The French flag is flying high with Alice Arutkin and Antoine Albeau leading their respective fleets after an adrenalin-pumping day in Ulsan.
When the clock struck twelve on the second morning of competition, Jinha beach turned into a hive of activity as an elite group of windsurfers were let loose on the race course for the opening round of the 2010 PWA slalom world tour.
The women opened up the proceedings with the utmost finesse, and completed four frantic rounds of competition before calling it a day. With fifty-seven registered in the men’s fleet, every full elimination saw fourteen heats before the finals begun. The hardy competitors endured three rounds of high-octane action before the sun went down on a remarkable day in South Korea.
Albeau On Top… Just
Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) proved consistency is key after racing to the front of the fleet on the Sea of Korea, scoring a bullet in the first round final, a fourth in the second, and a second in the third elimination today.
Reaffirming his dominance, Albeau was streets ahead in the first winner’s final leaving fellow JP/Pryde team mate, Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde) to settle for second, and Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne) with third.
After such a strong performance in the opening round, everyone thought that Albeau would be unstoppable for yet another year. However, the Terminator, and a few other sailors, thought differently. Dunkerbeck laid his cards on the table from the word go, accelerating ahead of the pack to gain a comfortable lead and take line honours. Could this be a return of his winning ways? PWA President, Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North) was also on impeccable form during this final, proving that he too has what it takes to battle with the best, finishing second. Israeli sensation, Arnon Dagan (Tabou, Gaastra), put in a great performance also, leaving Albeau to fight it out for fourth.
Following a dreadful start to the competition due to being over the start line early in his first heat, a lightening quick Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) stormed to victory in the final of race three. This left Albeau tussling for second with another of his long term rivals, Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra).
Arutkin All Over It
A consistent set of results help Arutkin to lead the way here in Ulsan.
The women’s fleet were battling hard right from the start, with a general recall in the first race of the season. Those pushing it to the extremes were the former world champion, Karin Jaggi (Patrik, Severne), and archrival, Sarah Hebert (Starboard, Naish). This left the course clear for rising star, Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North) to power off towards the first mark and never look back. Morane Demont (Starboard, Severne) followed her fellow French lady to second, with Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, Gaastra) settling for third.
Race two saw Hebert make amends to her score card by taking the next bullet, with Arutkin having to follow in both hers and Demont’s wake.
In the third race of the day, the legendary Jaggi showed the girls why she’s the most successful female racer on the planet with a return to form and a victory in the pocket. Arutkin continued to play the consistency game, and notched up a solid second place.
Offringa flew off the start line in the fourth race, and led by a considerable margin until the last mark where it all went horribly wrong. Having not seen the world champion fall off during an explosive freestyle heat for a while, it was a shock to see her swimming at the gybe mark. Arutkin was quick to take advantage, and stole the show from Offringa.
Britain’s Dan Ellis (Mistral) and Frenchman Benoit Moussilmani (Starboard, Simmer) met with some force, causing a spectacular crash on the first leg of their heat in race two. The unfortunate moment left Benoit sporting some interesting headgear for the remainder of the day making him easily recognisable from the beach. However, it didn’t seem to effect his performance too much as he stormed to 2nd place in the loser’s final of the last race!
“It’s always tough at the first event because everybody turns up with new gear, and I’d only trained with Micah and Robby Swift (JP, NeilPryde) over the winter, so I wasn’t really sure who would be going fast. There are loads of guys that could have made tremendous improvements over the winter, and we don’t get to find out until the first event. I’m still trying to get used to my new sails too on the course, but I’m very happy with how they’re performing. The 9.5 was great in the first and last race along with my big board, and the 8.6 went well with my medium sized board in race 2. Overall I’m pleased with my performance and happy to be leading for the moment.”
“Just six weeks ago I encountered a fairly large injury to my left knee, and it’s not back to 100% yet, so I was quite worried about how I’d perform here. My last race win has filled me with confidence though, so I’ll continue to push it hard for the rest of the event, and see where I end up.”
1st Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) 6.7pts
2nd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne) 7.7pts
3rd Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde) 15pts
4th Arnon Dagan (Tabou, Gaastra)19pts
5th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North) 20pts
1st Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North) 3.4pts
2nd Karin Jaggi (PD, Severne) 7.7pts
3rd Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, Gaastra) 8.0pts
SOURCE: PWA World Tour