The inaugural day of the 2014 PWA Catalunya World Cup saw a hazy and chilly start, however it wasn't long before bursts of sunshine started to burn through the cloud, as the sailors registered for the upcoming competition between 10:00 - 12:00, whilst also selecting their weapons of choice for the season ahead.
With registration completed and a light onshore breeze already building it wasn't too long before the first heats of 2014 were completed in winds ranging from 8-12 knots, which saw the elite of the slalom world reaching for their biggest boards and sails. By the end of day one the first round of the opening race had been concluded.
The first heat of the year was eventually completed at the third time of asking after two general recalls. First of all Emmanuelle Messiaen (JP / NeilPryde) made a premature exit on his debut on the PWA World Tour as he jumped the gun, before Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde) suffered the same fate on the very next attempt. When the heat successfully started Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Loft Sails / Mystic) made the best start and he was able to maintain his lead from start to finish to successfully book his place in the quarterfinals along with Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne), Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Loft Sails) and Sean O'Brien (Starboard / Severne).
Heat two saw Arnon Dagan (JP / NeilPryde) produce a fine display as he fought his way from third place at the first mark to having built a significant lead come the finish line. Andrea Rosati (RRD / NeilPryde) secured second place, whilst Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) and Finian Maynard (RRD / Avanti) clinched the remaining qualifying places.
Into heat three and it was Chris Pressler (Starboard / Severne) who timed his start to perfection, unfortunately the Austrian couldn't make that advantage count as he missed out on a place in the next round. Matteo Iachino (Fanatic / North) came out on top, building a comfortable lead by the end, whilst Sylvain Moussilmani (Simmer), Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails) and Malte Reuscher (RRD / Challenger / AL360) also successfully navigated their way into the quarters.
Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA) made the best start to heat four, but by the first mark Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7) had charged into the lead, a position he would maintain until the finish line proving that he is fighting fit and ready for the week ahead. Behind him Sebastian Kordel (GA) claimed second place with Jordy Vonk (F2 / Point-7) and Bordes in third and fourth place respectively, after a hard fought fight with Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North) who eventually had to settle for fifth place.
Ben Van Der Steen (Tabou / GA / Mystic / Different) led from start to finish in the fifth heat of the day after an assured display of sailing. The flying Dutchman together with Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) opened up a significant lead over the remainder of the pack by the third buoy leaving Marco Lang (Fanatic / North) and Andrea Ferin (RRD / Challenger / AL360) to claim the final two qualifying places.
Heat six witnessed the biggest shock of the day as Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Chris Benz / Dunkerbeck Eyewear) failed to advance from the opening round. The Terminator held fourth place as he entered the first mark, but got caught on the exit as a combination of light winds and Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne) sneaking past halted his progress, a position he was unable to recover from on this occasion. At the front of the pack was Ludovic Jossin (Patrik / Loft Sails) closely followed by Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins), Benoit Moussilmani (Simmer) and his brother Cyril Moussilmani.
Dunkerbeck reflected on day one, "The wind started off pretty good 10-12 knots and sunny, up until my heat no. 6 it was on the limit but ok, then a cloud came, the wind dropped and changed angle, so even on my 10m2 Severne reflex 5 and 130 Litre Starboard I was underpowered. I'm really happy with the sail but in no wind there is a limit. A few heats later the day was called off for not good enough wind for slalom. Looks like there will be Tramontana in a few days… I really hope to get some better wind for windsurfing soon and some fun slalom."
The penultimate heat of the day saw Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails) cruise to victory ahead of Casper Bouman (Angulo / NeilPryde), Damien Le Guen (Exocet) and Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun Sails).
Heat eight featured the reigning world champion Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) and he didn't disappoint as he battled to victory against fellow countryman Pascal Toselli (Starboard / Point-7). Toselli was leading into the final gybe, but Albeau pumped his way aggressively out of the turn and was able to power past Toselli to clinch first place. Ross Williams (Tabou / GA) eventually finished in third place, whilst Kurosh Kiani (Angulo / Point-7 / Maui Ultra Fins) took the final qualifying spot.
After this point the wind became more fickle as thunder and lightning began to appear in the distance, which resulted in the sailors being released shortly after 5pm. The forecast for tomorrow promises much the same as today, however the accompanying rain could play havoc with the local effect, so it will be a case of wait and see. The skippers' meeting has been called for 10am tomorrow morning with the action commencing from 10:30 local time.
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