On the fifth and penultimate day of the PWA Pegasus Airlines World Cup, a further two eliminations were completed as the Meltemi winds continue to be as reliable as clockwork. Despite, somewhat gusty winds in the morning, the winds eventually kicked in by the early afternoon. Today saw Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) and Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins / Chris Benz) dominate the men and women’s divisions as they claimed two victories out of two, and with it they both cemented their places at the top of the current event rankings.
Yet again Antoine Albeau timed he start to perfection along with Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic / Different). However by the first mark Albeau had ensured that he was first to opening buoy with another show of exceptional speed. His arch-rival Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz) arrived in second place with Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) and Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) all in contention at this point.
However, Albeau capitalized on the clean wind presented before him and by the third buoy he cranked round his gybe with a clear lead. Dunkerbeck still occupied second, but the real point to note was the fact that Van Der Steen had managed to come storming back from seventh place to third with a display of blistering speed and silky smooth gybes. Around the final mark, Albeau showed no signs of crumbling under the pressure and he claimed his fifth victory of the event after another magnificent display. In the meantime, Dunkerbeck had to settle for second, whilst Ross Williams finished in fourth after edging out Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra), after the Frenchman out maneuvered Frans.
In the first semi-final of the day Ross Williams made a sneaky and extremely smart move. The Brit sailed downwind of the racecourse start line buoy, so as to avoid being called over early with Benoit Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer). This is a move that paid dividends as Williams won the re-sail of heat thirteen, before finishing fourth overall.
The second winners’ final of the day began with a dramatic start as the local man Bora Kozanoglu (Starboard / Severne) was disqualified for a false start. Despite a protest from the Turk, his appeal was rejected and the top seven engaged in the restart. When heat sixteen was underway again it was Ross Williams that made the best start of the fleet. However, as the case has been so often this week, the dominant force of Antoine Albeau literally flew to the front of the fleet by the first gybe. Still challenging the Frenchman were Van Der Steen, Andrea Cucchi (Patrik / Point-7), and Williams.
As the top seven men approached the third mark it was still, the now elusive Albeau, who led the way and he was simply un-catchable as he claimed his fourth race in a row as he continues his hot streak of form. Italian, Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Gaastra), produced a sterling performance as he claimed second place ahead of the flying Dutchman, Van Der Steen, and Bjorn Dunkerbeck in fourth.
In the earlier rounds of the eight races, heat seven witnessed a nail biting finish for the final qualifying position. As Andrea Rosati (RRD / Gaastra) and Tomas Malina (Fanatic / Simmer) battled in out hell right up until the line. Eventually a photo finish separated the pair and it was Rosati who edged his way into the top four. The eighth round also witnessed eight over-earlies as the event witnessed the most re-starts of the week.
The reigning world champion, Sarah-Quita Offringa, found her best form today as she led the first winners’ final of the day from start to finish, which means the lady from Aruba claimed back-to-back victories. Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne) had to settle for second, which is where she rounded the first mark, but the Swiss gem was unable to reduce to deficit in front of her. Third place went to a flying Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde) and a battling Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic), who finished ahead of the local girl Cagla Kubat (Starboard / Loft).
In the meantime Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde) was in superb form in the losers’ final as she combined her perfect gybes with a brilliant top speed to dominate the fleet. Aubet sailed superbly to keep her Turkish rival, Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft / AL360) at bay as she finished in second place ahead of Greta Benvenuti (Patrik / Point-7) and Marianne Kaplas (Starboard / Severne).
Once Sarah-Quita Offringa had found her form, there was simply no stopping her. The lady from Aruba beat everyone to the first mark despite a close start. After several poor gybes in the earlier rounds, by her standards, Offringa found her world championship form as she made her early advantage count by claiming her second bullet of the day, and fourth overall in the event week. Lena Erdil sailed an exceptional heat to claim second followed by Cousin and the battling Arrighetti, who was battling to maintain her pole position, but it wasn’t to be.
Meanwhile, the Turkish contingent of Deniz Sekercioglu and Fulya Unlu (Starboard / Severne) missed out on the tip sixteen, after a fine performance thus far. The major upset of the eighth round was the fact that Karin Jaggi, missed out on a place in the winners’ final.
Tomorrow offers much the same as today, so with that in mind the skippers’ meeting has been called for 11am, with the action commencing from meeting for 11:30, if conditions allow.
by Chris Yates
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7:32 PM Fri 31 Aug 2012GMT
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