Time flies and the final event of the 2019 PWA World Tour is already upon us. The season finale sees the elite of the racing world in action on last time and the Bureau Vallée Dream Cup, which runs between 18th-23rd November, will ultimately decide this year’s Men’s and Women’s PWA Slalom World Titles.
Tight world class racing from 2017
Noumea, New Caledonia, is part of the French Polynesia, located deep in the southwest Pacific Ocean - 750 miles east of Australia. New Caledonia boasts the largest lagoon in the world and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, making New Caledonia a magnet for recreational boaters and ocean lovers alike, and provides perfect, yet at times challenging slalom conditions thanks to its trade winds, which usually blow anywhere between 10 and 30 knots. The lagoon spans an impressive 44,000km — with crystal clear waters dotted with islets, which has seen Noumea becoming renowned for its outstanding marine biodiversity. This year there has been a slight location change with the event moving from Anse Vata beach to Côte Blanche, which is about 2.5km southeast of Anse Vata.
Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) is in a commanding position heading into the season finale as a top 3 finish would guarantee her a 4th Slalom World Championship. On paper that would look like somewhat of a formality as the last time, Cousin Questel finished outside the top 3 was in May 2017.
However, the reigning world champion is currently recovering from a foot injury that she suffered whilst wave sailing and that does plant a seed of possible doubt. In a recent interview, Cousin Questel sounded as though she is well on the road to recovery, but the first day of racing will be the first real test, whilst giving a true indication on her current level of fitness.
Delphine Cousin Questel
In With A Chance
Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone) enters New Caledonia as the only woman who can possibly stop Cousin Questel from claiming a 4th world title, but she only has a faint hope of achieving that. Although a faint hope is better than no hope and with Cousin Questel’s injury possibly niggling in the back of her mind you can never say never. In order for Mortefon to have a chance of winning the title Cousin Questel would have to finish 4th or worse and Mortefon would have to win the event. Finishing second would see the two women tied on 30,500 points, but Cousin Questel would win the world title on countback.
With fate out of Mortefon’s own hands she will have to rely on the help of some of her competitors - namely Maëlle Guilbaud (Patrik / Loftsails) and Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins) who will be battling it for the final place on the prestigious overall podium and a result both women will be pushing for a top result here, which could potentially put a kink in the hopes of Cousin Questel.
The Race For Third
In the event that there are over 4 eliminations:
- If Erdil was to win the event she would be guaranteed the final place on the podium even if Guilbaud was to finish second. In that scenario, both women would finish on 30,100 points - but Erdil would win on countback.
- If Erdil was to finish second - and Guilbaud was to finish 3rd or worse - Erdil would take 3rd overall etc.
- If Erdil was to finish 3rd - and Guilbaud would finish 4th or worse - Erdil would finish 3rd overall etc.
In the event that under 4 eliminations were to be completed
- A top 3 finish for Erdil and Guilbaud finishing 4th or worse would see Erdil complete the overall podium.
- Put simply Erdil must finish at least one place ahead of Guilbaud, in both of the above scenarios, in order to snatch the final place on the podium away from Guilbaud.
Meanwhile, the homegrown talents of Lilou Granier (Starboard / Phantom Sails) and Océane Lescadieu (S2Maui) will hope to have an impact at their home event.
Elsewhere, Finland’s Marianne Rautelin (Patrik / Loftsails) and Turkey’s Nimet Tulumen (Tabou / GA Sails) could also feature as could the Japanese contingent of Mio Anayama (Starboard / S2Maui), Ayako Suzuki (Tabou / GA Sails) and Miki Yamabe.
In the men’s, it looks like it will be a straight fight for the title between current world tour leader - Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne) and Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins), who are tied on 30,400 points after the opening 4 events.
Iachino is aiming to add to his sole world title from 2016, while Mortefon is bidding to win his first world crown. Assuming that both men finish in the top 5 then whoever beats who will be crowned the 2019 Men’s PWA Slalom World Champion.
However, if both Iachino and Mortefon were to finish 6th or worse, then that would open the door for reigning world champion - Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) - to swoop in and complete a hat-trick of world titles and a 26th overall, but only if he were to win the event… all three sailors would then finish tied on 40,300 points, but Albeau would win on countback as he would’ve beaten Iachino/Mortefon in 3 out of the 5 events.
Other scenarios where Albeau could win would be:
- If Iachino/Mortefon were to finish 7th then a second place would be good enough for Albeau to win.
If Iachino/Mortefon were to finish 8th then a third place would be good enough for Albeau to win etc.
- The last time the event took place here in 2017 the big top 3 completed the podium and you wouldn’t bet against that happening again by the end of the week - particularly the more races that are completed. Between them, they have won every event this season, so it would look like a tall order to stop one of them from claiming the top place on the podium again. In the previous 3 editions, Albeau and Mortefon have recorded one victory each, while Ben van der Steen (Goya Windsurfing / GUNSAILS), who is not here this time around, was the other sailor to register victory here in 2014.
Away from the title race, you can expect to see plenty of exciting racing as those sailors currently in the overall top 10 look to defend their positions. Julien Quentel (Patrik / GUNSAILS) enters the event in 4th place, but only 200 points ahead of Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone), while behind them there is a further break of 700 points to Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails) in 6th, followed by Antoine Questel (I-99 / S2Maui), Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins), Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde) and Maciek Rutkowski (FMX Racing / Challenger Sails), who is looking to finish in the overall top 10 for the first time in his career.
While there will also be a plethora of local New Caledonian’s hoping to make their make at their home event - particularly the newly crowned Foil World Champion - Nicolas Goyard (Tabou / GA Sails) and Basile Jacquin (I-99 / Point-7).
Basile Jacquin gybes with Sebastian Kördel
Other sailors to keep an eye out for include Marco Lang (Fanatic / Duotone) who comes into the final event of the season off the back of a 5th place in Denmark and firmly in the hunt for the top 10 - Croatia’s Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde), Aruba’s Ethan Westera (Tabou / GA Sails) as well as Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails) and Sebastian Kordel (Starboard / GA Sails).
The opening day of the 2019 Bureau Vallée Dream Cup looks as though it may start with light winds with southerly winds currently being forecast. However, the forecast looks very promising for a little bit later in the week and there should be plenty of racing ahead. You’ll be able to follow all of the racing as it happens via the PWA live stream by tuning into www.pwaworldtour.com between the 18th-23rd November.
Forecast for the event
Schedule For Day 1 (All Times GMT+11)
- Registration: 10-11am
- Skippers’ Meeting: 13:00
- First Possible Start: 13:30
To stay up to date with all the latest developments from New Caledonia — including the live stream, elimination ladders, entry list, images and live ticker simply click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page.