PWA World Cup Slalom Korea - Event Summary

Sarah-Quita Offringa takes early season lead after ultimately frustrating week.

The last six days in Ulsan, South Korea, have ultimately proved to be highly frustrating with the wind either remaining marginal or extremely gusty and shifty throughout. The penultimate day provided the best of the conditions, which allowed a result to be gained in the women’s fleet with defending world champion Sarah-Quita Offringa taking the early season advantage.


Sarah-Quita Offringa made the perfect start to her title defence as she led from start to finish in the one elimination completed and she’ll be happy to have escaped the tricky conditions with victory heading into Japan.

Lena Erdil chased home Offringa in second place, and already at this early stage of the season it looks as though it could be another fight for the world title between the Aruban and the Turk. Erdil looked blisteringly quick on the straights and it will be interesting to see the title race develop when they have more races under their belts.

Marion Mortefon returned to form to record her best result since 2015 and she’ll be delighted with her third place to kick off the season. The 25-year-old showed off textbook gybes to out maneuver her opponents in the final and she’ll be a threat again next week.

Esther de Geus, Maëlle Guilbaud and Oda Johanne all walk away from Korea with their best results on the world tour so far after finishing 4th, 5th and 6th, respectively.

It was damage limitation for Delphine Cousin Questel after the two-time world champion missed out on the winners’ final after snapping her outhaul on day five. The 25-year-old did just that by winning the losers’ final, but realistically she can afford no more mistakes in the remaining three events if she wants to challenge for a third world crown.

A winter of training in Tenerife paid dividends for Nimet Tulumen with the 28-year-old recording her first top ten finish – 8th – but fellow Turks Cagla Kubat and Fulya Ünlü will want to quickly forget this event after disappointing 13th and 19th place finishes.


Despite the men’s fleet being whittled down to the top 16, no result stands as it was not possible to complete the winners’ final, which will leave a bitter taste in the mouth for: Sebastian Kördel, Pierre Mortefon, Taty Frans, Maciek Rutkowski, Matteo Iachino, Julien Quentel, Marco Lang and Cyril Moussilmani – all of whom would’ve been guaranteed a place in the top 8 or better.

Ross Williams – world’s no.3 last year – will breathe a sigh of relief that his quarterfinal exit has not been punished and the Brit can head into Japan with a clean slate like the rest of the fleet.

Heat of Doom

Heat 14 – the second men’s semifinal featured Lang, Jordy Vonk, Quentel, Alexandre Cousin, Iachino, Ben van der Steen and Moussilmani – proved to be the heat of doom as it required a painstaking 13 attempts to eventually be completed.

In the end, reigning world champion Iachino won the heat ahead of Quentel, Lang and Moussilmani, but in reality almost every sailor had been in the qualifying places at one time or another in the previous attempts. 23-time world champion – Antoine Albeau – will be glad that the result did not stand after he was disqualified for a premature start when pushing in extremely light airs.

Emotions will vary greatly between the sailors depending on where they were in the elimination ladder, but ultimately everyone will now go into the next event in Japan on a level playing field.

The second installment of slalom is just a few days away and the best slalom sailors in the world will be taking the short plane journey to Japan tomorrow to get ready for the Fly! ANA PWA World Cup, which takes place at Tsukuihama Beach in Yokosuka City between the 11th-16th May. Make sure you tune into PWA World to follow all of the developments live from Japan – where hopefully the wind gods will be more cooperative.

    Day 5: A tricky day of racing sees Sarah-Quita Offringa take first bullet of season

The penultimate day of the Ulsan PWA World Cup saw the racing officially begin, but today was anything but plain sailing with extremely gusty and shifty winds making racing a real battle, which lead to numerous cancellations throughout the day. However, by the end of the day a result has been gained in the women’s fleet – with Sarah-Quita Offringa making a flying start to clinch the opening bullet of the season. Meanwhile, the first men’s semifinal has been completed, but their result still hangs in the balance heading into the final day.

