Finally some action! Today was a day to remember in Turkey, with some extremely flukey and kind of windy conditions allowing us to rip through 2 winner’s finals and a couple of heats of the 4th elimination before the wind stopped for the day around 6.30pm.
The wind would fill in around 15-18 knots, drop to 5 knots, shift 30 degrees and then repeat, meaning that most of the heats were being abandoned at the first gybe mark a lot of the time. Finally just after midday, we were able to run the men’s winner’s final of Elimination 2 which was missing some of the major players with Albeau and Dunkerbeck both out.
It was time for the Italians to shine and the Point-7 team to show why their sails are probably the fastest on the water this season. Andrea Cucchi, owner of Point-7, took a demanding lead on the first run to the mark and never looked back, winning the final (his first PWA final ever) by a decent margin ahead of Julien Quentel, Cyril Moussilmani and young gun Italian Matteo Iachino. Josh Angulo, who was in a decent position at the first turn managed to crash in to Ben Van Der Steen at the last gybe, putting them both in the water and out of contention.
Elimination 3 was run literally 10 minutes later to take advantage of the winds. The winds were still incredibly gusty with most sailors taking their biggest kit to deal with the first gybe mark being positioned completely out of the windline. I had a shocking first gybe in my heat going a little wide and not being able to plane out of the turn despite hitting the mark in 2nd. I think I finished 2nd last after that – to not plane is a liability of course!
The heats rolled on, despite numerous abandonments when the wind went fickle at the mark or good sailors were having a bad heat and couldn’t be bothered to pump! This event marks a return to the old rules of giving the race director full control over abandoning a race; rather than the Costa Brava rules of 6 sailors being off the plane for 10 seconds. With that in mind, it’s apparent that some sailors can ‘force’ an abandonment by making no attempt to pump at the marks, or trying the new “disco pumping” that was invented today in the 3rd winners final.
I can’t remember the exact number, but I’m sure it was at least 5 attempts of the winners final for Elimination 3 that was run. Three abandonments in a row at the first gybe when Finian Maynard couldn’t plane out of the first corner on his 10m and biggest RRD. When I say ‘plane’, I mean that he was not in a good position coming in to the gybe, so began the ‘disco pumping’, where you just twist the sail backwards and forwards a little bit with your back hand, instead of ACTUALLY pumping, but to the untrained eye of the race director in the boat, it kinda looks like there was no wind despite 7 other sailors easily planing out of the gybe. Races were abandoned. Sheeeeesh!
Attempt number 4 saw a very uncharacteristic mistake from Albeau; over early! Disqualified! Taking with him Finian Maynard and Peter Bijl meant that this final was going to be a showdown between the 2 fastest guys on the water – Alberto Menegatti and Cyril Moussilmani. After another abandoned attempt where Alberto took the pin start and led around the first gybe, pumped once and blasted off (seemed like plenty of wind to me!) the final attempt saw a radical, RADICAL crash at the first gybe, costing the final for both Alberto and Cyril. Knowing they were similar speeds, Cyril had a better start and sailed down on top of Alberto to squeeze him in to the mark, attempting to gybe a little early, Cyril squeezed down on Alberto so hard he actually dropped the sail on his head, both of them spinning downwind below the mark with still 30m to go before the gybe! I’m not entirely sure how either of them stayed on the board but they both had to stop and point upwind to make the turn, opening the door for Antoine Questel to take the lead and never look back, winning Elimination 3 ahead of Cyril (who made an incredible comeback to pounce on 2nd) and Alberto (who destroyed Ludovic Jossin on the last run to make 3rd).
By 5.30pm the winds were looking so horrific. Gusty 5-19 knots on the course but we were under the pump to get racing in so we continued the heats despite numerous (like, PRETTY MUCH every heat was abandoned at least once) abandonments. Heat 4 got completed, knocking Dunkerbeck and Van Der Steen out before it was called for the day and we could finally head home. Tomorrow will kick off with Heat 5 and 6 (my heat!) and the forecast is looking like we might actually get out on the course.
After today, Pierre Mortefon, who’s been incredibly fast all week here is in the lead and well deserved. Let’s find out tomorrow if he can hang on!