The final day of the PWA Ulsan Korea World Cup saw yet more twists and turns in an event where no one has been able to dominate. Another-elimination was completed on Friday and the tricky Korean waters continued to claim new victims. As the event concluded, it was Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails) and Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic) who had stepped up to the plate to reign victorious at Jinha beach.
In Men’s Elimination Five, the first blood of the day (quite literally) went to Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear), who suffered a deep cut to his foot after crashing into his fin due to a plastic bag getting caught around it. We spoke with the most decorated windsurfer in history on his return from the hospital:
'I was going out to the start line to prepare for my heat, when I caught a plastic bag around my fin. I jumped a few times to try and clear it but it didn’t work. On the landing from one of the jumps, the nose of the board ploughed into the wave in front and my front foot went underneath the board and slammed into the fin. The next thing I knew, I was lying in the water with a deep cut in my foot. I knew there was no way I could continue. Luckily when I arrived at the hospital I was told there is no tendon damage. After 20 stitches, I should be back on the water in two weeks and fighting fight to resume in Costa Brava.'
Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) missed out on a place in the winner’s final as he finished fifth in the first semi-final. Qualifying from heat thirteen was; Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra), Ludovic Jossin (Patrik / Loft Sails), Sylvain Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer) and Benoit Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer). The second semi-final proved to be a pivotal heat for the entire event. The current event leader Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails), exited the first gybe in first place, and by the time he was at the second mark the Frenchman had opened up a 40m lead.
From this point on it looked as though he would cruise into the winner’s final, however Questel showed his inexperience as he headed off to the wrong mark, meaning neither he or Josh Angulo (Angulo / Point-7) would be lining up for heat sixteen. Questel will want to quickly erase this moment from his mind, but he must learn from his mistake, which ultimately cost him the event title.
Micah Buzianis on the other hand, couldn’t believe his luck as he jumped from sixth place into that all important fourth spot. Patrick Diethelm (Patrik / Loft Sails) went on to win the heat followed by Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) and Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins).
Antoine Albeau put in a great performance in the loser’s final, he led from start to finish as he secured ninth place in the fifth race. Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft Sails / Mystic) and Questel had a tight battle for second and third respectively. The Frenchman regained his composure, to limit the damage caused by his semi-final mishap, to finish second and cap an otherwise flawless performance in Korea. Van Der Steen couldn’t quite do enough to pass Questel, as the Dutchman placed in third.
Heat 16 required a general recall as Taty Frans false started. When the final was restarted it was Buzianis who crossed the line in first place, but Jossin was soon at the front of the pack. The Spaniard looked a little shaky as he turned past the last mark, but he held his nerve and stepped back on the power to claim victory. Buzianis was chasing him all the way, but with him only needing to finish in the top two, to the win the overall event, he was never going to push too hard and risk catapulting on a piece of debris. Buzianis took second place and with it he was crowned the King of Korea.
The American fully deserved his victory after a mightily impressive performance for the duration of the week. Ross Williams deserves a mention as he put in a remarkable display to come from seventh place to finish third. The Brit demonstrated outstanding straight-line speed and super smooth gybes in the choppy waters to eat his way through the pack. This topped off a great week for Williams as he cemented his place on the podium. Benoit Moussilmani secured fourth ahead of Patrick Diethelm.
It was not only in the men’s division that the current event leader would be missing from the winner’s final, as Déjà Vu struck when Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic) made the same mistake of sailing to the wrong buoy in her heat. The French woman had been leading but she finished in seventh place to miss out on heat four.
In the Loser’s Final, Arrighetti picked herself up from the disappointment of missing the winner’s final by winning heat three, despite not having the best start. Once she was at the top, there was no way she was letting her lead slip this time and she powered home to victory. Japan’s Ayako Suzuki (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic) enjoyed an excellent race to claim second place, whilst her fellow countryman Mio Anayama (Starboard / NeilPryde) finished third. Fourth went to Lise Vidal (Fanatic / North).
In the Winner’s Final, Karin Jaggi (Severne / Patrik) failed to punish her rival, Arrighetti’s, mistake as she finished in third place. This wasn’t good enough to knock Arrighetti off her throne and the French woman was let off the hook. Credit shouldn’t be taken away from either Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde) or Fujiko Onishi though, as Cousin led from the beginning to the end as she won the fifth elimination, whilst Onishi finished second. Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North) couldn’t quite hold off the challenge of Jaggi and she had to settle for fourth.
After the day’s action, we caught up with the winners of the 2012 PWA Ulsan World Cup Korea:
How are you feeling after winning the event?
'I’m super happy, it’s been a while since I’ve won or had a good event period. I’m excited on so many different levels. I’m really happy for my new sponsors, MauiSails, and really grateful to the whole team. I can’t wait to go back to Maui and celebrate with every one, they’ve all given me so much support and helped me through some tough times, so it means a lot that I can reward them for sticking by me.'
As you headed out for the final, were you aware of where you needed to finish to claim the victory and did that play on your mind?
'It was on my mind a little, obviously I didn’t want to push too hard at the start and go over early, that was the one thing I couldn’t afford to do. I knew I needed to be in the top three or somewhere around there at least. I try not to focus on the points too much, and just concentrate on sailing my race. I’m aiming to win every race I sail so it doesn’t really matter if I have to win it or not.'
You trained really hard over the winter, is there anything in particular that you think helped you to win his event?
'The biggest help has been Phil McGain. He’s the brand manager at MauiSails and they took a chance on me. Phil’s helped me out both on and off the water, he’s so motivated and his motivation has rubbed off on me.'
How were you feeling after your mistake in the semi-final and how did that compare to when you knew you had won?
'I thought I had ruined my chances of winning the event. I was sure that Karin Jaggi would go on to win as she is such a good competitor. I was just left to pray that she didn’t win. I watched the winner’s final and I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw that Karin was in third place. It hasn’t fully settled in yet that I have won, as I have a lot of things running through my head, but I’m obviously delighted because I knew I had to win here to improve my overall ranking. I really thought it wasn’t going to be my year in Korea, especially after the last race yesterday when I got seaweed around my fin on the last reach and it cost me first place. Luck was definitely shining on me today.'