The 2008 Alaçati PWA World Cup – Event Summary
The picturesque Turkish town of Alaçati delivers six days of non-stop wind to crown two World Champions, and witness a spectacular battle for the men’s event title in the final decisive race of the competition.
For the third successive year, the PWA returned to the shores of Alaçati, Turkey for the Pegasus Airlines World Cup. Before the event had even started its name had been etching into the history books, after the biggest fleet in almost decade signed up for the ensuing six-day showdown. The event marked the final stop on the women’s slalom tour, and would subsequently crown the 2008 Women’s Slalom World Champion.
In the men’s fleet, the event was the penultimate slalom fixture in the 2008 calendar, having already completed four previous competitions. Dominating the season, Frenchman Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde) had a firm grip on first position having won every event thus far.
Aiming to claim the World Title before the season finale in Sylt, Albeau would have to pull all the stops out one last time to seal the deal. Lower down the ranks, the remaining podium positions were wide open for the taking, with Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1, North), Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine, MFC), Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra) and Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde) all in the running.
Christening the event, competition’s first day let the sailors get dialed into conditions with a single race added to the tally. Looking hungry to kick start his campaign with a solid result, Maynard showed a welcome return to form when he breezed to victory in the first semi final, and proceeded to take third overall for race one.
Stating his intentions from the outset, Albeau sailed a perfect race to win every single heat on the way to the final, before claiming victory and the early event lead. Always consistent, Pritchard settled into his familiar second position, and Maynard looked like he was warming up for bigger and better things in third.
In the women’s fleet, Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou, The Loft) and Karin Jaggi (F2, North) took the reigns of their first race. In this instance it was Ghibaudo that took top honors, leaving Jaggi simmering in second and Verena Fauster (F2, Gaastra) in third as the sun set on day one.
16-18 knot wind greeted competitors for the start of race two on competition’s second day. Showing his thirst for victory, Dunkerbeck made light work of the 4 buoy down wind course to win his semi final, with rival Albeau mimicking his performance in the second semi final. The pair both advanced to the final where they’d go head to head.
The resulting final saw Dunkerbeck, Albeau and Pritchard spearhead a three-man breakaway that lead the ten strong heat. The final reach produced a classic drag race to the line, with Dunkerbeck edging the victory, leaving Pritchard in second and Albeau close by in third. Fronting the chasing pack, Williams kept himself in contention to take fourth.
Moving directly into race three, the crowds were dumbstruck when they heard that seven of the ten-man heat had false started. Amongst the perpetrators were Albeau, Maynard, Peter Volwater (F2, North) and Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet, Simmer). The mass disqualification left Pritchard, Matt Wemms (Fanatic, North) and Jesper Orth (Starboard, Severne) free to advance without even having to sail the heat.
The race final saw local Bora Kozanoglu (Starboard) steal the show. Sniffing his first ever race win, and backed by the ecstatic local crowd, the Turkish racer summoned an almighty performance to fend off Dunkerbeck and defy all the doubters. Rapturous applause congratulated the local hero as he claimed the race as his, leaving Dunkerbeck to settle for second, Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet, NeilPryde) in third and Pritchard fourth.
In the women’s second race, Jaggi seemed the most determined out of the ten finalists. After a spirited performance she sat untouched at the front of the fleet, leaving Marta Hlavaty (MauiSails) and Lee Korzitz (Tabou, Gaastra) to fight it out for second. On the finish line, Jaggi won by a clear margin, and Hlavaty sneaked ahead of Korzitz to take second.
The third and final race of the day saw Ghibaudo return to dominance after victory in her semi final. In the ensuing final she laid waste to Jaggi’s advances to add another victory to her name. Jaggi had to make do with second place and Armenia’s Sarah Hébert (Starboard, Naish) mopped up the remaining podium place in third.
Day three started badly for Albeau who crashed into Maynard in the race four final. The mistake left him languishing at the back of the pack, and despite an effort to climb back up the ranks, he crossed the finish line in tenth position.
At the front of the pack, Dunkerbeck dialed into the conditions, opening up a massive lead before finishing the race a solid half reach ahead of his nearest rival, Williams, in second. Filling out the remaining podium position was Pritchard, who managed to hold off a sustained attack from Maynard, who had to settle for fourth.
