by Chris Yates
The 2013 Ulsan PWA World Cup is set to take place between the fourth-10th May. The opening slalom event of the year will see the fastest sailors in the world heading to South Korea’s famed Jinha beach, which is situated just half an hours' drive from the bustling metropolitan city of Ulsan.
Benoit Mussilmani - PWA Ulsan Korea World Cup 2012
Jinha beach has quickly earned itself the reputation of being the top windsurfing destination in the country, due to it’s beautiful white sand beaches and reliable trade winds, which blow consistently between May and June. South Korea often proves to be one of the most challenging stops on the tour, which guarantees an enthralling week of warp speed slalom. Expect tempers to flare as the sailors try to take the highs with the lows.
Seven days of fully charged slalom as the fastest sailors in the world go head-to-head in the opening slalom event of the year, as they battle it out for those crucial early season world tour points.
Who to watch in the Men's fleet
After a long winter break it’s going to be interesting to see if anyone can break the old rearguard consisting of the reining world champion Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) and his arch nemesis Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz) who have dominated the slalom scene in recent seasons. Dunkerbeck will be looking to exact revenge against his biggest rival, after Albeau snatched the world title from beneath the terminator’s nose in the final event of 2012.
Buzianis out in front - PWA Ulsan Korea World Cup 2012
Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails) enjoyed a fantastic season in 2012 as he returned to the overall podium for the first time since 2007. The American will hold fond memories of South Korea having claimed victory here last year and he’ll be hoping he can replicate the same form again over the coming week. Buzianis has a wealth of experience and is one of the best starters on the tour, so he’ll certainly be in the thick of the action.
Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) showed his true potential over the duration of last season. Not only did Quentel demonstrate that he is one of the quickest sailors on the tour, but he also showed the level of consistency that is needed to challenge for top honors. The man from Saint Maarten enjoyed his best year to date in 2012 - claiming fourth - and he’ll now be looking to earn himself a place on the coveted podium.
After completing his winter move to Gaastra it’s going to be interesting to see how Ben van der Steen (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic / Different) performs in the first event of the year. The flying Dutchman is without doubt one the quickest and most talented sailors on the tour, and he’ll be looking to combine his straight line speed with fully planing gybes to claim a place in the top three by the end of the week.
Josh Angulo returned to Gun Sails during the close season, after his well-publicized split from them in 2011. Angulo has finished in the overall top ten for the previous two years and we see no reason for this to change. Having finished ninth in 2011 and sixth for 2012, the two times PWA wave world champion will be hoping to continue his trend of moving onwards and upwards as he goes in quest of a third world crown.
Other sailors who will all be vying for a place in the top ten come the end of the week include the ever consistent Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North), who tends to revel in the challenging conditions that the Sea of Japan produces. France’s fiery Frenchman, Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne / Mystic) made a slow start to the season last year, but if he can show the sort of form he produced at the backend of last year, he’ll certainly be challenging for the top spots. Peter Volwater (Fanatic / Avanti) is one of the most competitive sailors on the tour and he’ll be hoping to replicate the form, which saw him finish eighth last season. Also the trio of Australia’s Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne), Spain’s Ludovic Jossin (Patrik / Loft Sails) and Italy’s Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7) will all be battling it out to force their way into an extremely competitive top ten.
The main name of note missing from the men’s fleet will be Britain’s Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra), who finished third here last year whilst claiming seventh place overall. Williams suffered a fractured Talus (ankle bone) at the end of March, and unfortunately South Korea has come a little too soon for Williams to be able to make the inaugural slalom event of 2013.
Finally there will be a whole host of Korean and Asian sailors who have the potential to cause an upset. With their extra inside knowledge about the local conditions, there’s certainly going to be no easy races at this event.
Who to watch in the Women's fleet
All eyes will be on the reigning world champion, Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic), the French star usually excels in the challenging conditions of South Korea, which is further demonstrated by the fact she has won here for the past two seasons. Arrighetti will be determined to complete an illustrious hat trick of event wins.
Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne) came as close as you can to winning the world title as she finished on equal points with Arrighetti in 2012. The Swiss Gem will be looking to exact revenge on her fierce rival. Jaggi is renowned for her outstanding top speed and silky smooth gybes, which make her a serious contender for the not just the title in South Korea, but also for the overall crown.
Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft Sails / AL360 / Mystic) created windsurfing history last year, as she became the first Turkish lady to finish in the top three overall. With an ever improving skill set and the ambition to match, Erdil will be looking to break into the illustrious top two.
Also in contention will be the youthful talent of Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde). The twenty-one year old demonstrated last season her fantastically timed starts time and time again. With a little more composure over the remainder of the course Cousin could easily be challenging for podium honors come the end of the week. Finally Cagla Kubat (Starboard / Loft Sails) and Marion Mortefon (Starboard / Severne) will be hoping that they can break into the top five and above.
Due to her studying commitments the 2011 PWA Slalom world champion, Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins / Chris Benz) will unfortunately be missing from the women’s fleet, which leaves the door wide open for the rest of the women to take full advantage of her absence.
The first installment of the PWA Slalom World Tour is just days away, so all that’s left for you to do is sit back, relax and enjoy seven days of warp speed slalom. Expect to see tempers flare as the best men and women in the world look to get off to a winning start.
PWA World Tour website
PWA Ulsan website