PWA Alacati LIVE and Sean O'Brien Reports

Today’s theme was “there are no easy heats”.

After a long day in the sun yesterday with no racing, today started dramatically different. By 8am when I hit the breakfast omelettes with Steve Allen at our hotel, it was already quite windy. By the skippers meeting at 10.30am, we were already rigging down to 7.0m and our medium boards. A long day of racing before us…

Turkey is a flat water spot, with a shallow bay that is skinny at the top where we are starting the race, but widens as the course goes downwind and the wind funnels through this skinnier section of the bay then becomes quite shifty as it opens up in to the wider section, so sail selection is CRITICAL at this event as it can be the difference between speed around the course or missing the marks due to tight angles!

PWA Alacati. Credit PWA/JC.
PWA Alacati. Credit PWA/JC.

I started my event with a horrific first gybe which put me out of my first heat before it even finished. The run to the first mark is very short at this event so the starts are extremely important and we are generally hitting the first mark ALL AT ONCE, which is usually carnage. Kelly Slater (or Frederic Morin [NC-5] as he’s also known on the tour) found this out all too well as a 4-boat pile-up at the first gybe caused a serious slash to his arm and a hospital trip – which has ended his event in the first round of the day!

PWA Alacati. Credit PWA/JC.
Men's racing action PWA Alacati. Credit PWA/JC.

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel, Josh Angulo, Pierre Montefon and Cyril Moussilmani were some big names who all failed to qualify through their heats and when we got to the final it was Ben Van Der Steen who took the first final win ahead of Bjorn Dunkerbeck and Antoine Albeau.

The wind increased for Round two and sailors jumped down to 6.3 or 7.0 and many on their smallest boards. I was stuck on my medium board with 6.3m in my heat and had a killer start and leading towards the first mark before hitting a really nasty piece of chop coming downwind from the boat at a tough angle and nearly lost it! It took me a few seconds to regain control of the board and swallow my heart (which had just popped out of my mouth, literally) again and by that stage I was LAST to the first mark – game over.

PWA Alacati. Credit PWA/JC.
Sarah-Quita leading showing she has the speed PWA Alacati. Credit PWA/JC.

The usual suspects all qualified for the final all except Round one winner Ben Van Der Steen. In his quarter final, he was completely KO’d by his Loftsails teammate Ludovic Jossin at the startline. Ludovic had run fiercely downwind with 5 seconds to go and hit Ben who was underneath him, taking them both out and smashing Ben’s board to pieces – Ludovic had never seen Ben at all!

Bjorn had an uncharacteristic OCS in his semi-final which left Antoine Albeau to dominate this final without his two main rivals. Another standout in this round was Taty Frans, who using the smallest kit by far, managed to scoot his way up to 3rd in the winner’s final behind his MauiSails teammate Micah Buzianis in 2nd.

PWA Alacati. Credit PWA/JC.
Taty Frans leading Bjorn around the mark PWA Alacati. Credit PWA/JC.

In Round three, the wind continued to blow and I had an ok first heat qualifying in 4th before coming to the quarter final and a delay to reset the course and the wind became VERY sketchy. I was on 6.3m with my 107L medium board and Bjorn, Cyril and others were on 7.0m with 87L boards. The wind died at the start and I was rolled by Peter Bijl on 7.8m and medium board and struggled to plane out of any of the gybes – last place! Urgghhh.

The wind continued to get sketchier and shiftier but still with solid 30 knot gusts heading down the course (despite the PWA reports of ’25 knots’, I think when half the fleet tries out their 6.3m sails on 90L boards it is a little windier than 25 knots in a flat water location) which kept the races happening, despite frequent abandonment of many heats.

Finally, at 6pm, race director Juan pulled the plug with only the quarter finals finished for Round 3. So I get a bit of an extra sleep in tomorrow which will be nice as the body is still hurting after the Formula World Championships only 3 days ago.

Racing starts at 10am tomorrow and you can watch it all live right here!

Check out the previous reports from Sean below...

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