by Chris Yates
PWA Awaza World Cup 2014 - The PWA enters new territory as the slalom sailors prepare to take centre stage in Turkmenistan.
Warm up session for Questel - 2014 PWA Awaza World Cup
From the first to the 6th July the PWA will be entering unchartered waters as the male and female slalom fleets head to Turkmenistan for the first time ever, for what promises to be a fantastic new event on the PWA Slalom World Tour. The beautiful newly built Yelken Yacht Club will play host to the fastest sailors in the world for six days of adrenaline fuelled slalom as the men’s title race begins to gather pace, whilst the early front runners in the women’s fleet will soon emerge.
The Yelken hotel - Awaza PWA World Cup 2014
Awaza is surrounded by the Caspian Sea, approximately 590km northwest of Turkmenistan’s Capital City - Ashgabat. Upon arrival the amazing Yelken Yacht Club instantly welcomes you into the surroundings, with the club itself perfectly located and equipped for many water sports, not just windsurfing. Turkmenistan is rapidly developing as a country in terms of economy, education and of course sport. The wind in Awaza is thermally driven and it is not uncommon to see winds of 25-30 knots, which should provide the perfect building blocks for a superb week of slalom. Whilst producing terrific slalom conditions, Awaza also has the potential to provide quality starboard tack wave riding too.
Antoine Albeau. - Awaza PWA World Cup 2014
As the reigning PWA Slalom World Champion and winner of the opening event of 2014 in Costa Brava - Antoine Albeau (RRD - NeilPryde) will be the man to beat in Turkmenistan. In Costa Brava, Albeau delivered a commanding display, which included two bullets, as well as qualifying for four out of five winners’ finals. The big Frenchman demonstrated perfectly timed starts with terrific board speed to make the perfect start to the season and he’ll be hoping to continue that form here in Turkmenistan.
Sunrise in Ashgabad. - Awaza PWA World Cup 2014
Albeau on his first impressions and the week ahead: 'Awaza is the first time on the PWA World Tour, so new event, super happy to discover a new place.
Travel was not too long as I had two flights to arrive in Ashgabat, three hours Paris, Istanbul and three hours Istanbul to Asgabat with Turkish Airlines and then people from the organisation were waiting for us to direct us on the next flight to Awaza, all bags arrived in good time. Then we arrived in a wonderful and luxury hotel just built, lots of people waiting for us and help us in anything they can.'
Julien Quentel. - Awaza PWA World Cup 2014
'I was already on the water with my training partner Cédric Bordes and Julien Quentel, wind was light but enough to sail all afternoon, climate is just perfect.'
'So yes I won the event in Costa Brava now come the event number two, so I will try to do my best and I feel confident in me and my gear, I think that we will be using again our big equipment, hope we will have a lot of days with wind and we can do lots of slalom racing.'
'I want to thanks Turkmenistan for the invitation to the event, this is the first international sporting event they have organised so this is a very important event they are making and I am sure we will do lots of slalom in the beautiful Yelken hotel and yacht club.'
Last time out the French dominated proceedings as Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard - Severne) and Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic - North) completed the prestigious podium alongside Albeau, while fellow countryman Cedric Bordes (Tabou - GA Sails) finished in seventh place. The French contingent will be a major threat over the week ahead and we expect them to be challenging for top honors come the end of the week.
Surfs up. - Awaza PWA World Cup 2014
Ben Van Der Steen (Tabou - GA Sails - Mystic) just missed out on the top three in Costa Brava, but showed he’s a contender for the title this year with victory in the final elimination in Spain. The flying Dutchman is one of the quickest sailors on the tour and has made a seamless transition onto his new boards. Expect to see Van Der Steen challenging for the podium.
Micah Buzianis (JP - MauiSails) made a solid start to the season as he claimed fifth place overall. The American times his starts to perfection and has all the guile and experience to challenge for the top.
After a terrible opening race in Costa Brava, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard - Severne - Chris Benz - Dunkerbeck Eyewear) managed to recover over the remainder of the event to keep himself in contention at this early stage of the season, as he finished in sixth place. As the most decorated sailor in windsurfing history Dunkerbeck is a constant threat, however he will be hoping for stronger, rather than lighter winds for the event.
As one of the rising stars on the PWA Slalom World Tour Matteo Iachino (Fanatic - North) continued to reinforce this image with another top ten finish in Spain - eighth. Expect to see another strong performance from the young Italian as he tries to remain on course to better last season’s tenth place overall.
Alberto Menegatti (Starboard - Point-7) won the opening elimination in Costa Brava, before a combination of mistakes and misfortune saw the reigning PWA Vice-World Champion drop to ninth overall. Expect to see Menegatti return with a vengeance as he looks to get his title challenge back on track here in Turkmenistan.
Josh Angulo. - Awaza PWA World Cup 2014
Completing the top ten in the opening event of the year was Josh Angulo (Angulo - Gun Sails), but as well as Angulo there’s a whole host of other sailors who are more than capable of breaking into the top ten and beyond. Expect to see the likes of Britain’s Ross Williams (Tabou - GA Sails, Australia’s Steve Allen (Starboard - Severne) and Bonaire’s Taty Frans (Starboard - MauiSails - Mystic - MFC) all there or there abouts. Of course Julien Quentel (RRD - NeilPryde) will be hoping to kick start his season too after a disappointing nineteenth in Spain.
Lena Erdil. - Awaza PWA World Cup 2014
Delphine Cousin (Starboard - Loft Sails) will be hoping to make a strong start to her PWA Slalom World Championship defence in Turkmenistan. The twenty-three year old won her maiden world title last year by showing superb consistency and speed to keep her rivals at bay.
As the 2012 PWA Slalom World Champion - Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou - GA Sails - Mystic) - will be one of Cousin’s biggest rivals over the coming season. Arrighetti will also be extremely eager to win back her world crown in what should be an exciting contest.
With Karin Jaggi (Patrik - Severne) and Cagla Kubat (Starboard - Loft Sails) absent from the first event of the year, this opens to the door to Lena Erdil (Patrik - Loft Sails - Mystic - AL360) to at least reclaim her place in the overall top three, as the Turk managed in 2012. Also in contention for the top three will be Ayako Suzuki (Starboard - GA Sails - Mystic) who finished fifth in 2014 as well as Dilara Uralp (JP - NeilPryde) and Marion Mortefon (Starboard - Severne).
Don’t miss any of what is set to be a pulsating event by tuning into PWA World Tour from tomorrow onwards.