The world’s best racers have made their annual voyage to Asia as they prepare for the 3rd edition of the Fly! ANA Yokosuka PWA World Cup, which takes place between 10th-15th May. Tsukuihama Beach will host the second stop on the PWA Slalom World Tour for both the Men’s and Women’s fleets, while also racing the curtain on the Foil World Tour for 2019.
Tsukuihama Beach, Yokosuka City, is situated approximately 80km southwest of Japan’s capital Tokyo. Yokosuka blends city life with the sea, while also being a Naval Port. Yokosuka occupies most of the Miura Peninsula and is bordered by the mouth of Tokyo Bay to the east and Sagami Bay on the west, which provides a beautiful backdrop. As Tsukuihama Beach is almost completely protected it can provide great flat water racing conditions. As well as its maritime connections Yokosuka is also famous for it’s locally grown produce and there is even a tourist farm where you can pick your own strawberries, sweet potatoes or tangerines depending on the time of year.
Event HQ from above
Reigning world champion and current world tour leader - Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) - will start the second event of the year as the clear favourite. The 3-time world champion made the perfect start in France and is now on a winning run that stretches back to November 2017 and she may prove difficult to stop again.
Delphine Cousin Questel leading the way
Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone) made a solid start in France by claiming second place ahead of Oda Brødholt (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) could well be Cousin Questel’s biggest threat again, however, the likes of Maëlle Guilbaud (Patrik / Loftsails) and Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins) are also more than capable of challenging for top honours. Erdil, in particular, may offer more of a threat here than in France with a couple of additional weeks training under her belt as she continues her come back from injury.
Marion Mortefon gybes
In With a Chance
Elsewhere, the likes of Esther de Geus (Fanatic / Duotone), Lilou Granier (Starboard / Phantom Sails) could be in contention, while an army of local girls will be hoping to make their mark on home waters with the most likely players being Ayako Suzuki (Tabou / GA Sails) and Mio Anayama (Starboard / S2Maui).
Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins) comes into Japan with the current world tour lead after pipping Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) to victory in France. That victory means that Mortefon has now won back-to-back events for the first time in his career and the 29-year-old will look to maintain that early season momentum as he searches for a maiden world title.
Having changed board sponsor late last winter, any questions about whether Albeau’s board speed would be competitive have been firmly answered in France. AA led the final and showed excellent speed throughout and he’ll once again be in the thick of the action as he eyes world title No.26. Albeau is also the defending event champion.
Antoine Albeau cranks a gybe
Current vice-world champion - Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses) - will look to bounce back from a disappointing result in France, but with just one race completed in Marignane there’s no reason to panic and you can expect to see a strong showing from the Italian here.
Matteo Iachino on the fly
Some people may have tried to write Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails) off after a disappointing 2018 Slalom campaign, but the German clearly never lost faith in his own ability. Kördel bounced back immediately in France by earning his second ever slalom podium - 3rd - and he will now look to build upon a great start to the season.
Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone) came into 2019 off the back of his best overall result to date - 4th - and the flying Dutchman showed in France that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with again for the coming season after starting the season with a solid 4th place.
Finian Maynard (FMX Racing) made a bright start in France as he qualified for the final where he finished 5th and he too could be in the running again here in Japan.
Last year’s world No.5 - Julien Quentel (Patrik / Gun Sails) - also made a decent start to the season with a 6th place and the man from Saint Maarten will have fond memories from Japan having won the event here in 2017.
The top 10 coming into Japan is currently completed by Bruno Martini (I-99 / Challenger Sails), Malte Reuscher (Tabou / GA Sails), Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde) and Marco Lang (Fanatic / Duotone), who will be happy to be back to seemingly full fitness after being hampered by a mystery virus last year.
Elsewhere, Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Shamal Sunglasses), Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails / Chopper Fins), Cyril Moussilmani (RRD / RRD Sails) and Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) will all look to bounce back from missing out on the top 10 in the opening event of the year.
Other names to look out for include the aspiring young talents of Ethan Westera (Tabou / GA Sails), Basile Jacquin (I-99 Point-7), Nicolas Goyard (Tabou / GA Sails) and Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne) - who finished 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th respectively.
The 2019 Fly! ANA Yokosuka World Cup will also go down in history as it will be the first event to host Women’s Foiling. It is going to be very interesting to see who stands out as the top sailor in Foiling as with no previous world cup events there is little to go on. You would expect to see the usual suspects - Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui / Starboard Foils), Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / LOKEFOIL) and Lena Erdil, but it will be interesting to see if that’s how it pans out!
As the reigning world champion - Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Severne / Starboard Foils) - will probably start the event as the narrow favourite, however, there would not be much between himself, Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails / Starboard Foils), who finished the season level on points - 30,300 points.
Gonzalo Costa Hoevel
On paper next in line would be Antoine Albeau and Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Phantom Sails / LOKEFOIL), who finished 3rd and 4th last year - but also tied on 30,100 points.
As last season showed though Foiling is currently incredibly difficult to predict with there being 4 separate winners from the 4 events completed in 2018 - world champion Costa Hoevel won here last year, while Brazilian Mateus Isaac won in South Korea, Amado Vrieswijk in Costa Brava and finally Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses / Starboard Foils) claimed a decisive victory in Sylt to finish the year and as previous event winners’ they are also heavily in contention.
With another winter of development under their foil wings, it will be interesting to see who gains the early advantage in this year’s title race.
Foiling in front of the iconic Mount Fuji
The forecast currently looks quite light for the opening few days of the event meaning that the Foiling may take centre stage, while later it the week there is the promise of stronger winds for the slalom. Make sure you stay tuned into www.pwaworldtour.combetween the 10th-15th May.
To stay up to date with all the latest developments from Japan — 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 Opening Day (All Times GMT+8)
Skippers’ Meeting - 1:30pm
First Possible Start - 2:30pm