[FONT=trebuchet ms, helvetica, sans-serif]La Torche
After a one-year absence, it’s time for the world’s finest slalom and wave sailors to return to La Torche, France, for the 2016 La Torche PWA Grand Slam which runs between the 20th-30th October. The next nine days of competition promise to be enthralling with world titles on the line. The men’s slalom world title will be decided right here and now, while the men’s and women’s wave titles could also be decided depending on how things play out.
In 2014, La Torche saw crowds gather in their thousands to see the most radical sailors in the world revel in the world class conditions that France produced with powerful waves and nuclear winds providing the perfect stage and hopefully it can do the same this time around.
Ricardo Campello entertaining the crowds in 2014
La Point de la Torche is located in the Bigouden region of Finistère, France and now holds legendary status for watersports enthusiasts - largely due to windsurfing. During the 1980s and 90s, La Point de la Torche consistently showed the world class conditions that it is now renowned for as greats such as Robby Naish (Naish) and Robert Teriitehau (RRD / NeilPryde) shot to stardom, during the hugely successful world cup events. La Point de la Torche is found at the southern end of the wild Bay of Audierne, which receives its name due to being exposed to the brunt of Atlantic storms, which consistently hit La Point de la Torche’s shores during the European autumn and winter, bringing with it ferocious wind and waves. For most people, this may sound like a nightmare, but for windsurfers and surfers, this is the prime reason to visit.
Wind and Waves
Iballa Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) enters the penultimate wave of the season with the narrowest of leads over her sister Daida Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins). The legendary twins are currently tied on 6,234 points, but Iballa edges ahead on count-back having claimed successive victories in El Medano, Tenerife, and Sylt, Germany.
Victory in La Torche would guarantee Iballa a third consecutive world title, however, there is still all to play. World title race scenarios:
— In the event that Daida wins and Iballa finishes second here, then Iballa would require a top two finish in Maui with Daida third or worse in order to defend her world title.
— In the event that Daida was to win and Iballa finish third, then victory in Maui would still guarantee Iballa the title. In this case, Iballa and Daida would finish level on 8,334 points, but Iballa would win having beaten Daida more times this season.
In the battle for the final place on the prestigious podium, Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) currently holds a commanding lead over her closest challenger Amanda Beenen (99NoveNove / Point-7). A fifth place finish here or better for Offringa would all but secure her place in the overall top three with Beenen then requiring two, top three finishes or better to deny the Aruban gem.
Away from title race, and the battle for the overall top three, you can expect to see strong showings again from Steffi Wahl (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg), Lina Erpenstein (Patrik / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) and Caterina Stenta (RRD / RRD Sails / Maui Ultra Fins), while Alice Arutkin (Fanatic / NorthSails) will be the main hope for the home nation.
In the men’s title race, Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / NorthSails / MFC / Shamal Sunglasses) can have the title race sewn up with an event to spare, but the only way of guaranteeing himself a second world crown is by securing victory here. This would leave Fernandez on an unassailable total of 8,301 points.
Victor Fernandez flying high
However, the Spaniard isn’t just going to have things all his own way with a world title on the line as Alex Mussolini (RRD / RRD Sails), Jaeger Stone (Starboard / Severne / SWOX / Shamal Sunglasses) and Thomas Traversa (Tabou / GA Sails) are all still in the hunt for this year’s title… for now at least.
Alex Mussolini currently Fernandez's closest rival
Title Race Scenarios
If Fernandez doesn’t win in La Torche, then while not having his fate in his own hands, he could still be crowned the champion in France if he finishes:
— second and either Alex Mussolini (RRD / RRD Sails) or Jaeger Stone (Starboard / Severne / SWOX / Shamal Sunglasses) fail to win.
— third and Mussolini fails to beat Fernandez by at least one place, Stone finishes outside the top two and Thomas Traversa (Tabou / GA Sails) fails to win.
— fourth and Mussolini and Stone fail to finish third or better, while Traversa fails to finish second or better.
*Traversa ruled out of title race if Fernandez finishes at least second.
Beyond this, there are still numerous different outcomes, which will be explained as and when the title race develops.
Thomas Traversa still in with a chance
The title race contenders will also have their hands full with the likes of Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde / Mystic / SWOX), Dany Bruch (Starboard / Flight Sails / AL360 / Shamal Sunglasses), Marcilio Browne (Goya Windsurfing / MFC), Leon Jamaer, Alessio Stillrich (Fanatic / NorthSails) and Antoine Martin (JP / NeilPryde / MFC) all fighting to maintain their places in the top 10, while the Ricardo Campello (Patrik / Point-7 / MFC) will be looking to bounce back from the worst result of his career in Sylt — 17th — while also looking to try and defend his event title having won here in 2014.
The PWA Men’s Slalom World Tour will reach it’s climax here in La Torche and after five hard-fought events, only two sailors remain standing in the fight for the 2016 world title — Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7) and Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails). By the end of the event, there will be a brand new world champion with both sailors trying to achieve a maiden world crown.
Matteo Iachino (left) and Pierre Mortefon (right) set to go head-to-head
To Iachino, this scenario will feel all too familiar as the Italian entered the final event of last year holding the lead as well but seemingly cracked under the pressure in New Caledonia. However, having being faced with this position once already he should be much better equipped to write the record straight and earn his first world title. Iachino’s latest victory in Sylt has given the 26-year-old some additional breathing space with Mortefon only managing a 9th place finish in Germany.
Title Race Scenarios
— Iachino is guaranteed a minimum points total of 10,203 points for the season as he currently has a 7th place discard. This means even without sailing Mortefon requires a top 3 finish to deny the Italian as 4th (2001 points) would only bring Mortefon level on 10,203 points — the Frenchman would then miss out on count-back for the second successive season.
— In the event that Mortefon was to :
- win the event - Iachino would need to finish 4th or better to secure the title
- finish 2nd - Iachino would need to finish 5th or better to secure the title
- finish 3rd - Iachino would need to finish 6th or better to secure the title
— All other scenarios would see Iachino crowned the 2016 PWA Men’s Slalom World Champion
Aside from the title race, there is also an intriguing battle for the final place on the podium between Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Sunglasses) and Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti). The Brit currently holds the upper hand, but just 33 points — the equivalent of one place — separates them, so Quentel must finish at least two places better in order to snatch third place away from Williams.
The battle for third - Ross Williams vs Julien Quentel
After a disappointing result in Sylt, Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) will be looking to bounce back and end the 2016 season with a flourish, while Taty Frans (Starboard / GA Sails / Mystic), Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Point-7), Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne), Andrea Cucchi (Starboard / Point-7) and Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) will be looking to defend their overall top 10 places in the final slalom event of the year.
The forecast currently shows an excellent long period swell, but it looks as though the prevailing southwesterly winds will be replaced by winds from the east to northeast at this early stage. The wave fleets will be up first with them competing between the 20th-26th October, while the slalom finale will run between the 25th-29th October with the closing ceremony being held on the 30th. Make sure you tune into www.pwaworldtour.com to follow all of the action as it happens via the PWA live stream.
To stay up to date with all the latest developments from La Torche — including the live stream, elimination ladders, entry list, images and live ticker simply click %3D257%26cHash%3D130dd7c30056a7758d8bf0dd910c8b37"]HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page.