Japan set to decide the 2022 Slalom World Titles as World’s best racers head for Yokosuka
The elite of the racing world are currently descending upon Yokosuka, Japan, in preparation for the Fly! ANA Yokosuka, Miura Windsurf World Cup, which takes place between 11th-15th November. Over the next 5 days the Men’s and Women’s Slalom World titles will be decided, so it promises to be an enthralling event.
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.
Mount Fuji provides a majestic backdrop
There is a strong lineup for the first 5-star Women’s Slalom event where Foil and Fin will officially merger. In total 31 of the best female racers are currently registered to compete in Japan where the world title will be decided in an exciting winner takes all battle.
Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / LOKEFOIL) will enter the event as the defending Foil World Champion, whilst Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) enters the fray as the Slalom World Champion, and it’ll be interesting to see how the merge goes.
Mortefon and Offringa will be up there as two of the favourites, but there are a whole host of other women waiting in the wings to take their shot at the title. Sara Wennekes (Future Fly / Severne Sails) was hugely impressive in Croatia as the 26-year-old dominated a strong fleet by claiming 5 bullets out of a possible 8 and if she sails anywhere near those levels again then she’s an obvious threat to come out on top.
Other likely contenders include Helle Oppedal (Starboard / Severne Sails), who finished as the Foil Vice-World Champion in 2021, whilst she just pipped Blanca Alabau (Starboard / Severne Sails) to the final place on the podium in Croatia and both girls will be in the hunt for the top places again over the next 5 days.
Of course with 4 Slalom and 1 Foil world title - Delphine Cousin Questel (FMX Racing / S2Maui) - can never be ruled out and the 31-year-old will be hoping to mount a strong challenge in Japan.
The British trio of Jenna Gibson (Fanatic / Duotone), Sarah Jackson (Fanatic / Duotone) and Alice Read (Fanatic / Duotone) will also be hoping to throw there names into the mix, whilst a strong contingent of Japanese women - led by Mio Anayama (FMX Racing / S2Maui), Fujiko Onishi (Future Fly / Point-7 / Chopper Fins), Ayako Suzuki (Tabou / GA Sails) and Yuki Sunaga (Loftsails) - will be hoping to use home waters to their advantage.
Having snatched a dramatic late victory from the claws of Maciek Rutkowski (I-99 / Challenger Sails), Amado Vrieswijk (Future Fly / Severne Sails) enters the world title race in pole position, but with just the two events this year he has no room for error if he is to clinch a maiden Slalom world title. The Bonairean alluded that he thought he could challenge for a podium in Sylt and he more than delivered on those words with a super victory. Vrieswijk suffered a deep cut to his toe at the recent IQ World’s, but assuming he isn’t too badly hampered by that injury, he’ll be vying for the podium.
To lose the event in the manner that he did in Sylt will have been a hurtful blow for Rutkowski, but there were more positives than negatives to take away from Germany and he finds himself thoroughly in contention for a maiden world title in Japan. The Pole qualified for 80% of Winners’ Finals in Germany and a similar performance here would give him a great chance.
The racing in Germany was unbelievably close with just 9.3 points separating first to fourth, whilst just 3.7 points separated 5th to 7th, so any slip ups are likely to be severely punished, whilst bullets are becoming even more valuable to give yourself a little extra breathing room.
Former world champions - Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne Sails) and Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins / Phantom Foils) - are both prominently placed to attack the top too having first 3rd and 4th respectively in Sylt and you can expect them to be in the thick of the action, whilst things didn’t go the way of defending world champion - Nicolas Goyard (Phantom / Phantom Sails / Phantom Foils) - he too can never be ruled out from challenging for the top, but from 9th place a title defence looks unlikely.
Some of the biggest news ahead of the event is that Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) will bring down the curtain on a glittering PWA career, which has spanned 3 decades and yielded an incredible 25 world titles. Albeau has written himself into the windsurfing history books and he will now try and sign off an outstanding career in style.
Mateus Isaac (Severne / Severne Sails) was Mr. Consistent in Germany with the Brazilian not finishing outside of the top 11 in the 10 eliminations completed, whilst he qualified for 60% of the Winners’ Finals to put himself firmly in contention for a place on the overall podium. However, if he’s to aim for the title he may need to find a way to eke out a little bit more performance and convert some of those Winners’ Finals into bullets and second places.
Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde) finished 6th overall in Germany after signing off the event in style by claiming back-to-back bullets and if the Croat can hit the water flying in Japan then there’s a genuine contender for the event title, but for a shot at the world title he would need results to fall his way.
At just 18-years-old, Johan Soe (FMX Racing / Point-7) produced one of the standout performances of the event in Sylt, which included his maiden bullet on the world tour, and the highly talented young Dane will be hoping to be challenging for the top 10 and beyond again.
Like Soe, Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / Severne Sails), notched up his first bullet on the world tour in Germany to claim 8th place and the German is more than capable of challenging for the podium positions here. The strength in depth in the Slalom field is phenomenal at the moment, so in any given elimination the top ≈25 guys are all capable of qualifying for the top 8.
Other names that are likely to be challenging for the top 10 and beyond include, but not limited to; Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone), who completed the top 10 in Germany, Rytis Jasiunas (Future Fly / Point-7), Nico Prien (Starboard / NeilPryde), fellow Frenchmen - Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Phantom Sails / Phantom Foils / Chopper Fins), William Huppert (Fanatic / Duotone / Phantom Foils), Cedric Bordes (Tabou / Severne Sails), Julien Bontemps (JP / NeilPryde), Antoine Questel (FMX Racing / S2Maui) and Basile Jacquin (FMX Racing / Point-7), whilst if things click into place Bruno Martini (JP / NeilPryde), who won in Croatia, should be there or there abouts.
Just as in the women’s fleet, there are a whole host of local sailors who will be hoping to make their mark on the event.
The forecast currently looks as though we will see a range of conditions with the opening day currently promising moderate northeasterly winds, whilst by Sunday, winds in excess of 30 knots are predicted, so it looks as though the world’s best racers will face a true test of their abilities.
Forecast for the first few days
Make sure you tune into www.pwaworldtour.com over the next 5 days to see how the world titles battles turn out as you’ll be able to follow the action as it happens via the PWA live stream with Ben Proffitt to guide you through all the racing.
You can stay up to date with all the latest developments from Japan— including live stream, elimination ladders, entry list, images and live ticker simply by clicking HERE and scrolling to the bottom of the page.
Also if you don’t already, follow us on our Social Media Channels:
- Facebook: @PWAWorldTourWindsurfing
- Instagram: @pwaworldtour
- Twitter: @pwaworldtour
Schedule For Day 1: (All Times GMT+9)
- Registration: 10:00-11:30am