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The 2008 Pegasus Airlines Alaçati PWA World Cup – Day Three
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 third day of competition started out with the completion of race four, which had been whittled down to the finals on the previous day. First to hit the race course was the men’s losers final, which got off to a nervous start after Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North), local Bora Kozanoglu (Starboard) and Patrick Diethelm (F2, North) all false started.
Taking the reins of the under strength heat, Gabriel Browne (Mistral, MauiSails) led from the start to take a decisive victory ahead of Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet, NeilPryde) in second.
Moving onto to the final, and disaster struck for Antoine Albeau (Starboard, NeilPryde) on the first reach “I went too downwind towards Finian at the gybe, and my clew hit his mast causing me to fall in”. The mistake left Albeau 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, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (T1, North) dialed into the conditions, opening up a massive lead before finishing the race a solid half reach ahead of his nearest rival, Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra) in second. Filling out the remaining podium position was Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine, MFC), who managed to hold off a sustained attack from Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde), who had to settle for fourth.
In the women’s losers final of race four, Lee Korzitz (Tabou, Gaastra) struggled to match her form from previous events, despite finding herself at the front of the fleet. She stood her ground to take the win, and eleventh overall for the race, with Australian Annika Gillgren (Severne) crossing the finish line behind her in second, and twelfth for the race.
In the winners final, Valerie Ghibaudo (Tabou, The Loft) had her foot firmly on the throttle as she negotiated the four buoy downwind course. 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.
After a fifteen-minute break, the men’s fleet hit the race course for the start of the fifth, and most surprising race of the event so far. The first shock came early on, when event leader Pritchard failed to advance from his quarterfinal. The implications of the blunder means Pritchard drops from the event lead, and the result may well come back to haunt him as the event progresses.
Not helping his cause, Diaz also stuttered in his quarter final, finishing in seventh position. Resultantly he made a premature exit from the elimination.
Moving on to the semi finals, the next upset came when top ranked racer Williams finished in a disappointing eighth position, leaving him to make up for the mistake in the losers final. In the second semifinal, Finian Maynard (RRD, NeilPryde) narrowly missed out on a place in the final after being edged out of contention by Dennis Littel (F2, MauiSails), who claimed the last remaining qualifying position.
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), Peter Volwater (F2, North) and Costa Hoevel.
The ensuing rerun of the race gave spectators the rare sight of a three-man heat, comprising of Dunkerbeck, Albeau and Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet, Simmer). The bout started out fairly evenly, but after the second mark it was Dunkerbeck and Albeau who’d taken the reigns of the heat. 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.
In the losers final, Williams extended his run of poor form when he false started, as did Julien Quentel (Starboard, NeilPryde). The pair were disqualified, leaving Arnon Dagan (Fanatic, Gaastra) to take charge of the rerun and claim eleventh place for the race.
The women’s fifth race followed a more predictable path, with all the big names advancing from the semi finals without upset. Taking their seats in the race final, Ghibaudo showed she was keen to replicate her performance from the previous race.
One reach was all she needed before there was a gap between her and the chasing pack. Familiarly, it was Karin Jaggi (F2, North) 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 Poland’s Marta Hlavaty (MauiSails) finished in third.
In the women’s losers final, Gillgren battled her way to the front of the fleet to take victory ahead of Korzitz in second.
The day also made inroads to the sixth men’s and Women’s race. The situation in the men’s fleet has grown evermore interesting after Dunkerbeck, Pritchard and Williams failed to qualify for the final, leaving the door open for Albeau to reclaim his position at the top of the event standings.