Alberto Menegatti received his just rewards - after a winter of hard training - as he made the perfect start to the season. Not only did Menegatti win the first elimination of the year, but he also managed to hold his nerve to claim his first ever event victory on the PWA World Tour. The Italian showed his blistering pace time and time again to quite literally blow his fellow competitors away, as he led the opening race from start to finish with a commanding performance. The twenty-eight year old then consolidated his place at the top of the rankings with a solid second and fourth place. However it wasn't all plain sailing for Menegatti as he endured a nail-biting wait on the final day, having been disqualified from race four in the quarterfinals, following a premature start. This presented the opportunity for Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) to swoop in and steal Menegatti's thunder, but thankfully for the Italian deteriorating winds soon came to his rescue as the fourth elimination was abandoned before being completed. With no discard coming into play, a delighted Menegatti was crowned the King of Jinha beach.
Alberto Menegatti speaking after his first ever event victory: "I thought I'd lost the event - even though Antoine (Albeau) would have still had to finish third or better in the winners' final - so I'm still processing it. I'm super happy, I'd like to thank my fin sponsors - Z Fins - for their help throughout the whole winter as their fins allow me to be fast in both flat water and waves. I'd also like to thank my friend from South Africa Peter Langley after he helped me a lot when I was there this winter. At the start of the season if someone would have offered me 3rd, 4th or 5th place I'd have happily taken it. To have finished in first is just a dream. I also need to thank both my sail and board sponsors as the equipment couldn't work better and I couldn't have wished for a better start."
The reigning world champion, Antoine Albeau, bounced back from an earlier than planned exit in the first race - having suffered a broken fin - to take his first bullet of the season in the second elimination as he fended off competition from Alberto Menegatti, Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) and his arch nemesis Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz), before finishing in third place in the final race of the event. After the first event of the year the big Frenchman finds himself in second place and he is now perfectly poised to make an attack for the top when the slalom recommences on the 11th June in Costa Brava.
Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic / Different) completes the top three after producing a super consistent display. The Flying Dutchman finished with two fifths in the two winners' finals he reached, whilst also finishing fifth in the losers' final of race two.
Elsewhere, Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) rediscovered his winning ways as the Israeli stormed to victory in the third race, as he combined a brilliant start with lightening speed over the remainder of the course to claim his first elimination victory in four years. Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Loft Sails) also proved that his sponsorship change is working well for him by claiming second, whilst taking home sixth overall. Meanwhile, Bjorn Dunkerbeck, surprisingly, missed out on a place in the top ten. The terminator was left ruing his luck due to a broken sail in the opening race, which left him carrying a score of 30.5 points. With no discard, this impacted his overall ranking tremendously despite a fourth and fifth place in the remaining two races.
Karin Jaggi was without doubt the shining star in the women's fleet as the Swiss gem reigned victorious in two out of the three races. After such a magnificent performance, Jaggi has now reaffirmed her title winning credentials and she is most definitely the woman to beat when the women's fleet takes to the water in Turkey.
Karin Jaggi speaking after winning the first event of the season: "It's always good to naturally start the season ahead. The best thing for me is that I feel really comfortable on my equipment, I still made a few mistakes, but I have such good board speed and control in pretty much all conditions. I think it can be quite a good season for me. Now I'll be traveling to Thailand for a bit for work, before going back to Australia, then heading back to train in Europe - I'll probably head to Gran Canaria early to get used to the conditions."
Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde) will be delighted with how she performed over the duration of the week as she claimed an incredible second place, which is the twenty-two year olds best ever result, thus far on the PWA World Tour. Cousin combined her terrific board speed with consistent gybes to make everyone sit-up and take notice, and she is definitely a name to look out for - not only for the remainder of the season - but also for years to come.
The reigning world champion, Valerie Arrighetti, was left to settle for third place, which is somewhat of a surprise when you consider her previous record here in South Korea. The French lady had won three out of the last four times here on Jinha beach, but this time around it wasn't to be.
The Japanese contingent of Ayako Suzuki (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic) and Mio Anayama (Starboard / NeilPryde) performed admirably over the course of the week, as they finished in fourth and fifth place respectively. The highlight of the week saw Suzuki take home second place in the third race, after a brilliant winners' final.
The Turkish duo of Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft Sails / Mystic / AL360) and Cagla Kubat (Starboard / Loft Sails) came into the event with high expectations, but things didn't quite go their way this week as they finished in sixth and seventh place. Erdil - who finished last year in third place - started the week strongly with a third, but unfortunately for her, she wasn't able to match this performance over the next two races. Both women will now be hoping to excel in front of their home fans at the next event in Alacati.
The next event sees the men heading to the glorious sunny shores of Costa Brava between the 11 to 16 June, whilst the women will recommence battle from the 19 to 24 August. Make sure that you join us again next month to see how the race for the top develops as the season gathers pace.
The 2013 Ulsan PWA World Cup Overall Standings: Men's Slalom
1 Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7)
2 Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
3 Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic / Different)
4 Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne)
5 Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde)
The 2013 Ulsan PWA World Cup Overall Standings: Women's Slalom
1 Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne)
2 Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde)
3 Valerie Arrighetti (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic)
4 Ayako Suzuki (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic)
5 Mio Anayama (Starboard / NeilPryde)
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