A tricky week sees Cousin and Mortefon take title race lead
Friday, April 26, 2019 12:43 PM
The 2019 Marignane PWA World Cup proved to be a true test of patience and mental resolve for the world's best sailors as they were forced to wait much of the week for the wind to finally play ball.
Conditions remained tricky throughout with light winds in the early part of the week meaning that even the smallest of mistakes were punished, while on the final day fluctuating winds meant that having a caddy was crucial for success and even then selecting the correct gear was somewhat fortuitous. There were certainly a few doubts about whether a result would be gained heading into the final day, but thankfully the wind finally funnelled through to allow one elimination in the men's and women's fleets to be completed
Reigning world champion - Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) - made absolutely no mistakes in the opening event of the year as the 27-year-old won every heat during the one elimination completed in Marignane. Cousin Questel has now won the last five world tour events and looks as though she will be tough to beat after making such a confident and impressive start.
Fellow local girl - Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone) - was Cousin Questel's closest challenger and last year's world No.3 begins the season with an excellent 2nd place - equalling her best result since 2015 in Alacati. Second place here represents a great platform to build upon heading into the Asia leg of the tour in May.
There was a new face completing the podium in the opening event of the season with Oda Brødholt (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) earning her first top 3 result in the Slalom. The Norwegian, who earned a podium place in Bonaire the week before in Freestyle, is developing into one of the best all round female sailors in the world. However, we won't see her on the race course until September now as she won't be racing in either Japan or South Korea.
Former Youth PWA Slalom World Champion - Maëlle Guilbaud (Patrik / Loftsails) - made a solid start to the season with a 4th place and the 22-year-old will probably have a podium finish in her sights heading into Asia - especially Brødholt missing from the next two events.
Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins), who is only just back on the water after suffering a lisfranc fracture last summer made a decent start with a 5th place in Marignane. The 30-year-old did well to make the winners' final as she showed a tremendous turn of pace to overtake Fulya Ünlü (Starboard / Severne) in the semi-finals to secure the last qualifying place. Erdil also made a bright start to the final, but perhaps is just lacking that extra bit of fitness and sharpness to battle for the podium just yet.
The top 10 was completed by Esther de Geus (Fanatic / Duotone), Lilou Granier (Starboard / Phantom Sails), Nimet Tulumen (Tabou / GA Sails), who equals her best result since 2017 - 8th - Océane Lescadieu (S2Maui) and Fulya Ünlü.
In a preseason interview - Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins) - who has finished in the overall top 3 for the last 5 seasons, made no secret of the fact that he wishes to finally get his hands on the biggest trophy of them all and he made the perfect start to the season by claiming the top spot on the podium in Marignane. Victory here means that Mortefon has won back-to-back events for the first time in his career and must be confident heading into Asia.
Having made a late change of board sponsor to JP Australia - Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) - will be delighted to know that he is set to be competitive again in terms of board speed as he bids for a 26th world title. AA led the final, but with the wind increasing, he couldn't hang onto the lead on his 8.6m. However, second place represents an excellent start and you can expect to see him heavily involved in this season title race again.
Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails) broke into the overall top ten for the first time in his career in 2017, but then endured a torrid time in 2018 with just one top 10 finish leaving him in a lowly 23rd by the end of the year. However, the German bounced back in style during the season opener here with Kördel earning his second Slalom podium of his career in France - 3rd. The 28-year-old was obviously delighted with the result and will no doubt gain a big confidence boost heading into Japan and South Korea.
Last year's world No.4 - Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone) - makes a solid start to the new season with a 4th place here. The flying Dutchman looked comfortable through the sole elimination completed and looks as though he will be a major player again this year.
Finian Maynard (FMX Racing) can be proud of finishing 5th in France in his first event on his own boards. The 44-year-old was set to retire last year, but will now compete on the majority of the 2019 circuit with his new venture underway. Maynard made the best start to the winners' final, but like Albeau, he was on too bigger gear to challenge for the podium. The board speed is clearly there though for Maynard to challenge for the top places.
Meanwhile, Julien Quentel (Patrik / Gun Sails) claimed 6th place ahead of Bruno Martini (I-99 / Challenger Sails), who starts the season with his best result since 2016 - 7th - while Malte Reuscher (Tabou / GA Sails) finished 8th - which is also his best result since 2016.
Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde) produced a brilliant last gybe in the b-final to claim 9th place, while Marco Lang (Fanatic / Duotone) will be pleased to start the season with an excellent 10th place and is seemingly, finally back to full fitness.
The tricky conditions did see several of the top seeds fall early in France and the most notable name was that of vice-world champion - Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses) - who was knocked out in the quarterfinals. Last year's world No.6 and No.7 - Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails) and Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails) also suffered the same fate and all 3 sailors will be looking to hit back quickly in Asia to get their seasons up and running.
Where's Next on the PWA World Tour?
In a couple of weeks time, the world's fastest sailors will be action again as they ready themselves for the Asian leg of the tour - firstly for the Fly! ANA PWA World Cup (10th-15th May) followed by the Ulsan PWA World Cup (18th-23rd May).