Bureau Vallée Dream Cup
After a quiet opening couple of days to the 2019 Bureau Vallée Dream Cup - the wind swung into action on day three to allow the opening couple of eliminations of the week to be completed in both the men’s and women’s fleets. Over the next 5 hours of racing, there were many talking points with plenty of drama and upsets out on the racecourse…
After claiming a convincing victory in the opening race of the week it looked as though reigning world champion and current world tour leader - Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) - may threaten to put the title race to bed on the first day of racing, whilst also quashing any injury concerns. However, that all changed in the second elimination as the 3-time world champion crashed out in the semifinal - where the top 4 sailors from 6 advance. That surprise early exit sees Cousin Questel drop to 5th in the event rankings, while also raising question marks about her foot injury - especially given the water is likely to be even choppier over the coming days which will make gybing even trickier.
Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone), who is the only woman who can stop Cousin Questel, enjoyed a near perfect day. The 27-year-old chased home Cousin Questel in the opener before securing a bullet in the next to take full advantage of Cousin Questel’s mistakes. Mortefon holds a 3.3 point lead at the close of play and is currently doing everything in her power to deny Cousin Questel.
Maëlle Guilbaud (Patrik / Loftsails) and Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins) are currently Mortefon’s closest challengers with both women on 6 points. Crucially though, for Guilbaud at least, she is ahead on countback after securing second place in Elimination II, which keeps her ahead in the race for the final place on the podium.
Meanwhile, local girl - Lilou Granier (Starboard / Phantom Sails) - completes the current top 5 in 4th place after recording a 6th and a 4th place in today’s races.
Pierre Mortefon’s title bid couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start as he was disqualified from the opening elimination for a dangerous sailing incident with Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails), which saw Mortefon t-bone Williams at the final mark of the first semifinal - with Mortefon desperately trying to avoid being eliminated in 5th place. However, that moment of desperation led to his disqualification - with Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) and Williams - having words with the Frenchman, who quickly apologised to the Brit.
After a disastrous start, Mortefon dug deep in the second elimination to claim a crucial bullet, which could yet prove decisive in deciding this year’s title race. That victory leaves Mortefon ranked 25th at the end of the opening day of racing, and while there aren’t any more room errors - he has at least taken a big step towards putting himself back in the picture. Mortefon punched the air several times after crossing-the-line, clearly knowing the potential importance of that bullet.
Luckily, for Mortefon, his main rival - Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne) - couldn’t inflict maximum damage upon him with the Italian also missing out on the opening winners’ final as both title contenders faltered early on. However, Iachino steadied the ship in Elimination II with a solid third place, which leaves him 4th in the overalls - just 4 points off the top - and more importantly in control of the title race at this stage.
The only other man who can win the world title - Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) - ends the day ranked second after qualifying for both Winners’ Finals - finishing 5th in each. The reigning world champion will have taken great interest in the early couple of wobbles by his rivals and will be waiting in the wings to strike if the opportunity arises.
Away from the title race, Maciek Rutkowski (FMX Racing / Challenger Sails), who earned his first podium on the world tour in Denmark in September, leads the event at the close of play. The Pole has gone from strength-to-strength so far this season and an excellent second and a 6th today gives him a great platform to build upon for the remainder of the event.
Before Fuerteventura - Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone) - was struck down by a bug / food poisoning and that had serious knock-on effects. In Fuerteventura he still managed to finish 7th, but in Denmark he produced nothing like the sort of performance we have come to expect from him in the last season or two - finishing in a lowly 22nd - so the flying Dutchman will be delighted to have bounced back here with a 3rd and an 8th place today - 3rd for the event. Vonk is just 3 points off the top after the opening two races and looks to be back to full fitness.
Ross Williams would’ve qualified for both Winners’ Finals but for that incident with Mortefon, but the Brit still finds himself ranked 5th after finishing second in the Losers’ Final of Elimination 1 and 4th in Elimination 2.
Just behind Williams is his teammate - Ethan Westera (Tabou / GA Sails) - who after finishing 13th in the opener went on to record his best result in an elimination - 6th. The Aruban is still in with a chance of breaking into the overall top 10 and if he can sustain the level of performance he showed today, he may well do just that.
The top 10 at this stage is completed by Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins), Julien Quentel (Patrik / GUNSAILS), Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde), who earned his second bullet on the tour in the opener, before being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the next to drop from first to 9th and Antoine Questel (I-99 / S2Maui).
The forecast for tomorrow looks even better than today, so there should be plenty more racing to come on Thursday. The skippers' meeting has been called for 9am (GMT+11) with the racing commencing from 10am onwards.
To stay up to date with all the latest developments from New Caledonia — including the live stream, elimination ladders, entry list, images and live ticker simply click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Current Ranking 2019 Bureau Vallée Dream Cup - Women’s Slalom
1st Marion Mortefon (FRA | Fanatic / Duotone)
2nd Maëlle Guilbaud (FRA | Patrik / Loftsails)
3rd Lena Erdil (TUR | Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins)
4th Lilou Granier (NC | Starboard / Phantom Sails)
5th Delphine Cousin Questel (FRA | Starboard / S2Maui)
Current Ranking 2019 Bureau Vallée Dream Cup - Men’s Slalom
1st Maciek Rutkowski (POL | FMX Racing / Challenger Sails)
2nd Antoine Albeau (FRA | JP / NeilPryde)
3rd Jordy Vonk (NED | Fanatic / Duotone)
4th Matteo Iachino (ITA | Starboard / Severne)
5th Ross Williams (GBR | Tabou / GA Sails)
6th Ethan Westera (FRA | Tabou / GA Sails)
7th Tristan Algret (GPE | Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins)
8th Julien Quentel (SXM | Patrik / GUNSAILS)
9th Enrico Marotti (CRO | JP / NeilPryde)
10th Antoine Questel (FRA | I-99 / S2Maui)