Day 1 - A perfect start to Alaçati as race 1 sees Ross Williams and Sarah Hebert take the early advantage.
A strong morning wind and glorious sunshine gave competitors the perfect opportunity to get tuned up and registered in the beautiful Alaçati bay in preparation for the afternoon of racing ahead. The atmosphere on the beach was fantastic, with a local DJ banging out the tunes and the crowd relaxing on sunbeds.
Race 1 kicked off at 2pm with a 4-gybe downwind slalom course, in 25kts of wind. Most competitors selected sails around the 7.0-8.0 range and boards around 100-110 liters, and the racing was intense from the outset.
Standout performance of the early rounds was local hero Bora Kozanoglu (Starboard/NeilPryde). In the first heat of the day he flew into the lead, holding off Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) for the entire race, winning in front of a cheering home crowd. Having just finished 1st in the Turkish Championships, he is clearly going well and was unlucky to go over the line early in the quarterfinals.
Other local standout was Enes Yılmazer (JP/NeilPryde) who was sailing well all day. At only 18 years old and already 2 times Youth World Champion, he is clearly one to watch for the future.
First big name to fall was Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra/Dakine), who gave it everything, but couldn’t quite do enough to make the 4th place slot in the quarters with Sylvain Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style) just taking him on the line. Robby Swift (JP/NeilPryde) also missed out on a semi final place after getting pipped to the post by Andrea Rosati (RRD/NeilPryde).
By the semis the action was roasting. As the crowd watched on, the top 16 battled it out for a place in the final. The highlight of this round was the Dutch showdown between Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet/Simmer Style) and Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails). Volwater had held the 4th position the whole race, but coming down the final reach, speedster Van Der Steen put the pedal to the metal and cut Volwater off at the finish. Poor Volwater had no choice; either miss the finish line, or slow down and come in behind Van Der Steen.
The loser’s final saw Volwater make up for his early error by storming into a powerful lead and taking the victory with relative ease. Cedric Bordes (Tabou/Gaastra), raced brilliantly to finish 2nd and Alberto Menegatti (Starboard/Simmer Style) took 3rd.
Today however, the best was definitely saved until last. The final saw battles throughout as everyone jockeyed for positions before the race had even crossed the line. Angulo (Angulo/Maui Sails) blazed into the lead, with Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) nestling in behind. Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) and Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) seemed to be so carried away fighting each other that they gave valuable space to the rest of the fleet. Dunkerbeck saw his opportunity and pounced, driving over the top of Maynard and leaving him in his wake and moving into 4th.
Meanwhile at the front of the fleet Angulo looked to have it all sewn up, rounding the final gybe in the lead, with just an easy reach to victory. Williams however had had enough of the follow the leader racing and took a low line down the last reach in a daring move that would pay off massively. Poor Angulo was concentrating so much on those around him that he seemed to miss the Englishmen’s run, not spotting the stealth sails until it was too late. Williams crossed the line in first, with Angulo literally a meter behind. Albeau took 3rd whilst Dunkerbeck stayed ahead of Maynard in 4th.
Angulo “I looked around and saw Antoine behind me and thought that was the guy to worry about. I had no idea Ross was there right until the finish line. He had his little black sail, with technora and I didn’t look hard enough. It was my mistake. I need to get a bit more experience of being in first and winning races.”
Ross “I had a good start with speed and then tucked in behind Josh. On the last reach I just thought, “I go for it” and went low to see if I had the speed to take him. I am not sure he saw me until the line, but anyway I am really happy to be in this position.”
In the women’s fleet the action was loaded with costly mistakes. Ghibaudo (Tabou/The Loft), who leads the tour coming into Turkey, was forced over the line by Gillgren (Starboard/Severne) and forced to take a 10th place in the final. That should have opened the door for Jaggi (F2/Severne), but it was Sarah Hebert (Starboard/Naish Sails) that burnt into the lead, arriving first at the mark, holding on until the finish line, taking the win and with it the "sailor or the day" award. Alice Arutkin (Starboard/North Sails) put on a solid performance behind her to take 2nd. Jaggi almost appeared to be trying to hard. After making up ground on the leaders she dropped a gybe and let local legend Çagla Kubat (Starboard/North Sails) through into 3rd position. The local crowds were on their feet as the former “miss Turkey” model held off the World Champion. However it wasn’t to stay that way and Jaggi made up for her first gybing error by cutting inside at the final mark and moving back into the 3rd spot.
With only a 5-minute pause the men were back in action for elimination 2, quickly running the first 8 heats to complete the first round. All the usual suspects advanced leaving us with a dramatic start to tomorrow as we move straight into the high-octane quarterfinal action.
Mens Results after 1 Elimination
1 Ross Williams Gaastra, Tabou Boards
2 Josh Angulo Dakine, Angulo, MauiSails
3 Antoine Albeau NeilPryde, JP
4 Björn Dunkerbeck Starboard, Severne Sails
5 Finian Maynard RRD, NeilPryde
6 Ben Van Der Steen Simmer Style, Exocet
7 Micah Buzianis NeilPryde, JP
8 Jimmy Diaz Starboard, North Sails
Women Results after 1 Elimination
1 Sarah Hebert Starboard, Naish Sails
2 Alice Arutkin Starboard, North Sails
3 Karin Jaggi F2, Severne Sails
4 Cagla Kubat Starboard, North Sails
5 Marion Raïsi Naish Sails, Dakine, Exocet