On day four of the 2012 PWA Catalunya World Cup, Costa Brava came to life early as the wind arrived before twelve o’clock and an action packed day ensued. After six high-octane hours on the water, two and a half eliminations were completed. As the racing came to a close it was Bjorn Dunkerbeck who stole the show, as he became the first man this season to win back-to-back eliminations after a brilliant display of sailing.
Albeau cranks a gybe
The first winners’ final of the day started under dramatic circumstances as yesterday’s race two winner, Antoine Albeau, went over the line early. This left to door wide open for Dunkerbeck to hit straight back at the Frenchmen, and the terminator took full advantage of the opportunity presented before him to claim the first bullet of the day. Dunkerbeck led the pack into the first gybe and from here he just went from strength-to-strength as he flew down the course, without putting a foot wrong, to open up a substantial lead over his closer challenger, Julien Quentel. The Frenchmen managed to overtake Bora Kozanoglu and he held on for the remainder of the heat to claim second place. Eventually Kozanoglu had to settle for fourth after Ludovic Jossin also managed to squeeze past the Turk.
For the Loser’s Final, in heat fifteen Wojtek Brzozowski just edged the start, but by the first mark Ross Williams had stormed into the lead. Just like Dunkerbeck in the winners’ final, the Brit went onto extend his lead throughout the heat to finish in first place. As the rest of the fleet approached the third gybe mark, Pascal Toselli occupied second place, but Micah Buzianis out maneuvered Brzozowski to move into third, with the Pole completing the top four.
In the opening round of elimination three, the majority of the big guys survived unscathed, however in heat one Patrick Diethelm and Peter Volwater were the early casualties. Meanwhile in heat eight France’s Tristan Algret did well to qualify from a tough heat.
The quarters saw a few of the big names fall. Finian Maynard, who has been battling a leg injury for the duration of the event, qualified for the quarters but this is as far as he would be going on this occasion. Other notable names missing from the semi-finals would be Jimmy Diaz, who sailed so well yesterday just missed out in fifth after a battle with Ross Williams in heat ten. Ben Van Der Steen also failed to not make the semis. The other notable sailor to be missing from the next round would be Antoine Questel.
Bjorn Dunkerbeck made a great start to the second winners’ final of the day and multiple world champion continued to look phenomenally quick, so much so that by the first gybe he had already opened up a ten meter gap over Ben Van Der Steen, Pierre Mortefon and Matteo Iachino, who were his closest challengers, whilst Albeau was in fifth. However disaster soon struck for the Frenchmen as he fell upon entry of the second gybe to find himself bringing up the rear of the fleet. Albeau wasn’t the only one to go down though as Van Der Steen suffered a similar fate at the final gybe. This saw the Dutchman drop from second all the way to the back as Mortefon, Quentel and Cyril Moussilmani all bypassed him to complete the top four.
The glory was left for Dunkerbeck though, as he became the first man this season to win two eliminations in a row. The most decorated sailor in windsurfing’s history looked almost untouchable as he combined his ridiculous top speed with flawless gybes to dominate again.
There were further upsets in the early rounds of race four. The first shock came as Questel failed to qualify for the next round after being hugely overpowered in heat six. The next big name sailor to fall was Ross Williams, who dropped his gybe to drop out of the qualifying positions. Unfortunately for the Brit he wasn’t quite able to recover as he narrowly missed out in fifth. As the competition headed into the quarterfinals, the major story was that Finian Maynard was taken out by Pieter Bijl in the gybe. This ultimately proved to be the beginning of the end, as neither of the two sailors were able to recover. Waiting in the wings were Mortefon, Brzozowski, Cyril Moussilmani and Iachino, all of whom went onto qualify for the semis. Julien Quentel sailed brilliantly to make yet another winners’ final as the Frenchmen continued his rich rein of form.
With two eliminations already completed today the competitors took a forty-minute break before the fifth race began. Once the action was underway there was plenty of drama once again. In the second heat Questel collided with Kozanoglu. At that time Kozanoglu was qualifying for the second round, however, unfortunately for the Turk he was unable to recover from this unlucky mishap as both of them missed out. The next substantial sailor to fail to qualify was Ross Williams, who is usually so on point with his starts, crossed the line early to be disqualified from heat three.
The quarterfinals weren’t without their upsets either as Alberto Menegatti and Micah Buzianis both failed to escape from heat nine. Advancing would be the hugely impressive Quentel along with Andrea Cucchi, Bijl and Taty Frans grabbed the crucial fourth spot. In the last quarter final of the day, heat 10, Antoine Albeau easily booked his place in the semi-finals with an assured display, finishing clear of the rest of the fleet. Joining him in second place is Pierre Mortefon, whilst Jimmy Diaz and Steve Allen had a tussle for third and fourth. Eventually Diaz came out on top to claim third.
Bjorn Dunkerbeck speaking after becoming the first man this season to win back-to-back eliminations this season, to cap a simply brilliant day:
'It was the perfect day today, I made no mistakes. I started the day on the big kit, 9.6 then 8.6 before finishing on my 7.8. I felt really fast and good on all three sizes, which is a testament to the kit. I have to say that that today was probably the best day of racing we have had this year. This gives me a lot of confidence and satisfaction for the future events. Today was great.'
Tomorrow’s forecast is very similar to today’s, which means at the very minimum we should see the completion of race five, but in reality we should have another day of perfect slalom. Tomorrow’s skippers’ meeting has been called for 10:30 am, with the first possible start at 11am. Be sure to tune into the live ticker to follow another enthralling day of competition.
Men’s Slalom Standings After Elimination 4:
1st Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz)
2nd Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde)
3rd Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
4th Steve Allen (Starboard / NeilPryde)
5th Ludovic Jossin (Patrik / Loft Sails
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