Tiberias PWA World Cup
After a long and arduous 18 months, there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel as racing of the highest quality finally makes its much-anticipated return to our screens. From the 21st-25th June, the world’s most talented racers will battle it out in a totally new location for the PWA, which boasts a rich history for both Christianity and Judaism, as the best men and women travel to Israel for the 2021 Tiberias PWA World Cup.
Tiberias is situated on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee - approximately a two-hour drive north from the capital of Jerusalem. Founded in 20 CE by Herod Antipas and named in honour of the Roman Emperor of the same name, Tiberias has great significance in both Judaism and Christianity and is steeped in history. In June of this year however, it will play host to a modern generation attempting to walk on water, albeit with the help of the latest in hi-tech equipment! Throughout the summer months, regular thermal winds generate superb flat water conditions with breezes of 18-30 knots not uncommon, which should create the perfect playground for plenty of high octane slalom and foiling.
Delphine Cousin Questel (FMX Racing / S2Maui) will start the season as the top seed having captured her 4th Slalom World title in 2019. However, the reigning world champion will face a stern test to achieve that feat with Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins), also a 4-time Slalom World Champion, returning to the fray. Between them, they have won every world title since 2013 (Cousin Questel 4x, Offringa 3x - Offringa’s other Slalom world title coming in 2011.
Statistically speaking then it would look like a two-horse race on paper, such has been their dominance. However, Offringa, will not be the only potential thorn in Cousin Questel’s side as if Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone) can pick up where she left off in 2019 then that would make the current vice-world champion a serious contender. The 28-year-old dominated in New Caledonia to claim her first victory on the world tour.
Other names who will be hoping to force their way into contention include Oda Brødholt (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins), who claimed her first Slalom podium in Marignane, France 2019. The British duo of Sarah Jackson (Fanatic / Duotone) and Alice Read (Fanatic / Duotone) will also be hoping to get involved, as will Blanca Alabau (Starboard / Severne), whilst Tuesday-Lou Judd (Phantom) will be making her first appearance on the world tour since September 2019 after breaking her foot in Denmark.
Notable absentees include 2019 world No.3, 4 and 5 - Maëlle Guilbaud (Patrik / Loftsails), Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360) and Lilou Granier (Starboard / Phantom).
A total of 17 women have signed up for the Foiling, which remains a separate discipline for the girls, as the popularity of foiling continues to gather pace.
Delphine Cousin Questel will start as the top seed in the foiling as well after the 29-year-old won both events in Japan and South Korea in 2019. However, after more than 18 months off it will be interesting to see who makes the best start.
Other likely candidates are former Olympic Champion - Marina Alabau (Starboard / Severne Sails / Starboard Foils) - who finished runner up to Cousin Questel in 2019, Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / LOKEFOIL), who completed the overall podium in 2019, Marina’s younger sister - Blanca Alabau (Starboard / Severne Sails / Starboard Foils) - and 19-year-old Helle Oppedal (Fanatic / Duotone), who finished 5th overall when just 17-years-old two years ago.
Elsewhere, Alice Reed (Fanatic / Duotone) could be a contender given that she just missed out on the title at last year’s Zoo Station Bol PWA World Cup (1 Star), whilst Sarah-Quita Offringa and Oda Brødholt will make their debuts in the Foil fleet, on the world tour, having not competed during the Asian leg of the tour last time around.
Meanwhile, the local talents of Naama Gazit, Maya Morris, Daniela Peleg, Shachar Reshef, Linoy, Geva, Mika Kafri & Tamar Steinberg will be hoping to make an impact at their home event.
The fight for the 2021 Men’s PWA Slalom World Championship is also expected to be fiercely contested - especially if the previous title race in 2019 is anything to go by. That one went right down to the wire, with the last elimination, of the final event deciding the fight between - Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins / LOKEFOIL) & Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Starboard Foil). On that occasion, Mortefon came out on top as the Frenchman finally got his hands on the sport's most coveted prize - having come so close, multiple times before. You can expect to see Iachino and Mortefon going rail-to-rail with each other again.
Of course, you can’t forget the other member of the ‘Big Top 3’, who needs absolutely no introduction - Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) - who has dominated the Slalom scene for the last two decades and remains one of the powerhouses of the racing world despite approaching 50-years-old. In surfing terms, he is the Kelly Slater of the sport. Can Albeau add to his 25 world titles? You wouldn’t bet against it, but let's see.
However, whilst the ‘Big Top 3’ have rightfully earned their reputation as the most formidable in the business, this year’s competition will be quite different from years gone by as for the first time ever Slalom and Foil will merge together to create an intriguing new format. Each sailor will be given the choice between whether they want to use fin or foil, which should make for fascinating viewing, whilst potentially throwing the title race wide open. For this reason 2019 PWA Foil World Champion - Nicolas Goyard (Phantom / Phantom Sails / Phantom Foils) - could be a major contender for the top place on the podium.
