Fuerteventura PWA World Cup
The final day of racing at the 2019 Fuerteventura PWA World Cup - sponsored by René Egli - saw two more exhilarating eliminations completed as the big top three went toe-to-toe once again in the battle to be crowned the 2019 Fuerteventura PWA World Cup Slalom Champion. With clear skies and excellent winds, the last two eliminations of the event were completed with most sailors on 6.2-7.0s to provide a fitting finale to what has been a superb racing event with Sotavento once again delivering outstanding conditions.
At the start of the final day of racing, the battle for the event title was still a three-horse race between Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde), Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins) and Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne) with just 3 points separating the big top 3.
However, to remain in the race for the event title Iachino would be required to win Elimination 8 and that’s exactly what the Italian managed to do as he led from start to finish to claim a crucial bullet - his third of the week.
Behind him, Albeau and Mortefon were locked in another epic tussle with the two heavyweights continually exchanging places, which led to a drag race for the finish line which Albeau would eventually win to secure an important second place as that result would then eliminate Mortefon from the event title race, leaving just himself and Iachino to battle it out!
The odds at this point were largely stacked in Albeau’s favour as a top two finish would guarantee him the title, and given that AA had only finished outside the top 2 twice in the preceding 8 races it seemed unlikely. While, in the scenario that Albeau was to finish 3rd or worse, Iachino would still be required to win the 9th Elimination.
In the end, Albeau didn’t leave the result in any doubt as he did what he does best in Sotavento by claiming a decisive bullet in the final elimination of the week to claim his 12th victory here in last 14 years - continuing his unbelievable dominance of the event. Having started the event very consistently the 25-time world champion then threw down the hammer in the second half of the event by winning 3 out of the last 4 races. Albeau came into the event tied on points with Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone), but leaves Fuerteventura with a 600 point lead.
The big top 3 have been truly dominant here, once again proving that they are in a different league to the rest of the fleet. In windsurfing terms they are the equivalent of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the tennis world, such is their unbelievable dominance and consistency on the racecourse. Between them, they qualified for 26 out of 27 winners’ finals (96.3%), while between them they also won 8 out of the 9 eliminations completed (88.89%) - 3x Albeau, 3x Iachino, 2x Mortefon. In the event rankings, Julien Quentel (Patrik / Gun Sails) was the next closest challenger in 4th, but he was a staggering 29.6 points behind Iachino in 3rd place.
Mortefon finishes the event in an excellent second place after getting the better of Iachino in the final race of the day, while Iachino completes the podium. Mortefon remains 3rd in the overall rankings, while Iachino climbs from 9th to 5th and both men will be firmly back in the hunt for the 2019 world title if they can record solid results in Denmark - as they will then be able to discard a 12th and 25th place respectively.
In the end, Julien Quentel was extremely fortunate to hang on to his fourth place as after yesterday’s quarterfinal exit in Elimination 7, the 33-year-old should’ve been eliminated at the quarterfinal stage of both of today’s eliminations. Quentel was outside the top 4 in both Elimination 8 and 9 as they headed for the final mark and on both occasions, the sailors in comfortably qualifying fell to offer Quentel a much-needed lifeline. Quentel would then go on to finish 10th and 7th, which was crucial with Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) remaining in 5th place by just 1.3 points after finishing 6th and 7th today.
Maciek Rutkowski (FMX Racing / Challenger Sails) finished the event with a flurry to cement his 6th place in the event rankings, which is the Pole’s best result to date on the world tour. Rutkowski has sailed extremely consistently for the entirety of the event never finishing outside the top 14, while he ended the event with a superb 3rd place and with a little bit more luck earlier in the event he could’ve finished even higher.
Jordy Vonk finishes the event in 7th place, which keeps the flying Dutchman second in the overall rankings, while Finian Maynard (FMX Racing) enjoyed an excellent end to the event with a 4th and a 9th today, which sees him rise 5 places into 8th.
Elsewhere, Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Phantom Sails / Chopper Fins) signed off the event with his best result in a single Slalom elimination - second - which sees the 30-year-old climb one place into 9th, while Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails) falls two places to 10th after two quarterfinal exits today.
The top 16 is completed by Antoine Questel (I-99 / S2Maui), Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde), Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde), Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins), Cyril Moussilmani (RRD / RRD Sails) and Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails / Chopper Fins).
Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) and Maaike Huvermann (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) look set for a title race showdown here after a thrilling battle in Bonaire earlier this year, which saw Huvermann force a Super Final. Offringa eventually came out on top and will start as the favourite for the event, but there’s no doubt that Huvermann is bridging the gap each year. Offringa’s consistency in Fuerte’s tough choppy waters may prove critical in deciding the event and world title, but it promises to be an intriguing battle.
However, Oda Brødholt (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins), will be hoping to impose herself on the top two and could very well do just that. The Norwegian has been locked in several tight battles with Huvermann in recent years and will be determined to gain the upper hand this time around.
Elsewhere, Arrianne Aukes (Fanatic / Duotone / Maui Ultra Fins) should be in an around fourth place, but a spot on the podium may prove a step too far. Meanwhile, Johanna Rümenapp (I-99 / Gun Sails / Maui Ultra Fins) will be hoping to challenge Aukes for fourth place as will Olya Raskina (JP / NeilPryde), who returns to the lineup after missing last year’s event.
With the Freestyle coming after the Slalom this year - Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne), who is currently ranked 12th in the Slalom - has chosen not to compete in the racing as he understandably prioritises his bid to finally get his hands on the Freestyle world title. The Bonairean completed a sublime comeback in Bonaire to claim victory on home waters, which puts him in pole position coming into Fuerte. Vrieswijk won the event here in 2016 and knows another win here would cement his spot at the top of the rankings.
Vrieswijk’s biggest rival in recent years has been 9-time PWA Freestyle World Champion - Jose ‘Gollito Estredo (Fanatic / Duotone) - but the Venezuelan finds himself in the unusual position of coming into Fuerte ranked in a lowly 13th after a shock loss to Julian Mas (Gun Sails) in Bonaire, which more than likely rules him out of this year’s title race. However, Vrieswijk can expect no favours from Gollito, who will no doubt be looking to return to the top of the podium. The 30-year-old has won here for the last two seasons and could well complete a hat-trick.
Youp Schmit (I-99 / Avanti) is currently Vrieswijk’s closest rival in second after the Bonairean won the single elimination in Bonaire, but couldn’t quite hold on to that crown while sailing through injury. However, whether Schmit can keep up with the pace remains to be seen as he last finished in the top 10 here in 2013. World No.3 Julien Mas (Gun Sails) has chosen not to compete.
Yentel Caers (I-99 / Point-7) should be a major threat over the 5-day freestyle battle with the Belgian finishing on the podium here in each of the last three years. Caers will also come into the event full of confidence having just been crowned European Freestyle champion.
You can also expect to see strong performances from Italian Giovanni Passani (Tabou / GA Sails / AL360), who was one of the standout sailors in Bonaire and he deservedly earned his best result yet - 5th with his finesse and power catching the eye.
Elsewhere, Antony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails) usually performs well here and will be hoping for a result in the top 5. Meanwhile, current vice-world champion - Adrien Bosson (Fanatic / Duotone / Maui Ultra Fins) - will be hoping to return to the podium here. The Frenchman was a little unlucky in Bonaire as he posted one of the highest scoring heats of the contest, but ran into an on fire Vrieswijk. Bosson finished 2nd here last year and has all the latest moves on both tacks and could challenge for the event title again.
Other names to keep an eye out for are Steven Van Broeckhoven (Starboard / Gun Sails), Jacopo Testa (RRD / RRD Sails / AL360), Sam Esteve (JP / NeilPryde), Dieter van der Eyken (Severne / Severne Sails), all of whom usually deal well with the tricky conditions. Davy Scheffers (Tabou / GA Sails) is currently ranked 7th in the overalls, but sometimes struggles here Fuerteventura so it will be interesting to see how he fares.
The Freestyle fleets will be registering for the competition tomorrow morning between 10-11am (GMT+1) with the skippers’ meeting then been held at 12:30pm with a first possible start at 1pm. With an excellent forecast to come the Freestyle looks set to start with a bang!
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Overall Ranking 2019 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam - Men’s Slalom
1st Antoine Albeau (FRA - JP / NeilPryde)
2nd Pierre Mortefon (FRA - Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins)
3rd Matteo Iachino (ITA - Starboard / Severne)
4th Julien Quentel (SXM / Patrik / Gun Sails)
5th Cedric Bordes (FRA - Tabou / GA Sails)
6th Maciek Rutkowski (POL - FMX Racing / Challenger Sails)
7th Jordy Vonk (NED - Fanatic / Duotone)
8th Finian Maynard (KV - FMX Racing)
9th Alexandre Cousin (FRA - Patrik / Phantom Sails / Chopper Fins)
10th Ross Williams (GBR - Tabou / GA Sails)