As promised the wind arrived on the third day of the Airwaves Noumea Dream Cup PWA to provide an enthralling day of challenging racing in winds ranging from 10-25 knots. After almost seven hours of racing three eliminations have been completed for the men, whilst four races have been completed for the women. Delphine Cousin (Starboard / Loft Sails) enjoyed a fine day – keeping her title charge firmly on track – as she scored two bullets, a second and a third. Meanwhile, Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne) continued to show fantastic consistency as he qualified for every winners’ final and finished in the top four or better in each of the three races as he too remains at the top of the rankings.
Men’s – Elimination One – Winners’ Final
There was good news for Cyril Moussilmani in the opening winners’ final as he saw his main rival – Antoine Albeau – disqualified for a premature start, whilst Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun Sails) suffered the same fate, opening the door for Moussilmani to make the perfect start to his title charge. However, there was an element of controversy in the opening race as Albeau claimed to have dived downwind of the pin – meaning that he would be reinstated – however with no solid evidence to support this his appeals were turned away. Upon the restart Pierre Mortefon broke into the lead and they twenty-five year old continued to turn on the after burners to claim the opening bullet of the week. Meanwhile, Moussilmani, made the next best possible start as he claimed second place ahead of teammates Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) and Ben Van Der Steen (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic).
Elimination Two – Winners’ Final
Having been disqualified from the opening winners’ final – Antoine Albeau – responded in the perfect fashion as he crossed the start line in first place – together with Josh Angulo. After making a great start Albeau never looked back as he rounded the first buoy in the lead ahead of Angulo, Pascal Toselli (Starboard / Point-7) and Matteo Iachino (Fanatic / North). Over the remainder of the course – Albeau – opened up a substantial lead to claim his first victory of the week, but more importantly he struck back immediately to keep the pressure on Moussilmani. Behind him, Iachino, managed to out manoeuvre, Angulo, to take home second place, whilst Moussilmani leapfrogged into third place – having been outside the top four – after Angulo and Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails) both fell at the final mark, which also allowed Cedric Bordes to complete the top four.
Elimination Three – Winners’ Final
Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / MFC) crossed the start line first in the last winners’ final of the day, but it was all change by the opening buoy. As the fleet raced down the opening reach it was Cyril Moussilmani, who held the lead in front of Ben Van Der Steen, Cedric Bordes and Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails). However, at this point it was still very close with both Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) and Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) still firmly in the mix. Moussilmani looked to be taking a huge step towards the title – with Antoine Albeau missing from the winners’ final – but during his second gybe he caught his boom in the water, which cost him dearly as Bordes, Dagan, Van Der Steen and Quentel all overtook him by the time they had reached the third mark. The top two remained unchanged from here as Bordes celebrated ending the day, not only with a bullet, but also occupying top spot in the event rankings. Taty Frans in the meantime fought back to third place after coming from nowhere to execute a textbook gybe to overtake several of his rivals, whilst Moussilmani claimed fourth after Van Der Steen fell at the final mark.
Women’s – Elimination One
Delphine Cousin couldn’t have made a better start in her bid for the 2014 world title as she timed the start to perfection to break into an early lead. The reigning world champion safely rounded the first mark, as did Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou / GA Sails), but the same wasn’t true for either Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) or Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft Sails / Mystic / AL360), who both fell. By the third mark Cousin had opened up a substantial lead, which proved unassailable as she claimed the first bullet of the week, whilst eighteen year old Océane Lescadieu (Starboard / Loft Sails) made a fine start by claiming second place. Behind the front two, Offringa, had managed to battle back into third place, but saw all of her hard work undone as she dropped her final gybe – allowing Erdil and Ghibaudo to pass as they finished third and fourth respectively.
Elimination Two – Winners’ Final
Valerie Ghibaudo made the best start to race two, but couldn’t hold the lead into the first mark as Lena Erdil showed great pace to take the lead. The duo then enjoyed a hard fought battle over the next couple of reaches, but ultimately Erdil had too much in the tank on this occasion as she claimed her first victory of the week. Ghibaudo claimed second with Delphine Cousin in third and local girl Sarah Hauser (Tabou / MauiSails) taking home fourth.
Elimination Three – Winners’ Final
Delphine Cousin made another fine start to race three and she held top spot as the fleet rounded the first gybe. Behind her Sarah-Quita Offringa occupied second place followed by Maria Andres (Fanatic / Gun Sails / Mystic) and Valerie Ghibaudo. However, unlike the first race, Cousin, was unable to hold onto her lead as Offringa burst to the front of the pack to see three different winners in the opening three races. Cousin eventually claimed second place with Andres in third, before carnage unfolded behind them, which saw a pile up at mark three – allowing Lena Erdil to leapfrog into fourth place – having been sixth, whilst Ghibaudo had to settle for tenth – handing her Turkish rival the upper hand in the battle for second and third in the overall rankings.
Elimination Four – Winners’ Final
Delphine Cousin continued her fine form in the final race of the day as she led from start to finish to cap a brilliant day. Meanwhile, Valerie Ghibaudo, brought herself back into contention with a second place, allowing her to drop the tenth place from race three, whilst Maria Andres enjoyed another good race as she claimed back-to-back third places. At the third mark Sarah Hauser held third place, but unfortunately dropped her gybe, meaning Sarah-Quita Offringa and Lena Erdil rose into fourth and fifth place respectively.
How Things Currently Stand
Cyril Moussilmani still leads the way in the battle for the 2014 PWA Men’s Slalom World Championship after recording a second, third and fourth place today, which edges the Frenchman ever closer to a maiden world title. Moussilmani has given himself a bit of room to play with – with Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) currently sitting in fourth place and AA currently trails Moussilmani by 8.7 points – however that could all change. After the fourth race tomorrow a discard will come into play giving Albeau the opportunity to drop a ninth place from race three. Plus with a solid looking forecast – which should enable at least two races a day to be completed – there is still plenty of racing to be had and plenty of time for things to change.
With Moussilmani and Albeau both in the top five at the moment, that mean’s Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) is currently out of the running for this year’s title.
Delphine Cousin sits comfortably at the top of the rankings after the first day of racing here in Noumea, which has seen her take a substantial step towards claiming back-to-back world titles. The twenty-three year old only needs to finish in the top four to secure the title and based on today’s performance it looks almost certain that she will do just that – having won two of the four races completed today.
Lena Erdil currently holds the advantage for second place in the overall rankings as the Turk sits second in the event rankings. However, only 0.3 of a point separates her from Valerie Ghibaudo, so there is still all to play for in the battle for second and third.
Tomorrow’s forecast should provide almost identical conditions to today, so there should be another action packed day in Noumea. The skippers’ meeting shall once again be held at 10am – with the action commencing from 10:30am. Don’t miss any of the action by tuning into www.pwaworldtour.com – here you’ll be able to follow the event as it happens via the PWA live stream and live ticker.
Text: Chris Yates / PWA