Entering race five, disaster struck for Pritchard when he failed to qualify from his quarterfinal. Similarly, Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North) also stuttered in his quarterfinal after finishing in seventh position, forcing him to make a premature exit from the elimination.
Saving the biggest upset until last, the winners’ final witnessed a spectacular error when seven of the ten finalists were disqualified following a mass false start. Included in the mix up were Pieter Bijl (Fanatic, NeilPryde), Volwater and Costa Hoevel.
The rerun of the race gave spectators the rare site of a three-man heat, comprising of Dunkerbeck, Albeau and Van Der Steen. The bout started out fairly evenly, but after the second mark it was Dunkerbeck and Albeau who’d taken the lead. A final blast to the finish saw Albeau hold on to his lead, leaving Dunkerbeck close behind in second, and Van Der Steen in third.
The women’s first race of the day, race four, was dominated by slick sailing from Ghibaudo, who had her foot firmly on the throttle. On the finish line she was rewarded with the victory almost an entire reach ahead of the chasing pack. Padding out the all-French podium was Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North) in second, and fifteen year old Morane Demont (Starboard, Severne) in third.
Following a short break, Ghibaudo showed she needed little more than a single reach before she dominated the fifth women’s race. Familiarly, it was Jaggi who fronted the assault on Ghibaudo, but the domineering French racer showed her mettle, extending her lead all the way to the finish line. Jaggi was left to take second, and Hlavaty finished in third to wrap up another successful day of competition in Alaçati.
Starting the day with victory in race six, Albeau sent event leader at that time, Dunkerbeck, a clear message of his intentions. Dunkerbeck could only reply with second position in the losers final after failing to qualify for the final.
Moving onto race seven, Van Der Steen didn’t help his cause with a premature start in his quarterfinal heat. He was joined by fellow false starters Julien Quentel (Starboard, NeilPryde) and Alberto Menegatti (Starboard).
In the semi finals, local Kozanoglu gave the crowd something to cheer about when he beat Pritchard to the finish line to take victory. The pair took their places in the race final alongside the likes of Maynard and Albeau who came first and second respectively in the second semi final.
The race final saw Dunkerbeck reply to Albeau’s previous race win with a victory of his own, far ahead of Albeau and Williams who were battling it out for second. Solid racing from Williams saw him hold off the reigning World Champion to be rewarded with second place, leaving Albeau to take third.
In women’s race six, Ghibaudo made an uncharacteristic error when she fell gybing, leaving the door wide open for Jaggi to take the victory, accompanied by Fauster in second and Hlavaty in third. Ghibaudo’s mistake proved to be costly, as she ended up finishing last.
Entering race seven, Ghibaudo showed that her mishap in the previous race was only a flash in the pan, when she sailed to a convincing victory ahead of her long time rival Jaggi. Local, Lena Erdil (The Loft), sailed her best heat yet to post an impressive third place finish.
Piling on the pressure, a third race was added to the tally to take the total to eight. When crunch time came, Albeau, Dunkerbeck and Williams emerged as the men to beat.
Sinking his teeth in, Albeau motored to the front of the pack and held off Dunkerbeck to bag another victory and further close the gap between him and the event leader. Not far behind, Dunkerbeck capped off another successful day in second, and Williams ended his best day yet in third.
The women’s final race of the day followed a predictable path thanks to Ghibaudo’s outstanding consistency. She claimed her sixth race win, with Jaggi looking hungry, but unable to overtake in second. Arutkin claimed the final podium position, adding to her solid run of results.
Starting with race nine, Dunkerbeck almost stumbled after a crash in his quarterfinal. An almost impossible come back was required to advance into a qualifying position. Focused and seemingly unstoppable, the multiple World Champion switched into ‘Terminator mode’ and rose to perform the impossible.
When the final rolled around, Dunkerbeck looked out of the equation when he approached the first mark in ninth position. To his advantage, his main rival Albeau fell as he rounded the outside mark, leaving Dunkerbeck free to pass and take sixth position in the race. Albeau was left to contemplate his error in ninth, while countrymen Cyril Moussilmani (Fanatic, North) seized the opportunity to post his first race win of the event.
