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29 May 2014, 08:36 am
First Blood To Alberto Menegatti
Up close and personal
Up close and personal

PWA World Tour
Catalunya, Costa Brava, Spain

Overnight the forecast for the second afternoon improved greatly with more wind predicted and crucially the forecast for rain had been revised. Sure enough after a slow and sunny start to the day the wind soon started to build around lunchtime and by 14:20 the first elimination had been resumed in 8-13 knots. The winners' final was completed just in time as Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7) claimed the first victory of 2014.
Winners' Final

The first winners' final of the year saw Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7) and Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails) make flying starts, but with Menegatti down by the pin the Italian was able to race into the lead by the first buoy. Menegatti had looked blisteringly quick in his two heats prior to the final and he maintained his superb board speed to build an unassailable lead come the finish line, as he claimed the first bullet of the season to sit proudly at the top of the rankings this evening. Behind him Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne) battled his way into second place with a fine display - after out manoeuvring Buzianis at the first mark. The American eventually finished in third place after holding off the challenge of teammate Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / MFC) who claimed fourth. That left the reigning world champion Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) to settle for fifth place with Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde), Jordy Vonk (F2 / Point-7) and Sylvain Moussilmani (Simmer) completing the field.

The losers' final was started, but unfortunately had to be abandoned at the third gybe mark due to light winds. Despite the sailors being held for an additional hour the conditions never improved and so heat fifteen will be the first heat up on the third morning.

Before the final there were several intriguing and fascinating battles. First of all in heat nine two of the favourites - Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Loft Sails) and Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) - were disqualified after jumping the gun. This opened the door for Julien Quentel, Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne) and Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Loft Sails / Mystic) to safely book their place in the semis, whilst Andrea Rosati (RRD / NeilPryde) won the first close battle of the day against Sean O'Brien (Starboard / Severne) to clinch the final qualifying position.

In the very next heat Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails) and Sebastian Kördel (GA) mistimed their starts to become the latest sailors to be disqualified. When the heat was resumed Alberto Menegatti stormed to victory followed by Jordy Vonk, Sylvain Moussilmani and Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA). However, Matteo Iachino (Fanatic / North) narrowly missed out after an altercation at the first mark and Bordes managed to hold off his comeback attempt as the pair approached the finish line.

Heat eleven proved to be a superb heat for the spectator with a plethora of action. At the first mark Cyril Moussilmani held the lead ahead of Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North), Benoit Moussilmani and Ben Van Der Steen (Tabou / GA / Mystic). As the sailors entered the second gybe Taty Frans was back in sixth place, but after stepping on the gas and producing a magnificent gybe the Bonairean leapfrogged his way into the top four to book his place in the semifinals - with Moussilmani and Ludovic Jossin (Patrik / Loft Sails) ultimately missing out.

The final quarterfinal was relatively plain sailing in comparison as Pascal Toselli (Starboard / Point-7), Antoine Albeau, Micah Buzianis and Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun Sails) all successfully advanced into the next round.

The first semifinal saw Alberto Menegatti produce another scintillating display as he convincingly won the heat. Behind him though there was plenty of action and overtaking. First of all Alexandre Cousin turned on the afterburners to burst past Steve Allen as they entered the third gybe, before Jordy Vonk also managed to overtake the Australian. At this stage Cousin still held a substantial lead over Vonk - who was in fifth place - but the Dutchman cranked a tight gybe at the final mark to bring himself neck-and-neck with Cousin. The duo battled furiously along the final straight but Vonk crossed the finish line first, just a matter of inches ahead of Cousin. The twenty year old was clearly delighted on the beach as he became the youngest sailor in the winners' final. Also booking their place in the final were Sylvain Moussilmani and Julien Quentel.

Heat fourteen also had its fair share of drama. Josh Angulo made a flying start to the heat but couldn't make his early advantage pay as he missed out on a place in the winners' final. Antoine Albeau showed fantastic pace to lead into the first gybe followed by Ben Van Der Steen, Taty Frans and Cyril Moussilmani, with Pierre Mortefon just behind. On the second reach Frans seemed to struggle for pace, which allowed Mortefon to overtake, whilst Micah Buzianis produced a moment of brilliance to move from last to third after the gybe. Unfortunately for Ben Van Der Steen the second mark didn't have the same fortune for him as he got caught in the dirty wind of his rivals and fell to the back of the pack. With Albeau comfortably in the lead, Cyril Moussilmani and Buzianis claimed second and third place respectively, whilst Frans struck late to steal the final qualifying place from under the nose of Mortefon.

The third day of action will kick off bright and early with the skippers' meeting being called for 7:00. The latest forecast promises the infamous Tramontana wind - which last appeared here back in 2011, producing exhilarating slalom with gusts of up to 50 knots - so Thursday should see frantic, adrenaline fuelled racing with a first possible start at 7:30.
Make sure you tune into www.pwaworldtour.com to stay up to date with all of the latest action.
Chris Yates
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