The last six days in Ulsan, South Korea, have ultimately proved to be highly frustrating with the wind either remaining marginal or extremely gusty and shifty throughout. The penultimate day provided the best of the conditions, which allowed a result to be gained in the women’s fleet with defending world champion Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) taking the early season advantage.
Sarah-Quita Offringa made the perfect start to her title defence as she led from start to finish in the one elimination completed and she’ll be happy to have escaped the tricky conditions with victory heading into Japan.
Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360) chased home Offringa in second place, and already at this early stage of the season it looks as though it could be another fight for the world title between the Aruban and the Turk. Erdil looked blisteringly quick on the straights and it will be interesting to see the title race develop when they have more races under their belts.
Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails) returned to form to record her best result since 2015 and she’ll be delighted with her third place to kick off the season. The 25-year-old showed off textbook gybes to out manoeuvre her opponents in the final and she’ll be a threat again next week.
Esther de Geus (JP / Point-7), Maëlle Guilbaud (Patrik / LoftSails) and Oda Johanne (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) all walk away from Korea with their best results on the world tour so far after finishing 4th, 5th and 6th, respectively.
It was damage limitation for Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) after the two-time world champion missed out on the winners’ final after snapping her outhaul on day five. The 25-year-old did just that by winning the losers’ final, but realistically she can afford no more mistakes in the remaining three events if she wants to challenge for a third world crown.
A winter of training in Tenerife paid dividends for Nimet Tulumen (KA Sail) with the 28-year-old recording her first top ten finish - 8th - but fellow Turks Cagla Kubat (Starboard / Point-7) and Fulya Ünlü (Starboard / Point-7) will want to quickly forget this event after disappointing 13th and 19th place finishes.
Despite the men’s fleet being whittled down to the top 16, no result stands as it was not possible to complete the winners’ final, which will leave a bitter taste in the mouth for; Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails), Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins), Taty Frans (Starboard / GA Sails / Mystic), Maciek Rutkowski (Tabou / GA Sails), Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Windsurfing Sunglasses), Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti), Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails) and Cyril Moussilmani (99NoveNove / Severne) - all of whom would’ve been guaranteed a place in the top 8 or better.
Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Windsurfing Sunglasses) - world No.3 last year - will breathe a sigh of relief that his quarterfinal exit has not been punished and the Brit can head into Japan with a clean slate like the rest of the fleet.
Heat of Doom
Heat 14 - the second men’s semifinal featured Lang, Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / NorthSails), Quentel, Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / GA Sails / Chopper Fins), Iachino, Ben van der Steen (Patrik / Gun Sails) and Moussilmani - proved to be the heat of doom as it required a painstaking 13 attempts to eventually be completed.
In the end reigning world champion Iachino won the heat ahead of Quentel, Lang and Moussilmani, but in reality almost every sailor had been in the qualifying places at one time or another in the previous attempts. 23-time world champion - Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) - will be glad that the result did not stand after he was disqualified for a premature start when pushing in extremely light airs.
Emotions will vary greatly between the sailors depending on where they were in the elimination ladder, but ultimately everyone will now go into the next event in Japan on a level playing field.
To view previous news from South Korea — including the live stream, elimination ladders, entry list, images and live ticker simply click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Where’s Next on the PWA World Tour?
The second installment of slalom is just a few days away and the best slalom sailors in the world will be taking the short plane journey to Japan tomorrow to get ready for the Fly! ANA PWA World Cup, which takes place at Tsukuihama Beach in Yokosuka City between the 11th-16th May. Make sure you tune into www.pwaworldtour.com to follow all of the developments live from Japan - where hopefully the wind gods will be more cooperative.
Result 2017 Ulsan PWA World Cup - Women’s Slalom
1st Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins)
2nd Lena Erdil (Starboard./ Point-7 / AL360)
3rd Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails)
Story adapted from PWA.