Meanwhile, there are a whole host of contenders waiting in the wings to take their shot at dismantling the ‘Big Top 3’ as the level on world tour continues to go through the roof. 2019 saw 5 men claim their first elimination victories on the Slalom tour - namely Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone), Bruno Martini (FMX Racing / Challenger Sails), Maciek Rutkowski (FMX Racing / Challenger Sails), Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde) and Ethan Westera (Tabou / GA Sails) and you can expect all of them to be flying out of the traps here as they look to pick up where they left off.
The draw has opened up slightly too with 3 of 2019’s overall Slalom top 10 not competing in Israel. Firstly World No.5 - Julien Quentel, who announced a shock retirement from racing last month, Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails) and Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins / Starboard Foil), who is expecting to become a father within the next few weeks.
Other notable names to watch out for include Foil vice-world champion - Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Phantom Sails / Phantom Foils), who only missed out on the 2019 world title on countback, whilst as previous winners’ of Foil events, both Mateus Isaac (Starboard / Severne Sails / Starboard Foils) and Amado Vrieswijk (Future Fly / Severne Sails / Starboard Foils) could play major roles, whilst Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / Severne / Starboard Foil) should also be in the mix.
The strength in depth on the tour right now is quite incredible, so there are also a bunch of other sailors, who could easily be vying for the top 10 and beyond; Austria’s Marco Lang (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins), the Frenchmen of Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails), multiple-time Youth Champions - Basile Jacquin (FMX Racing / Point-7) and Damien Arnoux (Goya Windsurfing / Loftsails). If Taty Frans (Future Fly / Point-7) can find some consistency he too could be challenging for the top 10.
As local chances go their main hope will likely rest on the shoulders of Arnon Dagan (Future Fly / NeilPryde), who is Israel’s highest profile sailor with a wealth of experience - Dagan also played an integral part in bringing the event to Tiberias.
With the change in format in the Men’s, it is going to be fascinating to see who chooses fin or foil depending on the conditions and how that will potentially affect the top of the leaderboard come the end of the week. Will the dominant top 3 continue to lay down the hammer? Or will we see somebody else heading the rankings at the end of the next 5 days? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
The never ending wait is finally almost over with the Tiberias PWA World Cup starting tomorrow, so make sure you stay tuned to www.pwaworldtour.com - here you’ll be able to follow the racing as it happens via the PWA live stream. Don’t miss any of action! Who’s your money on?
Schedule For Day 1 (All Times GMT+3)
- Registration: 10-11am
- Skippers’ Meeting: 13:00
- First Possible Start: 14:00
Recap Overall Ranking 2019 PWA World Tour - Women’s Slalom
1st Delphine Cousin Questel (FRA | FMX Racing / S2Maui)
2nd Marion Mortefon (FRA | Fanatic / Duotone)
3rd Maëlle Guilbaud (FRA | Patrik / Loftsails)
4th Lena Erdil (TUR | Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins)
5th Lilou Granier (NC | Starboard / Phantom Sails)
Recap Overall Ranking 2019 PWA World Tour - Women's Foil
1st Delphine Cousin Questel ( FRA - FMX Racing / S2Maui / Starboard Foil)
2nd Marina Alabau (ESP - Starboard / Severne Sails / Starboard Foil)
3rd Marion Mortefon (FRA - Fanatic / Duotone / LOKEFOIL)
4th Blanca Alabau (ESP - Starboard / Severne / Starboard Foil)
5th Helle Oppedal (NOR - Fanatic / Duotone)
Overall Ranking 2019 PWA World Tour - Men’s Slalom
1st Pierre Mortefon (FRA | Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins)
2nd Matteo Iachino (ITA | Starboard / Severne)
3rd Antoine Albeau (FRA | JP / NeilPryde)
4th Jordy Vonk (NED | Fanatic / Duotone)
5th Julien Quentel (SXM | Patrik / GUNSAILS)
6th Ross Williams (GBR | Tabou / GA Sails)
7th Maciek Rutkowski (POL | FMX Racing / Challenger Sails)
8th Tristan Algret (GPE | Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins)
9th Enrico Marotti (CRO | JP / NeilPryde)
10th Marco Lang (AUT | Fanatic / Duotone)
Overall Ranking 2019 PWA World Tour - Men's Foil
1st Nicolas Goyard (FRA | Phantom / Phantom Sails Phantom Foils)
2nd Alexandre Cousin (FRA | Patrik / Phantom Sails / Phantom Foils)
3rd Matteo Iachino (ITA | Starboard / Severne Sails / Starboard Foil)
4th Thomas Goyard (FRA | FMX Racing / Phantom Sails / Phantom Foils)
5th Sebastian Kördel (GER | Starboard / Severne Sails / Starboard Foil)
6th Pierre Mortefon (FRA | Fanatic / Duotone / LOKEFOIL)
7th Julien Bontemps (FRA | JP / NeilPryde)
8th Sebastian Kornum (DEN | JP / NeilPryde)
9th Amado Vrieswijk (NB | Future Fly / Severne Sails / Starboard Foil)
10th Mateus Isaac (BRA | Starboard / Severne Sails / Starboard Foils)
*Equipment updated to reflect current sponsors