The first day of the Catalunya Costa Brava PWA World Cup saw a relaxed start as light morning winds allowed competitors time to prepare for the week ahead. With a skippers meeting at 1pm and a first possible start at 2pm, the race crew were ready and waiting for the sea breeze to kick in.
On cue at around 2pm a light 10-15kt thermal wind switched on, giving the PWA elite their first chance to test the waters. The spectators were treated to an incredible show as the worlds best hit the ocean and went head to head to check their speed.
With the course set for a four gybe downwind slalom, the red flag went up for the first at 2.50 and the first 8 sailors hit the start line at full speed.
From the outset it looked like the major players meant business, with the top four seeds of heat one easily qualifying for the first quarterfinal. Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde) continued where he left off in Korea, taking the win, despite still suffering with a chipped metatarsal. Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra), loving the light winds, was right on his tail in 2nd. Interestingly Ross registered one of the smallest sails of anyone (8.4) as his biggest sail. Benoit Moussilmani (Starboard/SimmerSails) and Arnon Dagan (Tabou/Gaastra) both fought hard to claim the final two qualifying positions.
Heat two saw the biggest surprise of the day as French racer Damien Le Guen (JP/NeilPryde) shot into the lead ahead of one of the event favourites Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet/MauiSails). Damien is a light wind specialist and took advantage winning the heat and staking his place in the next round. Gonzo finished just behind in 2nd, like Ross opting for a smaller 8.4 sail to give him a higher top speed. Robby Swift (JP/NeilPryde) took the 3rd place whilst Ertugrul Icingir (Starboard/NeilPryde) of Turkey claimed the final qualifying place.
The third heat turned out to be cursed by the dying winds as black storm clouds hovered above the race course. Light winds plagued the gybe marks and three different attempts to finish the race were all abandoned. During one of the three attempts Julien Quentel (RRD/NeilPryde) even managed to cross the finish line, but behind him the rest of the fleet were left sinking in a wind hole.
Heat four, however, did get finished and it was Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) who dominated, leading from the start and taking the win comfortably. Asked before the event what his strategy was for winning the event he said, “to avoid collisions”. Leading from the start is obviously a great way to achieve that! Cedric Bordes (Tabou/Gaastra) claimed 2nd, a winter’s training with Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) clearly paying off. Taking the final two qualifying slots were two Italians: Andrea Rosati (RRD/NeilPryde) and Malte Reuscher (Starboard) finishing in 3rd and 4th respectively.
Unfortunately the storm cloud ultimately put an end to the thermal breeze and the wind switched off for the rest of the afternoon, leaving the crew on standby. After a long hopeful wait for wind, race officer Juan Antonio eventually had to admit defeat and called it off for the day at 5.30pm.