Ulsan PWA World Cup 2011, held in Korea during 14th to 20th May, has drawn to a conclusion after seven days of awe inspiring action and vehement slalom encounters.
Climbing the ranks through five full eliminations, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear) negotiated a dramatic route to victory in the men’s fleet, stealing the event title from under the nose of Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) by just a fraction of a point. In the women’s fleet, Valerie Arrighetti commanded the racecourse to top the ranks after four eliminations, with an unequivocal two-point lead over her next closest adversary, Lise Vidal (Exocet / North).
In the first men’s elimination, false starts from Finian Maynard (RRD), Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic) and Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) left the door wide open for Dunkerbeck to seize control of the depleted winners’ final, and lay claim to the event’s first race elimination, ahead of Albeau in second and Arnon Dagan (Tabou / Gaastra) in third.
The second race elimination’s major drama came when Dunkerbeck failed to advance from the semi finals after hitting a rope on approach to the start line. A failed sprint to the finish line with Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North) had the whole beach mesmerized, but ultimately left Dunkerbeck to settle for ninth in the elimination.
In the winner’s final, Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) proved to be the man to beat. Outstanding racing from him rewarded his efforts with elimination victory. Cyril Moussilmani chased in second, and Antoine Questel (Loft) took the remaining podium position in third.
Elimination three proved to be a turbulent affair. The race final saw both Dunkerbeck and Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde) false start, forcing the heat to be rerun. The subsequent rerun then fell victim to the gusty local wind, and had to be cancelled and then re sailed a third time before a result was secured. When crunch time came, Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun Sails / Dakine) came hot out the blocks, only to fall at the first gybe and have his chances of catching the fleet crushed as a wind hole followed him down the second reach.
At the front of the pack, Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic) pieced together a master class in slalom racing as he led, unphased by Albeau’s presence on his tail, and was ultimately rewarded with the elimination win. Albeau was never far behind in second, and Cyril Moussilmani added another solid result to his collection in third.
Elimination four’s deciding heat would light up the East Sea as the two sentinels of slalom racing; Albeau and Dunkerbeck went head to head in a bid for event supremacy.
Exchanging positions down the first leg, Dunkerbeck gained a narrow margin through the subsequent reaches, leaving a classic finish line drag race to determine who’d claim the elimination. The jaw-dropping spectacle eventually saw Dunkerbeck pip Albeau to the finish line, but not without Dunkerbeck having to dig deep. Trailing them, Peter Volwater (Fanatic / MauiSails) posted far and away his best result of the event so far in third.
The fifth and final men’s elimination of the event witnessed Albeau suffer his first major blunder when he failed to qualify for the winner’s final, leaving Dunkerbeck to methodically advanced through his semi final into the final, and within touching distance of the event lead.
Cue the final, and Angulo dialed into the stellar form he’d been enjoying throughout event. Leading from the outset, he set the pace at the front of the fleet, while Buzianis fended off Dunkerbeck in a battle for second. Moving into the final reach, Angulo had done enough not to worry too much about the ferocious antics behind him, as Buzianis and Dunkerbeck continued to spar for second, and effectively the event lead for Dunkerbeck.
Despite Buzianis sailing the heat of his event, he couldn’t hold off the might of Dunkerbeck, and conceded second position to windsurfing’s most highly decorated man, and in turn what would ultimately be the overall event title.
Behind them, Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Gaastra) made a massive leap up the ranks by coming home in fourth in his first foray into winners’ finals whilst Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) continued his impressively consistent event run in fifth.
Logging one less elimination than the men, the women’s event would be judged on four races. Commanding from the outset, Arrighetti produced a faultless performance in the first elimination, finishing first in the qualifying round, and then repeating the feat in the subsequent final, to grant her the early event lead. In her wake, she left Aruba’s Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic) in second and France’s Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde) in third.
Entering the second elimination, France’s Lise Vidal (Exocet / North) stepped up her game to steal the winner’s final from under the nose of Offringa in second. That left Arrighetti to take third in the heat; another consistent result for her stash.
In the women’s third elimination, Vidal showed her pervious race-winning performance was far from a flash in the pan, when she breezed through the round to win the race in truly domineering fashion. Behind her, the super consistent Arrighetti consolidated her event lead with yet another podium finish in second, and Offringa added to a similarly consistent run of results in third.
The fourth and final women’s elimination saw stablemates Arrighetti and Offringa duel in a super close race final as they screamed down the final reach neck and neck, leaving the finish line crew the tough job of calling a winner. Following close scrutiny, Arrighetti was rewarded with the win, and what would become the event title, handing Offringa a well fought second position, with France’s Morane Demont (Starboard / Severne) clinching third.
We caught up with the newly crowned event winners to get their thoughts on taking their respective event titles.
Bjorn Dunkerbeck: 'The event started off really well, the wind was good, and I managed to win the first elimination, then in the second race I had a little accident before the semi finals; I hit a rope just before the start, and I missed the start. Then I caught up pretty well on the first leg, but got stuck in a hole after the first gybe, so only finished in fifth. In the third one I went over early in the finals, so that wasn’t great! In the fourth race I won with no problems, and the fifth I was second, so with the one discard I just managed to get ahead of Antoine. It’s good to win here, the fist year I came I was third, last year I was second, and this year I’m first. I’ve won three world cups in a row now, Sylt last year, Vietnam, and now Korea. It’s looking good for 2011.'
Valerie Arrighetti: 'The conditions have been really difficult here, it’s so gusty. It’s a nice place to be, but the thermal wind hasn’t really blown consistently. I’ve won, but it’s been very difficult for me because of my shoulder injury. At the moment I don’t have enough muscle, and I can’t get enough power when I’m racing. I’m really happy to win here, it really helps me mentally. This year I’ve changed sail sponsor to Gaastra, but because of my injury I’ve had no time to test and tune the new sails, so it’s been really hard to come here and have to tune them during a competition. With everything that’s gone on with me over the past winter, this win really means a lot to me.' Final Event Standings: Men
First: Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / DunkerbeckEyewear)
Second: Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde)
Third: Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun Sails / Dakine)
Fourth: Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North)
Fifth: Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic) Final Event Standings: Women
First: Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic)
Second: Lise Vidal (Exocet / North)
Third: Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic)
Fourth: Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North)
Fifth: Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde)
The world tour now heads back to Europe for the slalom fleets’ third bout, at the 2011 Catalunya Costa Brava World Cup, from the 31st May to 5th June. PWA website