Day six of the PWA Ulsan Korea World Cup was an intense day of racing, as competitors and race officials grinded out a marathon ten-hour day on the water, which saw the two and a half eliminations completed. By the end of racing this evening there was a new kid on top of the block, in the form of Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails).
The second semi-final, Heat 14, was the first heat to be completed today. Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) made the perfect start, but Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails) was in hot pursuit. The American had a better line to the first mark, and this proved crucial as he took the lead. Once Buzianis was in first place he never looked like relinquishing it. Following him was Mortefon, Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft Sails / Mystic) and Sylvain Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer). Pieter Bijl (JP / NeilPryde) was close behind in fifth and he turned on the gas to pip Moussilmani into fourth place as they completed the heat.
The pressure was on Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) in the loser’s final, as he knew he had to win if he wanted to remain in contention for the event title. The Frenchman held his nerve, as he led from start to finish, showing absolute resolve to keep his hopes alive.
It wasn’t plain sailing for the rest of the riders though, as Pascal Toselli (RRD / Point-7) was taken down by Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic), at the opening gybe, this cost them both dearly as they finished in seventh and eighth respectively. Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Gaastra) and Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North) had a close fought battle for fifth and sixth, but the Italian just edged Diaz out by the finish line. The top four was completed by Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) in second, Sylvain Moussilmani third and Josh Angulo (Angulo / Point-7) in fourth.
In the Winner’s Final, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne/ Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear) demonstrated his championship winning qualities once again as he recovered from a poor first elimination, by claiming the first bullet of the day. It was Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) who nailed the start and he led going into the first turn. However the Brit dropped his gybe, allowing Dunkerbeck to sneak through, with Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft Sails/ Mystic) and Buzianis also benefitting.
Pieter Bijl (JP / NeilPryde) was third for a time, but both Van Der Steen and Buzianis fought back to overtake him. Van Der Steen was absolutely flying as he attempted to hunt down Dunkerbeck and by the finish line it was a photo finish. The results confirmed that the terminator had just about held on, despite a monumental effort from the Dutchman, who claimed second with Buzianis in third followed by Bijl in fourth.
At the end of the second elimination Antoine Questel was the event leader, with Dunkerbeck leaping into second place followed by Albeau in third. Day six in Korea was shaping up to be a real classic, with everyone still in the hunt for those coveted podium positions heading into the third elimination.
In the first round of the third elimination, several sailors fell victim to both seaweed and stray ropes, which made for some brutal looking crashes. In heat three Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) was the first sailor to be unlucky. The boy from Bonaire crossed the line in first place, and he was still qualifying for the second round as he headed round the final mark, however at this point Frans hit something in the water, ending his chances of progressing. Dan Ellis (North) was involved in the same heat and the Brit suffered a similar fate with an even bigger crash.
This enabled Poland’s Maciek Rutkowski (Loft Sails / Patrik) to grab the remaining fourth spot. Also qualifying from heat three was; Julien Quentel, Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne / Mystic) and Pierre Mortefon. Other notable names missing from the next round were Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne), who narrowly missed out after finishing fifth, whilst the winner of the first elimination Bora Kozanoglu also failed to make the top four of his heat.
The quarter-finals would see further upsets as the twists and turns continued. The ever consistent Jimmy Diaz was the latest sailor to implode. Meaning for once he was missing from the semis. Finian Maynard (RRD / Avanti) wasn’t complaining as he finally got a break in his favor, Diaz’s misfortune gifted Maynard fourth. Ross Williams led from start to finish, as he continued to look sharp with on point starts and great speed.
Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Fanatic / North) and Micah Buzianis were the other sailors going through. The other big names missing from the semis would be Alberto Menegatti, who false started in heat 11. Josh Angulo (Angulo / Point-7) was also left disappointed as he performed a less than perfect gybe, which saw him drop off the plane and more importantly out of the top four, as Questel, Peter Volwater (Fanatic / Avanti), Patrik Diethelm (Patrik / Loft Sails) and Pieter Bijl all progressed from heat 11.
The first semi-final saw Gonzalo Costa Hoevel time his start perfectly, and the Argentinean looked in the same kind of form that resulted in him finishing second in Italy. He demonstrated great board speed and fluid gybes throughout the heat to book his place in the winner’s final.
