Jinha beach truly delivered the goods on day two of the Ulsan PWA World Cup as winds of between 14-25 knots created a slalom sailors paradise for the entire afternoon.
After several hours of adrenaline fueled slalom Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7 / Mystic) and Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne) were the sailors wearing the biggest smiles, as they claimed the opening bullets of the campaign. Meanwhile, there were a whole host of highs and lows as tempers flared during an action packed day.
Alberto Menegatti stole the show today as he led the first winners' final of the year from start to finish with a truly accomplished display. Over the course of the day the Italian looked a cut above the rest and he continued his form into the final as he demonstrated his phenomenal straight line speed and perfect gybes. His fellow countryman, Matteo Iachino (F2 / Challenger Sails / AL360) also made a great start and he pursued Menegatti into the first gybe ahead of Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) and Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails). Meanwhile, Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne) and Sylvain Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer) collided at the first mark, somehow Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic / Different) brilliantly avoided the chaos. With Menegatti cruising to victory the real battle was between Iachino and Questel and it was the Frenchman who put the pedal to the metal to maneuver himself into second place. Despite Iachino battling all the way to the finish line, Questel managed to hold off the twenty-three year old's challenge to claim second place, with Iachino having to settle for third. The top four was eventually completed by another Frenchman in the shape of Pierre Mortefon, leaving the flying Dutchman, Van Der Steen in fifth.
The opening elimination was packed with action as several big names failed to qualify for the winners' final, namely the reigning world champion Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) and his arch nemesis Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz). The big Frenchman had been looking in terrific form prior to heat fourteen and he even made the best start of the pack in the semifinal, but disaster soon struck as Albeau suffered a broken fin moments after crossing the start line, rendering his chances over, for the time being at least. Similarly Dunkerbeck suffered an equipment malfunction in the shape of a torn sail. Uncharacteristically the terminator dropped his opening gybe in the heat ten and with no room to maneuver Peter Volwater (Fanatic / Avanti) had no choice but to sail straight over the top of Dunkerbeck's equipment, which ended both of their races. The upsets weren't over there either as the ever consistent Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North), who usually revels in the tough conditions of South Korea also failed to make the semifinal, as did Finian Maynard (RRD / Avanti) and perhaps most surprisingly last years champion Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails), who was beaten to the final qualifying spot by Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Loft Sails / Mystic) after an epic battle.
The losers' final saw tempers flare as Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Gaastra) collided with Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun Sails) at the penultimate mark to send Angulo into the drink. At the time Angulo was sat in second place, but he soon found himself at the back of the fleet, after Bordes had taken full advantage of the racing rules - rightly or wrongly - to finish in third place behind Albeau and Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne / Mystic).
With the wind continuing to blow the opening eleven heats of race two were completed, but the second elimination wasn't without its drama either. In the opening round Ludovic Jossin (Patrik / Loft Sails) looked to be cruising into the quarterfinals, but a glaring error saw the thirty-six year old throw it all away as he crossed the finish line on the wrong side.
Waiting in the wings was a very grateful Daisuke Ikoma (RRD / MauiSails) who unexpectedly found himself qualifying for heat twelve. Heat nine was glittered with stars and Kurosh Kiani (Fanatic / Simmer) and Matteo Iachino clearly felt the pressure to make a good start in order to escape an incredibly tough heat, sadly for them they pushed a little too hard as they were both disqualified for false starts. Eventually Dunkerbeck, Bordes, Patrick Diethelm (Patrik / Loft Sails) and Josh Angulo all booked their places in the semifinal, but there was no place for Pieter Bijl (Angulo / NeilPryde) - who made the opening winners' final - which proves just how competitive the slalom fleet currently is. As the evening drew in the wind became increasingly fickle, which resulted in three unsuccessful attempts to complete heat twelve.
Japan's Ayako Suzuki (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic) made a flying start in heat sixteen, but she soon felt the force of a rampaging Karin Jaggi, who led into the first mark. Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft Sails / AL360 / Mystic) didn't make the best of starts, but a fantastic opening gybe saw the Turkish lady burst into second place. Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic) was still in contention at this stage, but her challenge for victory was all over by the second mark as the reigning world champion flamed her gybe and ultimately finished in eighth place. Jaggi in the meantime continued to extend her lead as the Swiss gem combined her superior top speed with silky smooth gybes and it wasn't long before the Swiss gem was taking the checkered flag to claim the first bullet of the season. Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde), meanwhile, had slowly been creeping through the fleet and the twenty-one year old made no mistakes around the final gybe to claim a brilliant second place ahead of Erdil and Mio Anayama (Starboard / NeilPryde).
The main surprise in the semifinal involved Marion Mortefon (Starboard / Severne), after the young French woman narrowly failed to qualify for the winners' final after a tussle with Anayama.
An eventful second day concluded just before six O'clock after four hours of furious slalom. Tomorrow's forecast promise the opportunity of further racing, so be sure to tune in from 10am when the skippers' shall be held - if the conditions are suitable then the racing shall resume with the men's heat twelve at 10:30am.
Results after Elimination One - Men
1st Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7)
2nd Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails)
3rd Matteo Iachino (F2 / Challenger Sails / AL360)
4th Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North)
5th Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic / Different)
Results after Elimination One - Women
1st Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne)
2nd Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde)
3rd Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft Sails / AL360 / Mystic)
4th Mio Anayama (Starboard / NeilPryde)
5th Cagla Kubat (Starboard / Loft Sails)
Scope The Action
For information on all the entrants, and to keep up to date with every piece of the action, navigate to www.pwaworldtour.com