The 2012 PWA Ulsan Korea World Cup took place at Jinha beach, a beach that has continued to enrich its ever growing reputation, by providing five captivating days of racing out of a possible seven. This year’s event truly was a culmination of blood, sweat and tears, as emotions ran high due to upsets and shock exits occurring left, right and centre, as well as seeing the emergence of a rising star in Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails). The women’s division saw the number one and two seeds battling it out for top honors, ensuring a nail-biting finish to a tantalizingly close contest.
After five full eliminations for both the men and women, Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails) proved that consistency is the key as he snatched the event title from under the nose of Antoine Questel, and in doing so denied the young Frenchman his first event title. Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic) claimed victory in the women’s fleet, with just a point between her and her closest adversary, Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne).
The first men’s elimination saw two out of last year’s top three missing from the winner’s final, with Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear) and Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft Sails) missing out. It looked like the door was open for Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) to seize control of the opening elimination, especially since Alberto Menegatti (Tabou / Gaastra) and Josh Angulo (Angulo / Point-7) both false started, however Bora Kozanoglu, in his first full year on tour, had different ideas and the Turk stole the show to claim victory in race one ahead of Albeau in second.
The shocks continued in the second race, as Kozanoglu and Albeau both failed to qualify for the winner’s final. Kozanoglu went down on a gybe in the quarter finals, a mistake he couldn’t recover from, whilst Albeau false started in the semi-finals along with Menegatti and Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde). Meanwhile Dunkerbeck returned with a vengeance after a disappointing tenth in the first elimination. The terminator just edged a photo finish on the finish line versus Van Der Steen to seal his first bullet of the competition. Third and fourth went to Micah Buzianis and Pieter Bijl (JP / NeilPryde).
In the third elimination, Albeau was dealt a hammer blow to his title chances as he false started for the second time, Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Fanatic / North) made the same mistake to leave just six sailors in heat sixteen by the time it was re-started. Ben Van Der Steen had pushed Dunkerbeck all the way in the previous race, and this time around the Dutch maestro dominated the fleet, delivering a blisteringly fast performance to claim victory and move into first place overall. Micah Buzianis continued to be Mr. consistent in second followed by Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic). Dunkerbeck on the other hand endured a nightmare final as he uncharacteristically crashed at the final mark to drop to sixth place.
In race four Dunkerbeck failed to progress past the quarter-finals in the fourth race due to hitting a piece of debris in the water, which sent him flying. It wasn’t just the current top seed who would be missing from the centre piece though as the current event leader, Van Der Steen, also narrowly missed out having finished fifth in his semi-final. Cue Antoine Questel to step forward and win his first ever elimination. The young Frenchman showed a combination of great composure and killer instinct as he left Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) and Albeau for dead. This result propelled Questel to the forefront of the slalom world as he replaced Van Der Steen as the current event leader.
The fifth elimination was packed with drama, first came the revelation that Bjorn Dunkerbeck would be unable to compete after slicing his foot open in a freak accident whilst preparing for his opening heat of the day. Then came the moment that Questel will want to forget for the rest of his life. When comfortably in the lead of his semi-final, Questel had a meltdown as he started sailing to the wrong mark after turn two, this left him unable to qualify from the semi’s and put his event title dreams in tatters.
Micah Buzianis only needed to finish in the top two of the winner’s final, after Questel’s mishap, to secure his first victory in a long time and the American made no mistakes. Buzianis performed impeccably over the duration of the week to claim a well-deserved victory. Ludovic Jossin (Patrik / Loft Sails) won the last elimination, with Williams completing the top three after a remarkable recovery, which saw the Brit, fight back from seventh place.
Elimination one for the women saw Karin Jaggi make a massive blunder as she crossed the line early, this meant the number one seed would not be lining up for the first winner’s final of Korea. Valerie Arrighetti took full advantage of her rival’s mistake by flying to first place in the opening race. The French woman looked in terrific form and it was obvious she was going to be hard to beat. Cagla Kubat (Starboard / Loft Sails) finished second, followed by Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde). Jaggi, meanwhile, suffered a horrendous start as she finished twelfth and left herself with it all to do.
The second race saw Karin Jaggi return to the winner’s final and with it came a performance we are more accustomed to seeing from the Swiss lady. Jaggi looked in a class of her own as she opened up a comfortable lead to stroll to victory. Arrighetti finished in second place, ensuring that she remained in control of the event, for the time being at least. Completing the top four was Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde) and Aubet.
Arrighetti continued her scintillating form to rack up another first place. Her latest victory meant she had won three out of last four races when you include Italy, as she laid down the gauntlet that she is a serious contender for the world title. Race three saw the closest finish of the competition as Jaggi tried desperately to reel in her rival on the last reach, Jaggi had far more speed but the damage had been done earlier on in the race, due to Arrighetti’s superior start, despite her best efforts she couldn’t quite recover the gap, leaving her to settle with second. Cousin put in another solid performance to find herself in third place once more, followed by Japan’s Fujiko Onishi.
Race four looked as though it would see Arrighetti wrap up the event victory. The French woman entered the final reach with a huge lead but as we’d seen throughout the week, anything can happen in Korea. Unfortunately Arrighetti caught a piece of sea grass around her fin, this enabled Jaggi to storm down the last reach and steal the victory from her visibly upset rival, who looked in utter disbelief as to what had happened.
Déjà Vu struck in the fifth and final race when Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic) made the same mistake as, Antoine Questel, by 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. Things had gone from bad to worse for Arrighetti as it looked like Karin Jaggi would snatch the event title by a cat’s whisker. However lady luck was shining on her side, as the usually lethal Jaggi failed to take full advantage of the opportunity presented to her by finishing third in the winner’s final. This wasn’t enough to dethrone Arrighetti as she was crowned the Queen of Korea. Delphine Cousin capped an excellent event with her best heat as she won the fifth race to secure a spot on the podium.
After the day’s action we caught up with the winners of the 2012 PWA Ulsan World Cup Korea:
Micah Buzianis: '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 everyone, 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.'
Valerie Arrighetti: '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.'
The 2012 PWA Ulsan World Cup Overall Standings : Men’s Slalom
1st Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails)
2nd Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails)
3rd Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra)
4th Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
5th Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft Sails / Mystic)
The 2012 PWA Ulsan World Cup Overall Standings : Women’s Slalom
1st Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic)
2nd Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne)
3rd Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde)
4th Fanny Aubet (JP / NeilPryde)
5th Fujiko Onishi
The next stop of the PWA World Tour will see the slalom fleet heading to Costa Brava, Spain from the 12th to the 17th of June.
PWA World Tour website
PWA Ulsan Korea World Cup website
by PWA World Tour
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8:00 PM Sun 13 May 2012GMT
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