Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam
Fuerteventura lived up to its name on the opening day of the 2023 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam as winds gusting in excess of 30 knots greeted competitors to provide a great afternoon of racing, which resulted in 4 eliminations for the women and two races for the men being completed as Slalom made a welcome return to Sotavento after a 4 year hiatus.
Things couldn’t have gone much better for Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) on the opening day of the 2023 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam as the Aruban began by completing a clinical hat-trick as she dominated the fleet armed with a fin. The former 5-time Slalom world champion looked as though she was going to make it a four timer as she stole the lead from Blanca Alabau (Starboard / Severne Sails) round the last buoy in Elimination 4, but the Spaniard dug deep to snatch the victory on the line after an exhilarating drag race down the final reach, which saw them going rail-to-rail. Offringa holds a perfect score of 2.1 points at the close of play - currently discarding a second place from Elimination 4.
Justine Lemeteyer (FMX Racing / S2Maui / LOKEFOIL) is currently Offringa’s closest challenger - trailing by 5.9 points after recording two second places, a fourth and a sixth in the opening four races. Lemeteyer pushed Offringa all the way in the opener with the lead exchanging hands several times, but she couldn’t quite hold off the Aruban. However, today represents a solid start to proceedings as she looks to bounce back from fifth place in Pozo after winning the opening event of the year.
Meanwhile, Jenna Gibson (Fanatic / Duotone) is just a point further back in third after the Brit finished second, third, fourth and an 8th - which she currently discards - after being taken down at the opening buoy.
Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone) is also on 9 points after the opening 4 races, but is in fourth place on countback. The reining world champion sailed extremely consistently today with three thirds and a fourth and will now look to kick on.
Current World Tour leader - Blanca Alabau - finds herself in fifth place at the end of the opening day after making a somewhat slow start to proceedings which saw her finish outside the top 3 in the first three eliminations, but she bounced back with a brilliant bullet in the last to at least end the day on a high.
The first day of racing in the Men’s fleet saw a topsy turvy day with a mixed bag of results for many of the top seeds. After the opening couple of eliminations - William Huppert (Phantom / Phantom Sails / Phantom Boards) - heads up the event rankings after qualifying for both Winners’ Finals where he recorded a solid fourth and fifth. This is the first time the Frenchman has led an event, so it will be interesting to see how he copes with that pressure heading into day two. The Frenchman is a highwind foil specialist, but missed Pozo.
Amado Vrieswijk (Future Fly / Severne Sails) is just two points off the top, but the Bonairean will be ruing his luck in the opening Winners’ Final when he exploded along the third reach when holding a comfortable lead, which eventually saw him finish 8th. Vrieswijk then finished third in the next elimination, but realistically he could’ve been leading the event.
Johan Soe (FMX Racing / Point-7) produced a somewhat miraculous come back in the opening elimination to pip - Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Patrik Sails / Patrik Foils) - to a place in the winners’ final after the Dane fell at the opening mark. Cousin thought he was safe in fourth and was cruising to the finish line only for Soe to come from nowhere. The 20-year-old took full advantage of that come back as he secured second place in the opening elimination, but then missed out on the next Winners’ Final after being eliminated in the semifinal. Soe currently occupies third place.
Aside from Huppert and Vrieswijk, Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins / Phantom Foils) is the only other sailor to have qualified for both Winners’ Finals today. The Frenchman sits on 12 points - like Soe - after finishing 6th in both races.
Reigning world champion and current World Tour leader - Maciek Rutkowski (FMX Racing / Challenger Sails) - made the perfect start to the event as he claimed the opening bullet of the week, but the Pole then lost his 100% Winners’ Final Qualifying Record (WFQR) in Elimination 2 after crashing at the second mark in the second semifinal when in the qualifying positions. Rutkowski was then involved in a massive crash in the b-final, so had to settle for a 16th, which sees him positioned in 5th place at the end of day one.
Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne Sails) is a point further back in 6th after the Italian opened the event with a solid third place, but the Italian was then taken down by Rutkowski in the b-final of the next which caused him to drop from second to fifth - which is the of 14th in the second elimination.
Things didn’t exactly go to plan for Nicolas Goyard (Phantom / Phantom Sails / Phantom Foils) in his first appearance of the season as the 2021 word champion suffered a huge catapult in the second semifinal of Elimination 1 - resulting in a broken mast - before he was disqualified from the second semifinal for a premature start. Goyard currently sits in 7th place after winning both b-finals, but will be hoping there is better to come in the next days.
The top 10 is currently completed by Alexandre Cousin - 7th - Michele Becker (Patrik / Patrik Sails / Patrik Foils) - 9th - after the German bounced back from a quarterfinal exit in the first race with an excellent second and Scotty Stallman (Tabou / GA Sails) - who recorded his best result to date on the World Tour - 11th in Elimination 2.
Like Becker, Bruno Martini (JP / NeilPryde) bounced back from a disappointing quarterfinal exit in the opener by securing his first bullet of the week. The Italian occupies 13th heading into day two.
Elsewhere, Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde), who won the last event in Gran Canaria, had a bit of a day to forget as two gybing errors cost him dearly. Firstly, a place in the opening Winners’ Final, before things went from bad to worse as he suffered a quarterfinal exit. The good news for Marotti is there is plenty of racing to come, but he’ll need to bounce back quickly to get himself back in contention here.
Daniele Benedetti (FMX Racing / Challenger Sails) also deserves a special mention today as the Italian qualified for his first Winners’ Final on the World Tour - eventually securing an excellent 4th place.
So, whilst the top seeds may have faltered slightly on the opening day here, there is still plenty of racing to come. Will we see one of the usual suspects surge back to the top of the rankings? Or will a new name continue to lead the way?
Judging by the forecast it looks like it’ll be another windy day tomorrow - although possibly marginally less than today with 19-21 knots predicted for the afternoon, but that does not take into account the local effect. The sailors will meet again at 10am (GMT+1) on Friday morning for the skippers’ meeting with the action commencing from 10:45am onwards.
Current Ranking 2023 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam
*After 4 Eliminations
1st Sarah-Quita Offringa (ARU | Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins)
2nd Justine Lemeteyer (FRA | FMX Racing / S2Maui / LOKEFOIL)
3rd Jenna Gibson (UK | Fanatic / Duotone)
4th Marion Mortefon (FRA | Fanatic / Duotone)
5th Blanca Alabau (ESP | Starboard / Severne Sails)
Current Ranking 2023 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam
*After 2 Eliminations
1st William Huppert (FRA | Phantom / Phantom Sails / Phantom Boards)
2nd Amado Vrieswijk (NB | Future Fly | Severne Sails)
3rd Johan Soe (DEN | FMX Racing / Point-7)
4th Pierre Mortefon (FRA | Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins / Phantom Foils)
5th Maciek Rutkowski (POL | FMX Racing / Challenger Sails)
6th Matteo Iachino (ITA | Starboard / Severne Sails)
7th Nicolas Goyard (FRA | Phantom / Phantom Sails / Phantom Boards)
8th Alexandre Cousin (FRA | Patrik / Patrik Sails / Patrik Foils)
9th Michele Becker (GER | Patrik / Patrik Sails / Patrik Foils)
10th Scotty Stallman (UK | Tabou / GA Sails)