by Chris Yates
The 2012 PWA Catalunya World Cup was an enormous success, with the stunning white sands of the Golf-de-Roses producing wind on every single day. By the end of the event, Bjorn Dunkerbeck had managed to win three out of the six eliminations completed, as the most decorated sailor in windsurfing history dominated the proceedings.
Epic slalom on the final day
This week though will stay in the mind of Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) for the rest of his life, as the Frenchman claimed his maiden victory in race five, to take second overall. The French look a dominant force in the slalom world at the moment and Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) completes the top three.
The first elimination saw a Starboard and Severne top two as Bjorn Dunkerbeck sailed faultlessly to take the opening race and in doing so, he firmly re-established his bid for the world title, having exited the event in Korea prematurely due to injury. Second place went to Australian Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne), who looked very dangerous in the light conditions, whilst Pieter Bijl (JP / NeilPryde) and Antoine Albeau completed the top four.
In the second race Antoine Albeau managed to hit back immediately to thwart Dunkerbeck’s perfect start, as the big Frenchman reveled in the stronger winds on day three to claim his first elimination victory of the year. Steve Allen made the best start of the fleet, but Albeau was a man on a mission and he came flying out of his first gybe to move into second place. From here on Albeau went from strength-to-strength, his greater board speed and fluid gybes eventually saw him overtake Allen to finish first. Bjorn Dunkerbeck managed to squeeze past Allen on the final gybe to move into second as the Australian was left to settle for third place. Julien Quentel continued his super consistent form to finish in fourth.
Antoine Albeau speaking after claiming his first elimination victory of the year: 'I’ve definitely been waiting for my first victory so it’s nice to do that today. The wind was really good at the end, so in the winners’ final I was on my 7.8 and medium board. At the start I had a big fight with Bjorn because we were all late apart from Steve Allen, who had a killer start. I was behind both of them into the first turn but I managed to perform a really good gybe at the first mark to move Bjorn, which was great. By the end I was feeling very confident, I felt I had good speed and that I was gybing well. I am delighted with how today went.'
On day four Costa Brava truly was a slalom sailor’s paradise as the wind kicked in early to allow six hours of high-octane racing. The winners’ final of race three started under dramatic circumstances as Antoine Albeau jumped the gun, to present Dunkerbeck with the perfect opportunity to reassert himself at the top of the rankings. The terminator made no mistakes as he opened up a clear lead by the end of the race to claim the first bullet of the day ahead of Julien Quentel. Meanwhile, Ludovic Jossin out maneuvered Bora Kozanoglu to move into third place.
Quentel leads at the mark - PWA Catalunya World Cup 2012
Race four saw the wind build with gusts of up to twenty-five knots being recorded. As the wind increased Dunkerbeck began look like he was in a league of his own as he combined his phenomenal top speed with beautiful planing gybes to dominate against the rest of the fleet. By the first mark Dunkerbeck had opened up a ten-meter lead and from here on no one could get close to him.
The main significance of elimination four was the fact the Dunkerbeck became the first man this season to win back-to-back victories. Antoine Albeau and Ben Van Der Steen both fell during the winners’ final to leave the door open for Pierre Mortefon, Julien Quentel and Cyril Moussilmani to all make the top four.
First mark action - PWA Catalunya World Cup 2012
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 my equipment. 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.'
Bjorn at the first mark - PWA Catalunya World Cup 2012
Race five was concluded on day five of the event, but this time we had a new name at the top, as Julien Quentel claimed his first ever elimination victory to mark a memorable day. Dunkerbeck was out in the lead, however, Quentel was in hot pursuit of the terminator and he had soon moved into the lead. The Frenchmen showed no signs of nerves as he came down the home straight, and he was rewarded with his maiden victory. Behind him though there was utter carnage at the final mark, Dunkerbeck stalled after being overtaken by Cyril Moussilmani. Things only got worse here for Dunkerbeck as his team mate Steve Allen collided with him, meaning they finished in sixth and seventh respectively. Antoine Albeau went on to claim second, whilst third and fourth was occupied by Jimmy Diaz and Cyril Moussilmani.
Julien Quentel speaking after winning his first ever elimination: 'I’m feeling super happy. I made a good start in the final and thankfully I managed to overtake Bjorn. Once I was in the lead I was feeling confidant rather nervous and as I crossed the line I just felt delighted.'
Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails), who won the last event in Korea, won the final race of the 2012 PWA Catalunya Costa Brava World Cup. The winners’ final was missing a key name though, Antoine Albeau, after the Frenchman dropped his third gybe in the semi-finals to go from first to last. Buzianis sailed superbly in heat sixteen as he led from start to finish. The American flew across the line in first place and no one was able to catch him. Dunkerbeck was on Buzianis’ tail as they approached the third mark but the American exited his gybe with substantially more speed than Dunkerbeck to open up a clear lead. Dunkerbeck ultimately finished the race in second place with Britain’s Ross Williams and Australia’s Steve Allen completing the top four.
Micah Buzianis and Bjorn battle it out - PWA Catalunya World Cup 2012
Steve Allen on form - PWA Catalunya World Cup 2012
The sixth race witnessed a total of eleven false starts, which resulted in heats two and eleven not needing to be sailed, due to the fact four sailors crossed the line early to create a free pass to the next round for the remaining sailors. Elsewhere Brit James Dinsmore did well to qualify for his second quarter final of the event, having finished fourth in heat five. Despite everyone’s best efforts the losers’ final was unable to be completed as the wind began to deteriorate. The decision to end the event came shortly after six o’clock to conclude an epic event, which has seen warp speed-racing every day.
After the conclusion of the action we spoke with our event winner Bjorn Dunkerbeck: 'We’ve sailed every day, which is not normal for Costa Brava. We’ve had fully powered up 7.8 weather that I really enjoyed, but it was really good to have a variety of conditions this week. Having injured my foot in Korea this was the perfect comeback for me. I managed to win the first race of the week and obviously the two bullets on day four really helped to maintain my confidence. I feel really fast in all conditions and I’m super happy with my Starboard and Severne equipment. This week has been great.'
Bjorn on top in Costa Brava - PWA Catalunya World Cup 2012
The 2012 PWA Catalunya Costa Brava World Cup Overall Standings: Men’s Slalom
1st Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz)
2nd Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde)
3rd Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
4th Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne)
5th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne / Mystic)
The next stop on the PWA Slalom World Tour will see the slalom fleet heading to howling Fuerteventura from the 20th to the 30th of July.
PWA World Tour website