The 2016 Catalunya PWA World Cup started with a flourish as the wind kicked in early on the opening day to allow the first elimination of the week to be completed. However, the sailors then faced a stern test of their patience as the wind took a break for a few days, before returning in the dying hours of the final day to provide a nerve-racking finale as the second race was finished.
Ultimately, Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North), who won the opening elimination — his first bullet of the season — held his nerve to be crowned the King of Costa Brava and the 26 year old now seizes control of the title race. Mortefon sailed well under pressure in the second race, keeping his cool in Heat 12 when he was outside of the qualifying positions after the first mark to eventually book his place in the semifinals after clinching 4th. Mortefon came agonisingly close to securing a maiden world title in 2015 — finishing level on points with Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) — and looks set to mount a serious challenge again.
Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) returned to the podium for the first time since 2014 as he secured 2nd place in Costa Brava. The Israeli looked lighting quick throughout the event and he qualified for both winners’ finals where he recorded 2nd and 5th place finishes respectively. Dagan’s latest result sees him rise to 5th in the overall rankings.
Andrea Cucchi (Starboard / Point-7) has been competing on the PWA World Tour for 20 years, but the Italian had never managed a top 3 finish until now. Cucchi clinched 3rd place in Costa Brava to earn a maiden podium as he pipped Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / North) into 3rd after storming to victory in the second elimination. After the second event of the season Cucchi rises to 7th overall.
Jordy Vonk equalled his best performance to date, in a single race, as the flying Dutchman secured 4th place in race one — emulating his 4th place finish in Sylt in 2013 — and was a little unlucky in the second winners’ final when he held 3rd place as he rounded the penultimate gybe only to be covered by the rest of the chasing pack, which resulted in a slow get away and a drop back to 6th. Vonk will still be delighted with his performance in Costa Brava, but may be a little disappointed, having agonisingly missed out on a podium finish by just 0.3 of a point.
Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / Challenger Sails) continued his fine start to the season by securing 5th place in Costa Brava, which sees the Frenchman climb to 4th overall. Toselli finished second in the opening race, looking blisteringly quick throughout, but was knocked out in the semifinals which cost him a shot at the podium. Toselli has bounced back after a slightly disappointing campaign in 2015 and will be full of confidence heading into the next event having gained back-to-back top 10 results.
Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North) will be delighted with his weeks work in Costa Brava as the President of the PWA recorded his first top ten finish since 2013. Diaz qualified for the winners’ final in race one, but was a little too eager to start with a bang which unfortunately resulted in a premature start. Diaz continued his excellent form into the second elimination where he finished 9th after claiming a clear victory in the losers’ final, which saw him earn 6th place overall here.
Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7) slips to 2nd in the overall rankings after a 7th place finish. The Italian qualified for the opening winners’ final of the week with ease, but was forced to slam on the brakes in order to avoid going over early and couldn’t recover from there. Iachino has still made an excellent start to the season and you can expect to see him challenging for the top again when he returns to action in Fuerteventura.
Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic) suffered a surprise early exit in race one as he was knocked out in the quarterfinals. However, the Brit recovered nicely in race two as he clinched 2nd place to finish 8th overall in Costa Brava, which sees Williams defend his 3rd place in the overall rankings.
Steve Allen (Patrik / Severne) again showed the level of consistency required to achieve top results as the Australian earned a 4th consecutive top 10 finish — 9th here. Allen has been a frequent member of the overall top 10 in recent years and he looks to continue that trend in 2016. After his performance here, Allen, rises to 6th in the overall rankings.
Meanwhile, the top 10 was completed by Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Mystic) and the PWA Youth Slalom World Champion looked set for a maiden podium after finishing 3rd in the opening race, but the 22 year old suffered a quarterfinal exit in the next race and will have to wait for another shot at the top 3.
Elsewhere, reigning world champion — Antoine Albeau — was only able to finish 17th here after a quarterfinal exit in race one, before a dropped gybe resulted in 8th place in the second winners’ final. The season hasn’t gone according to plan for Albeau thus far, but you can expect to see the 23-time world champion bounce back in Fuerte.
Fellow countryman Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne) entered in the event in second place, but he too suffered a disappointing result as he walks away with 23rd, which sees him fall to joint 10th.
The title race is starting to gather pace and it looks as though it could be a fight for the title between Mortefon and Iachino at this early stage. Antoine Albeau has almost no room for error now in the remaining events, but you still wouldn’t bet against him as he is often at his most deadly when he’s under pressure. The slalom fleet will return to action in about 6 weeks time in Fuerteventura.
Where’s Next on the PWA World Tour?
So far this season we’ve seen the freestyle and slalom fleets in action, so now it’s time for the most radical sailors in the world to take centre stage as the wave fleet prepare to begin their title challenges in Pozo Izquierdo for the Gran Canaria Wind & Waves Festival, which runs between the 3rd-9th July. Make sure you tune into www.pwaworldtour.com — here you’ll be able to follow all the amazing action as it happens via the PWA live stream.
Overall Result 2016 Catalunya PWA World Cup - Men’s Slalom 1st Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) 2nd Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) 3rd Andrea Cucchi (Starboard / Point-7) 4th Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / North) 5th Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / Challenger Sails) 6th Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North) 7th Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7) 8th Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic) 9th Steve Allen (Patrik / Severne) 10th Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Mystic) Current Overall Ranking PWA Men’s Slalom World Tour 1st Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) 2nd Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7) 3rd Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic) 4th Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / Challenger Sails) 5th Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) 6th Steve Allen (Patrik / Severne) 7th Andrea Cucchi (Starboard / Point-7) 8th Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti) 9th Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) 10th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne) 10th Antoine Questel (Starboard / GA Sails)