After the opening event of the season in Japan the world’s best slalom sailors have made the short flight over to South Korea for the Ulsan PWA World Cup, which will host the second leg of the 2018 PWA Slalom World Tour, as well as the second stop of the foiling, at Jinha Beach between 19th-24th May.
Event Headquarters - Jinha Beach, Ulsan
Last year only saw one elimination completed in the women’s division with no result being gained in the men’s fleet, but that shouldn’t be the case this time around with a windy looking forecast for the opening two days of the event - 20-28 knots from the northeast.
Forecast for the opening two days - Jinha Beach
Situated in the southeast of South Korea, Jinha beach is a thirty-minute drive from Ulsan and has developed the reputation of being the top windsurfing location in the country. With a rich eastern culture, amazing white sand beaches and reliable trade winds, it is easy to see why windsurfers all over South Korea hold this spot in such high esteem. Jinha Beach isn’t always the easiest place to compete with the sometimes gusty nature of the wind and seaweed wreaking havoc, but that’s just another part of the test in this demanding destination.
Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) holds the lead at the top of the world rankings after winning the opening event in Japan and she will enter South Korea as the favourite. However, the former two-time world champion will be hoping to avoid a repeat of last years result here when she finished 11th after a snapped outhaul in the semifinals cost her dearly.
Delphine Cousin Questel
Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins) had every chance of winning the opening event of the year and she’ll be hoping to keep Cousin Questel under pressure here in South Korea. The Turk has excellent form figures here which read 2nd, 1st, 2nd over the last three seasons and she’ll be hoping continue that fine run to keep herself in title race contention.
Marion Mortefon’s (Fanatic / NorthSails) first of 3 podiums last year came here in South Korea and she started 2018 in excellent form by finishing 3rd in Japan, which means the 26-year-old has now completed the podium in each of her last 3 events and will no doubt be challenging for the top 3 and possibly beyond over the next 6 days.
Meanwhile, Lilou Granier (Starboard / Severne), who looks an exciting prospect after her 4th place in Japan, will be absent from proceedings here due to the 17-year-old having exam commitments in New Caledonia. That will open the door for 22-year-old Fulya Ünlü (Starboard / Point-7) who claimed 5th in Japan, while Maëlle Guilbaud (Patrik / Loftsails) - 5th overall in 2017 - Esther de Geus (Fanatic / NorthSails) - 6th overall last year will be trying to force their way into the top 5 here.
Elsewhere keep an eye out for Océane Lescadieu (NeilPryde), Jenna Gibson (Fanatic / NorthSails) and Yuki Sunaga (Loftsails) - all of whom earned top 10 places in Japan and will be looking to do even better here.
The unpredictable nature of South Korea is highlighted by the fact that since 2011 there have been 5 different winners. Add to this that in 2014 the event had to be cancelled due to the South Korean ferry tragedy and that last year, a result was not gained, and it shows that anyone has a chance of winning here, which adds a certain level of excitement.
However, despite the unpredictable nature here in recent years it’s hard to look past the current top 3 - Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde), Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses) and Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins), who have won 15 of the last 17 events (88.24%) between them since 2015. During that time Albeau has won 7 events, Iachino 5 events and Mortefon 3 events.
Antoine Albeau with plenty of company in 2017
The only people to have denied them the top place on the podium in recent years are Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti) and Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails) - both last season - and both men will now be looking to bounce back from quarterfinal exits in Japan.
Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) kicked off the season by equalling his best result ever on the world tour - 4th place in Japan and he’ll look to now build upon an excellent start to 2018 as he looks to break into the overall top 10 for the first time in his career come the end of the season.
Tristan Algret on the fly
Elsewhere, Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails / Chopper Fins), Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde), Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Shamal Sunglasses), Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / NorthSails), Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails) and Maciek Rutkowski (I-99 / Challenger Sails) all earned top 10 finishes to start the year and should be in the mix again over the next 6 days.
Meanwhile, you can expect to see Antoine Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) try to bounce back from a 25th place in Japan. The Frenchman only recorded one result outside the top 12 in 2017, while Bonaire’s Taty Frans (Starboard / GA Sails / Shamal Sunglasses) will continue his comeback after a disappointing 33rd place in Japan. Other big names looking to recover will be Frenchmen Cyril Moussilmani (RRD / Severne) and Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) - 21st and 33rd in Japan - Croatia’s Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde), who finished 17th overall in 2017, but started the year with a 45th place. However, with only one race completed none of them will be panicking yet with more racing to come here hopefully.
At the moment there are 40 men registered for the second stop of the foiling. Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) dominated the opening event to hold counting results of two 1sts and a second from the 4 races completed and he’ll be the man that everyone else has to beat here.
Gonzalo Costa Hoevel
Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) will also be a major player. The 24-time world champion won the opening race in Japan, before falling when prominently placed in the next race and couldn’t catch Costa Hoevel from that point onwards.
Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails) came from out of nowhere on the final day in Japan to capture the last place on the podium at the expense of Julien Bontemps (JP / NeilPryde) - but the former Olympic vice-champion looks as though he’ll be a serious threat over the duration of the season despite just missing out on the podium last time out.
With foiling still being such a new and developing discipline there is the potential to win one race and then finish outside of the top 10 in the next, which makes it exciting to watch as you can’t quite predict what will happen yet. However, other names that should in contention include Maciek Rutkowski - who won the final elimination in Japan, which was his first race victory on tour, Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / GA Sails / Chopper Fins), Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde), Antoine Questel, who won the foil exhibition last year and keep an eye out for Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne), who finished 3rd in the 3rd elimination in Japan. Meanwhile, Sebastian Kornum (JP / NeilPryde) will be hoping to produce an improved display here after a disappointing 12th to start the season.
Maciek Rutkowski leads the way
With a promising looking forecast for the opening two days, the 2018 Ulsan PWA World Cup will hopefully begin with a bang. You can stay up to date with all the latest developments 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.
Schedule for Day 1:
- Registration - 9am-11am (GMT+9)
- Skippers’ Meeting - 1:30pm (GMT+9)
- First Possible Start - 2:30pm (GMT+9)