Six races for the men, and seven races for the women, on the Sea of Korea, allow the world’s most savvy slalom racers to prove their worth, collect their cash, gain those all important points towards their overall world ranking, and stake their claim for the highly coveted PWA slalom world title.
The opening rounds of the 2010 slalom season began on day 2 in Korea, allowing the French to leap ahead and take command after 3 fast an furious eliminations in the men’s fleet, and four for the women.
After a winter away, Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) dominated his early heats and earned his ticket to the race 1 final with ease. In the manner that we’ve come to accept, Albeau led the final from start to finish, creating a vibe that Korea would be another Antoine Albeau white wash.
However, in race 2, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne) put in a performance that was akin to that of his ‘80s and ‘90s days, flying off the start line without a second thought for anyone else and claiming a convincing victory. Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North) and Arnon Dagan (Tabou, Gaastra) also sailed an impeccable final to finish clear ahead of Albeau, and claim 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The unbeatable Albeau had already become beatable. And, this continued in race 3 when Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) found his form and claimed a bullet, redeeming himself of his premature start in the first race, and his 10th place finish in the 2nd.
Despite the first day of racing not belonging entirely to Albeau, he had been more consistent than any of his rivals, allowing him to take the early event lead.
With the 2009 slalom world champion, Valerie Ghibadou (Loft), out of the picture due to injury, Karin Jaggi (Patrik, Severne) was the event favourite from the word go. However, a premature start in the first race, had her playing catch up for the remainder of the event.
The young star, Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North), took full advantage of the situation claiming the first bullet of the season. Sarah Hebert (Naish), and Jaggi took the next two consecutive race wins with Arutkin posting consistent results just behind them. Arutkin went on to win the final race of the day, and take an early hold on the event with a great set of results.
The Waiting Game
A frustrating day of being teased by the wind, and another getting soaked by torrential rain, left Albeau and Arutkin sitting pretty at the top of their fleets on the beautiful Jinha beach.
A Day Of Mistakes
Day 5 saw a return to the norm. With the cloud dispersed and the land heating up, the thermal wind kicked in towards the mid-afternoon, allowing another full round of world-class racing.
The early heats saw plenty of upsets with many of the top seeds failing to make it through to the final. The first of these was Israeli sensation, Dagan who after a cracking start got covered at the first mark and was left at a standstill to watch as everyone else planed off into the distance. Next up was the flying Frenchman, Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North), who led a charge to the start slightly early, resulting in a PMS.
This turned into quite a trend for the day, with the likes of Josh Angulo (Angulo, Gun), Dan Ellis (Mistral), Wojtek Brzozowski (Starboard, Severne), Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine), and Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra), all picking up a PMS in various heats.
The biggest shock was yet to come however. During Dunkerbeck’s qualification round for the finals, he flew off the line with amazing speed and went straight into the lead. After rounding mark one with ease, he sped down the straight, but lost it on the second gybe, allowing everyone to pass him.
Whilst everyone else was playing fool to the wind, Albeau cruised through his heats yet again. And, with many of his rivals already down and out, he wounded them further with another race win, tightening his grasp on the Korean title.
With PMS being the score of the day, the inexperienced Arutkin, joined the masses, allowing Jaggi a clear run in the final.
Following Jaggi’s premature start in the first race of the event, the scores started to even up, and many wondered if the young Arutkin could hold on, or whether experience would win through.
Consistency Is Key
On the sixth day of competition, the thermal breeze developed early, giving everyone the opportunity to redeem themselves of their mistakes from the previous day.
Albeau stamped his authority on the event in a star studded final by pulling away from the rest of the fleet and taking another race victory by a convincing margin. Dunkerbeck did all he could, and led the rest of the pack, but this wasn’t enough to improve his chances of taking down Albeau.
A notable performance from Diaz during race 5 helped him to climb up the ranks, and claim his place on the podium.
The final race on the turquoise Seas of Korea went to Cyril Moussilmani, who despite carrying an injury to his ribs, and the fleet being tougher than ever, claimed it with ease. Going against the trend, with the wind decreasing, he chose to take a smaller rig. Apparently he was unable to pump his 9.0m because of the injury, so needed a sail that would make it easier on his body to get round the course. The risky choice paid dividends as he shot into the lead and never looked back, dropping off the plane only when he hit the beach!
After a very average start to the final race for Albeau, he pulled out all the stops, overtaking some of the quickest sailors in the world, including Maynard, to claim 2nd behind Moussilmani. It may not have been the ending that he wanted, but it was more than enough to secure him with the overall event victory.
Costly mistakes helped Jaggi cruise to victory in the final of race 6. Arutkin failed to qualify for the final after gaining another PMS. And, the young Aruban freestyle champion come slalom racer, Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, Gaastra), led the way round mark one but headed off to the wrong buoy, clearing the way for her rivals.
Offringa wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice however. She sped off the line in the women’s final of race 7, led the fleet, and added another victory to her long list of PWA achievements. Behind Offringa, it was all action as Arutkin and Jaggi collided whilst gybing rounding mark one. This spelt the end of it for Arutkin, as she handed overall victory to Jaggi, and allowed Offringa to sneak into 2nd overall.
The expression on Albeau’s face when he won the first race of the season was one of absolute joy. His winter training had paid off, and he remained on top of the world.
Diaz standing on the podium, fully suited and booted, in front of Ulsan’s most influential leaders at the closing ceremony. Will this lead to an official PWA dress code…
The many premature starts posted by the highest ranked sailors on tour. When you’ve worked hard all winter, to blow it by being over the line early is a tough pill to swallow.
Offringa realising that if she hadn’t sailed the wrong course in the final of race 6, she would have won the event! Lesson learnt.
1st Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) 6.1 pts
2nd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne) 16.7 pts
3rd Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North) 23.0 pts
4th Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde) 31.0 pts
5th Steve Allen (Starboard, Severne) 32.0 pts
6th Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) 35.2 pts
7th Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra) 36.0 pts
8th Sylvain Moussilmani (Starboard, Simmer) 41.0 pts
9th Arnon Dagan (Tabou, Gaastra) 48.5 pts
10th Ben Van Der Steen (JP) 50.0 pts
1st Karin Jaggi (Patrik, Severne) 9.1 pts
2nd Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, Gaastra) 10.7 pts
3rd Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North) 11.4 pts
4th Sarah Hebert (Naish) 16.7 pts