Second place went to Quentel whilst Buzianis was third. Ben Van Der Steen showed once again today that he is one of the fastest guys on the tour, as he came from behind to blitz past Williams to steal the last spot in the winner’s final. Heat 14 saw Questel continue his fine form as he went on to win the heat. Albeau and Dunkerbeck were second and third respectively, whilst Bordes turned on the after burners to finish fourth ahead of Volwater.
Ross Williams delivered a stellar performance to finish win the loser’s final and finish ninth overall in the race three. Cyril Moussilmani also put in a solid display as he held off Volwater to claim second place. Patrik Diethelm was the rider to eventually claim fourth after a battle between himself, Toselli and Ludovic Jossin (Loft Sails). Finian Maynard may have crossed the line first but he had to settle for seventh.
Winner’s Final - Heat 16 was immediately recalled, as disaster struck again for Albeau as he went over the line early, as did Costa Hoevel. At this point all eyes turned to Dunkerbeck, as it looked like he had been presented with the perfect opportunity to take a stronghold at the top. However by the end of the race Dunkerbeck finished in sixth place.
The legend made a rare mistake as he dropped his gybe at the fourth mark, meaning he had no time to recover. Ben Van Der Steen didn’t make the best start, but he soon rose from the back of the pack to charge into the lead, from here the Dutchman looked in complete control as he claimed his first victory of the season, and he was visibly delighted as he crossed the line. Buzianis cemented his place in second followed by Bordes and Quentel in fourth.
Elimination Four - The main stories of the first round was that Peter Volwater, who had been so competitive up to now, failed to progress. He was involved in an extremely close battle with Andrea Rosati (RRD / Gaastra) and it was the Italian who prevailed. Jesper Orth (F2 / KA) also made an incredible recovery to still qualify for the next round after catapulting during heat 6. Orth didn’t give up though as he reeled in Sean O’Brien (Starboard / Point-7), and by the finish line he had done enough to overtake his Australian counterpart.
Bjorn Dunkerbeck endured a horrific quarter final as he hit a piece of wood at full speed, this sent him flying and the top seed missed out on a place in the semi-final’s. After a great start his day was starting to fall apart. Heat six was a super competitive heat and this resulted in several big names exiting the fourth race in the quarters. Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne / Mystic), Alberto Menegatti and Finian Maynard were all knocked out, as Costa Hoevel, Angulo, Buzianis and Frans all made it through.
In the first semi-final Josh Angulo got off to a fine start, however as other top riders had found out today, making the finish line was a bit of a lottery. Unfortunately for Angulo, luck wasn’t on his side and he couldn’t make up the ground he had lost. Cedric Bordes took full advantage as he passed into first place, and no-one could catch him. Costa Hoevel was his closest rival as he secured second.
Arnon Dagan (Tabou / Gaastra) began to discover his form and he was rewarded with third, whilst Buzianis ensured he would be in his third consecutive winner’s final by claiming the last spot. The winner of the third elimination, Van Der Steen, narrowly missed on the top four as the upsets continued to occur. The top going through to heat 16 were; Quentel, Questel, Williams and Albeau.
Taty Frans had been looking fast all day without making a significant impact. In the loser’s final this all changed as the freestyler turned slalom sailor, dominated the field to claim a clear victory in heat 15. Frans didn’t make the best start, but he took the inside line at the first gybe and leapfrogged past Angulo and Van Der Steen. By the final reach, Spain’s Ludovic Jossin had climbed into second place followed by Sylvain Moussilmani. Despite great starts for Angulo and Van Der Steen, they ended up finishing fourth and eighth respectively. Van Der Steen in particular got caught out in a wind hole, which cost him greatly.
Heat 16 provided a moment of glory for Antoine Questel. The young Frenchman had been sailing terrifically all day and he was rewarded with his first ever victory in a winner’s final. His confidence had grown throughout the day and on the final reach he was celebrating 50 yards before the finish, such was his lead. Ross Williams fought his way past Quentel into second and this is where the Brit finished. Quentel had been first over the line but ended up finishing fourth, with Antoine Albeau also overtaking him to secure third.
