Once again the day dawned quiet and tranquil here on the magnificent Ballena Alegre campsite. However the morning calm was quickly replaced by a stiff southwest wind, giving testing side shore racing conditions. With gusts up to 20kts and lulls at around the 10kts mark it proved difficult even for the world's best.
Early round highlights and upsets
Race 1 continued as expected, with all of the top 20 seeds passing through to the quarterfinals without any troubles. Perhaps the only real surprise was Gabriel Browne (Starboard/MauiSails). Suffering with the flu his concentration was clearly absent and he crossed the start line early, leaving him in bolt last position.
By the quarterfinals, things were heating up. Heat 9 saw number three seed Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet/MauiSails) jump the gun, ending his run at a very early stage. A hot tip after his performance in Austria, Julien Quentel (RRD/NeilPryde), also saw his race end in the quarters, after taking the fateful 5th position of heat 10.
Heat 11 saw one of the favourites for the event Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra) blow up down the reach as his outhaul rope exploded. He was left swimming and was forced to watch his rivals disappear without him. Heat 12 almost witnessed the biggest upset of the day as World Champion Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) missed the boom coming out of the gybe. Using all his strength he muscled the sail upright and continued into the semi-final.
By the semi-finals things were really tight at the top. Arnon Dagon (Tabou/Gaastra) was fighting hard for his spot in the top-8 but with 4 guys hitting the gybe at the same time there was always going to be at least one loser. Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) was also out in this same heat. He gambled on a smaller fin, but when the predicted increase in wind failed to materialise he was left lagging in the middle of the fleet.
The second semi-final saw Albeau step into top gear. An on-fire Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails) led from the start, but Antoine hauled him in and in fighting for first Pete nearly lost out completely as Steve Allen attacked from behind to take 2nd.
The loser’s final saw Dunkerbeck take a comfortable lead from the start and eventually win by over a hundred metres. Other than his slip up in the semi he looked solid all day. Patrik Diethelm (F2/North Sails) had also been in great form all day, but a rare starting mistake cost him his slot in the top-8. He finished 2nd in the losers final ahead of Josh Angulo (Angulo/MauiSails) in 3rd.
The winners final really was a spectacular end to the day. Off the start it was Steve Allen that took control and arrived at the first gybe in first place. Right on his tail were Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde) and Antoine Albeau - both attacking for that number one slot. Antoine muscled his way through, coming out of the gybe in a dominant position. As the three of them all fought to hold their ranking, Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) capitalised on the battle, sailing high, keeping out of trouble and moved into attack position coming into the outside gybe. Antoine held onto first, Williams stayed on his tail in 2nd and Allen just about held off Buzianis to take 3rd.
The standard of the women’s fleet has risen dramatically and this event sees 16 competitors of the highest level. Even more impressive is how low the average age of the competitors are, showing how great the future looks for women’s racing.
First round standout was Alice Arutkin (Starboard/North Sails). She blasted into 1st place ahead of World Champion Karin Jaggi (F2/Severne). At just 17 years old she is definitely a hot tip for the future. Unfortunately for her a timing mistake in the final meant she eventually finished 6th.
The losers final was won by fired up French woman Morane Demont (Starboard/Severne). Demont had an over-early in the first round, but made no mistakes in the losers' final. Cagla Kubat (Starboard/North Sails) looked very comfortable and took 2nd. A winter in Maui, training with Jimmy Diaz (Starboard/North Sails), has clearly paid off. In 3rd position young Turkish hope Lena Erdil (Starboard/Loft Sails) was fuming. She had been leading an earlier heat when it was cancelled and in the re-run things didn’t go the same way. Sometimes racing can be very cruel.
The final was a more traditional affair with Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou/Loft Sails) and Karin Jaggi blasting into the lead and fighting for the top spot. A poor start from Karin opened the door for Valerie and she made no mistake taking advantage of it. In 3rd place was a surprised Marta Hlavaty (Starboard/MauiSails). More at home on an RSX board, she used her light wind skills to work through the lulls and move into the final podium position.
With four more days to go, it is all still to play for so stay tuned to www.pwaworldtour.com and be sure to check the live event ticker tomorrow. First possible start is at 10.30am.
1st Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde)
2nd Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra)
3rd Steve Allen
4th Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde)
5th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard/North Sails)
6th Jimmy Diaz (Starboard/North Sails)
7th Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde)
8th Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails)
9th Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne)
10th Patrik Diethelm (F2/North Sails)
1st Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou/Loft Sails)
2nd Karin Jaggi (F2/Severne)
3rd Marta Hlavaty (Starboard/MauiSails)
4th Sarah Hebert (Starboard/Naish)
5th Lise Vidal (Exocet/North Sails)