The second of the day’s races saw Albeau return to the dominant form he’s been enjoying for the best part of the 2008 season. A first place finish bolstered his attack on the event leader, Dunkerbeck, who crossed the finish line in fourth. Continuing his day of form, Moussilmani finished up in second, ahead of Volwater in third.
In the women’s ninth race, premature starts killed the hopes of Kubat and Demont, leaving Ghibaudo free to take her familiar spot at the front of the fleet, and bag her seventh race win. Unsurprisingly, Jaggi occupied the number two spot, a testament to her outstanding consistency, while Fauster was next over the line, reinforcing her overall third position.
Hitting the water for race ten, Ghibaudo posted a conservative fourth place finish, while rival Jaggi took the opportunity to claim the race win, her third of the event so far. Keeping the Turkish flag flying high, Erdil crossed the line in second to claim her best result of the event so far, with fellow compatriot, Kubat taking third.
As the final day of competition loomed, it looked like it was going to come down to the wire as Dunkerbeck and Albeau battled it out for the event lead. In the women’s fleet, Ghibaudo had already done enough to take the event title, likewise Jaggi in second, leaving the battle for third place open for the chasing pack.
With tensions mounting on the final day of competition, the ensuing last race of the event would prove to be make or break for Dunkerbeck and Albeau who sat just 0.4 of a point apart at the top of the score sheet. For Albeau to rob Dunkerbeck of the event lead, he’d have to place in the top five, and beat Dunkerbeck in the final race. Likewise, for Dunkerbeck to take the event title, he’d have to place higher than Albeau.
The pair both qualified for the race final, meaning the event title would be decided in one last tense heat. As the green flag went up, Dunkerbeck seized the early advantage with a perfectly timed start. Off the pace, Albeau ran into problems when he caught a bag around his fin.
By the fourth mark, Dunkerbeck was half a reach ahead of the trailing pack, meaning the final straight was a mere formality en route to claiming the event title. Crossing the finish line, the multiple World Champion was greeted with wave upon wave of cheers and applause, as ecstatic fans congratulated the newly crowned event winner.
The crowd was then treated to a rare spectacle, as two of windsurfing’s most iconic figures congratulated each other on their latest achievements; Dunkerbeck the event winner, and Albeau, whose second overall for the event was enough to crown him the 2008 Slalom World Champion.
The final women’s race of the event would have little baring on the top positions, with Ghibaudo and Jaggi already cemented in positions one and two, regardless of the outcome.
Even so, there was pride at stake, and the consummate professionals launched into one last awesome battle for all to enjoy. This time round it would be Jaggi’s day, as she cruised to victory with Ghibaudo close behind in second. Much like the men’s result, Ghibaudo was crowned event winner, but Jaggi’s second overall for the event was enough to crown her the 2008 Women’s Slalom World Champion.
Our congratulations go out to the winners, and all those lucky enough to take part in this amazing event.
1st Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1, North)
2nd Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde)
3rd Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra)
4th Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde)
5th Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, MFC, Dakine)
1st Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou, The Loft)
2nd Karin Jaggi (F2, North)
3rd Verena Fauster (F2, Gaastra)
4th Lena Erdil (The Loft)
5th Sarah Hébert (Starboard, Naish)
1st Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde)
2nd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1, North)
3rd Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, MFC, Dakine)
4th Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra)
5th Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde)
1st Karin Jaggi (F2, North)
2nd Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou, The Loft)
3rd Sarah Hébert (Starboard, Naish)
4th Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North)
5th Lee Korzitz (Tabou, Gaastra)
The tour now heads over to Sylt in Germany, from the 26th of September through to the 5th of October for Super Grand Slam action.
One of the biggest slalom fleets in almost a decade hits the water for the start of the six day long Alaçati epic.
Kevin Pritchard hands the event lead to Bjorn Dunkerbeck after a shock exit in the quarterfinals of race five. Meanwhile, Valerie Ghibaudo continues to cement her position at the top of the women's rankings after a day of perfect first place finishes.
The Terminator returns on judgment day: Bjorn Dunkerbeck sails to victory in race eleven, crowning him the event winner on the final day of competition in Alaçati. In the women's fleet, Valerie Ghibaudo wrapped up the event with a second in race eleven, having already done enough to take the event title.