Quotes From Antoine Questel:
Do you feel under pressure being in the lead?
AQ : Yesterday after being ranked third with a lot of mistakes. I thought today would be the day that I released the pressure. I had great starts throughout. Going into the final day I feel pretty confident and the pressure isn’t on me. My worst result is fifth from here, this means if I am in the final then I can got full power on the starts but I will remain focused till the end now, tomorrow offers lighter winds and I feel more confident in these conditions.
How does it feel to win your first winner’s final?
AQ : Since last season I have been in a couple of winner’s finals. I have been close before so I was sure I could win one. Today I achieved my goal, hopefully it will not be the last one. I didn’t really realize that this was my first victory.
Do you feel under pressure when you are up against Antoine Albeau and Bjorn Dunkerbeck?
AQ : No I am confident in my abilities.
Why have you been so fast in Korea?
AQ : That is a secret that I cannot reveal.
In the women’s second elimination there were two upsets with Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North) and Lena Erdil (Patrik / The Loft / AL360) both missing the winner’s final. The top two seeds; Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne) and Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic) both made the winner’s final.
In the Winner’s Final, Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde) made the best start but Jaggi soon showed her class with superior speed to everyone. Jaggi soon found herself in the lead, and with all of her experience she was never going to let anyone take it away from her. Arrighetti, who is Jaggi’s biggest rival, managed to pass Cousin to move into second position and this is where they both remained, in second and third respectively. Fourth was another French woman, Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde) as the French dominate the top four.
The third elimination again saw Arutkin miss out on the winner’s final, but Lena Erdil managed to recover from her poor start in the previous elimination to book her place in the winner’s final. The other sailor of note to miss out was Greta Benvenuti (Patrik / Point-7 / AL360).
Winner’s Final - Lena Erdil made a great start to the final as she timed her start to perfection. However after a great start, Erdil finished in a disappointing sixth place. Jaggi once again demonstrated her greater straight-line speed as she came from third place to push Arrighetti all the way to the finish line. On this occasion the gap proved too big for the Swiss lady to close, as Arrighetti hit straight back to claim her second bullet of the contest. Following them in third was Cousin and Japan’s Fujiko Onishi completed the top four.
As the women returned to the water after a two hour break, you could feel the tension on the beach as the battle between Jaggi and Arrighetti heated up. The result of this winner’s final had the potential to be a pivotal moment in the event.
The first blood went to Arrighetti in the Winner’s Final as she was the first sailor over the line. Karin Jaggi hadn’t let her get out of sight though and the Swiss gem held second place. Behind them were Arutkin and Cousin. As the race progressed Arrighetti opened up a big lead and it looked as though she was going to stroll to victory. However the multi-talented and experienced Jaggi had not given up catching her rival, and as they headed down the last leg Jaggi started to gain on the Frenchwoman.
Jaggi completed an unbelievable comeback to claim first position, Arrighetti, meanwhile, was devastated and left cursing her luck as she got sea grass caught around her fin. This cost her the chance to take a commanding lead at the top, and now there’s all to play for with Arrighetti and Jaggi being right behind each other. Alice Arutkin finished in an excellent third with Cousin in fourth.
At the end of an epic day, packed with high-octane racing, the final day of Korea is set up to be a nail-biting showdown. In the men’s division, the two icons of slalom, Albeau and Dunkerbeck are currently sat outside of the top three, after mixed performances on day six. Antoine Questel leads the way after a breathtaking display to properly announce himself in the slalom world.
The women’s division promises to be just as exciting with Jaggi and Arrighetti fighting tooth and nail for the top spot. The forecast for tomorrow is great again, so we should be in for another day of exhilarating racing. The skipper’s meeting has been called for 08:30 tomorrow morning with racing commencing from 9am.
Men’s Slalom Standings After Elimination 4:
1st Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails)
2nd Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails)
3rd Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft Sails / Mystic)
4th Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
5th Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear)
Women’s Slalom Standings After Elimination 4:
1st Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic)
2nd Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne)
3rd Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde)
4th Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde)
5th Cagla Kubat (Starboard / Loft Sails)
PWA World Tour website
PWA Ulsan Korea World Cup website
by PWA World Tour
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8:57 PM Thu 10 May 2012GMT
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