Catalunya PWA World Cup - Matteo Iachino rises to the top and dedicates victory to the late and great Alberto Menegatti - Arnon Dagan sets the pace in race one
This year’s Catalunya PWA World Cup proved to be a testing affair for the competitors and also one that required a lot of patience. After wind on the second day the fleet were made to wait until the final day to resume their second meeting of the season and it turned out to be an intriguing battle.
Heading into the final day Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) led the event after winning the opening elimination, but the Israeli then made a massive mistake in race two as he was disqualified from the first round for a premature start. Dagan was praying for no wind in order to hang on to what would’ve been his second event victory, and for a time it looked like the wind God’s were going to answer his prayers after an overcast start to the day.
However, as the day progressed the skies began to clear and the trademark sea breeze associated with the Gulf de Roses started to kick in. With the wind arriving competition was resumed and whilst conditions were on the marginal side it was enough to see a further two eliminations complete - three overall. This presented Matteo Iachino (Fanatic / North) with the perfect opportunity to claw himself to the top of the rankings, with the Italian beautifully poised in second place and Dagan out of the picture. To the twenty-five year olds credit he stepped up admirably when it was required to claim an emphatic victory in race two and move into the lead. Iachino then held his nerve in race four - finishing fourth - and with the wind fading the final day drew to a close and it will be a day the Italian maestro will always remember as it was the day he tasted victory on the PWA World Tour for the first time in his career. Based on his latest performance this may be the first of many victories.
Matteo Iachino reflects on maiden victory and remembers the late and great Alberto Menegatti:
“It’s an unbelievable result - I can’t believe it. The racing itself was tough with the gusty conditions making timing the start difficult. In the final I took advantage of a small gybing mistake by Malte Reuscher and from there I managed to hold onto the lead. Afterwards a new race was announced and my stress levels were super high. I went for it again and everything went well - finishing fourth - on the way back to the beach I was counting and thought that maybe I had a chance of winning, so I couldn't believe it when it was real. It was really nice to win and the whole time I was also thinking about Alberto. I just want to take the opportunity now to thank Alberto because without him I would’ve never believed that I could be where I am right now. Basically it’s thank to him that I am here - he’s the one that made me start to believe that my dream could come true. Thanks, Alby.”
Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic) maintained his excellent early season form as he backed up his fourth place from Korea with a superb second place in Costa Brava, which sees him move up to joint second in the world overall. The Brit was the only other man - besides Iachino - to qualify for every winners’ final as he demonstrated tremendous top speed in the light winds and perfect gybes to carve his way through the fleet
After an excellent first race, it looked as though it would be business for usual for Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde). However, the reigning world champion then suffered a shock quarterfinal exit in the second elimination to throw the competition wide open. With his years of winning experience, Albeau, didn’t panic and claimed fifth place in the final race and with other surprise results throughout the event he still managed to grab the last place on the prestigious podium, whilst more importantly maintaining his place at the top of the overall world rankings.
Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) entered the event as one of the real danger men having finished second in Korea and winning the Defi Wind. The Frenchman won his opening heat in race one, but then suffered a disaster as moments before the start of his quarterfinal he encountered a problem with one harness line. Despite valiant efforts, Mortefon, couldn’t quite make it through to the quarterfinals and was faced with an uphill challenge. On the final day he did just that - finishing fifth in race two - before blitzing to victory in the final elimination to rally back and finish fourth overall.
Just like last year the French dominated over half of the places in the top ten. Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne) - last year’s vice-world champion - was just behind Albeau and Mortefon in fifth place, which crucially keeps his title aspirations alive after a less than ideal start in Korea. The same can also be said of Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) and Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) - who were also in desperate need of a good result after a disappointing opening event and that’s exactly what they managed to do as they completed the week in sixth and eight place respectively.
One of the most impressive performances of the week was by another Frenchman - Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Loft Sails / Mystic) - who enjoyed his best performance to date on the PWA World Tour. The twenty-six year old qualified for two out of three winners’ finals and saved his best until last to take home third place in the final race, which earned him an impressive seventh place overall.
The top ten was completed by Ben Van Der Steen (Tabou / GA Sails) and Adriaan Van Rijsselberghe (Starboard / NeilPryde) - with the latter breaking into the world’s top ten for the first time.
Other standout performances include Nicolas Warembourg (Patrik / Loft Sails / Mystic), who finished in eleventh place, whilst the youthful talents of Nicolas Goyard (RRD / Loft Sails) - 19 - Nicolas Prien (Fanatic / North) - and Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne) - 19 - showed there is plenty of promise for the future.
After a manic final day the closing ceremony was held to crown a new King of Costa Brava, whilst closing the curtain on another fantastic six days in Spain. The weather may not have always played ball over the past week, but there was still plenty of tricky and testing racing, which produced some surprise results whilst keeping the title race wide open. The slalom sailors will now have a break until the end of July before resuming battle in Fuerteventura.
Where’s Next on the PWA World Tour?
The freestyle and slalom fleets have held the limelight so far this year, so next time around it will be the wave sailors turn to take centre stage again as they prepare for their first contest of the season in Pozo, Gran Canaria, which runs between the 12th-18th July. Don’t miss any of the action by tuning into www.pwaworldtour.com.
Photo : John Carter/pwaworldtour.com