Women’s Elimination One – Winners’ Final

Sarah-Quita Offringa made the perfect start to her title defence today as the Aruban gem claimed the first bullet of the season ahead of one her biggest rivals Lena Erdil, who sailed solidly to secure second place.

Sarah-Quita Offringa had this to say on today’s racing:

“It was a pretty tough couple of heats actually with tricky wind and water conditions. I was on my 7.0m² and medium board and I was fully focused on hitting the start line at full speed – otherwise I was scared of getting covered by the rest of the fleet.

I was really nervous on the water even after the start because of the water conditions – it was super choppy and coming from every direction. It was a good race and I felt like I had a good start, but I thought that Lena [Erdil] was making ground on me. After the first gybe it looked like there was a lull, but I think with the clean wind I was able to get through it and then I could open a bit of a gap and take some of the pressure off as Lena got slightly stuck.”

Meanwhile, Marion Mortefon produced a superb gybe at the first to maneuver herself into third place to complete the top three ahead of Esther de Geus, who would go on to record her best result in an elimination so far by taking home 4th.

There was a major shock in the opening semifinal as former two-time world champion – Delphine Cousin Questel – missed out on the opening winners’ final of the year after suffering a snapped outhaul at the last mark, which caused her to crash her gybe and offer no possibility of staging a recovery when in the qualifying positions.

Elsewhere, Fujiko Onishi who finished 4th overall last year, was disqualified from Heat 2 for a premature start, while Fulya Ünlü and Mia Anayama both suffered the same fate. A dropped gybe from Cagla Kubat in the same heat also allowed Oda Johanne to snatch the final qualifying spot in the winners’ final – with the Norwegian then going on to record her best single result so far – 6th.

Men’s Elimination One

Sebastian Kördel became the first man to book his place in the opening winners’ final of the year with a superb performance in Heat 13 as the German led from start to finish to win the heat in impressive fashion.

However, behind Kördel there was a tremendous battle for the remaining three places in the top four between Pascal Toselli, Pierre Mortefon, Taty Frans and Maciek Rutkowski. Mortefon managed to gain the upper hand to secure second place, while it looked as though Toselli would qualify with Frans, with the Frenchman having been in top four until the last mark. However, Rutkowski dug deep and never gave up hope of breaking into the top four and his tenacious attitude was rewarded as he pipped Toselli to the final place in the winners’ final.

All four sailors will now be praying that there is enough wind tomorrow to complete at least the other semifinal and the winners’ final – otherwise the result will not stand.

Marco Lang had looked blisteringly quick all day and the Austrian will be gutted that the second semifinal was cancelled when he held a substantial lead when rounding the third – before the wind dropped as yet another cancellation was made. The second semifinal was also cancelled on more than one occasion.

Lang will now have to wait patiently with teammate Jordy Vonk, 23-time world champion Antoine Albeau, Julien Quentel, Alexandre Cousin, reigning world champion Matteo Iachino, Ben van der Steen and Cyril Moussilmani for another chance to earn their place in the top 8.

The biggest casualty of the day was Ross Williams – 3rd overall in 2016 – who was eliminated in the quarterfinals and the Brit was less than impressed with the heat not being cancelled after pumping for an entire reach.

Elsewhere, Basile Jacquin who is still only 18-years-old continued to catch the eye and his performance deservedly led to a spot in the semifinals and he’ll now take his place in the losers’ finals.

All hopes are now pinned on tomorrow, which is the final day. The forecast currently predicts offshore westerly winds of 12-24 knots in the morning, so there will be another early morning skippers’ meeting at 6 AM (GMT+9) with the action commencing from 6:30 AM (GMT+9) – if conditions allow. If the early morning doesn’t provide suitable conditions then there is still a chance of the afternoon providing a sea breeze with southwesterly winds of 11-15 knots being forecast.

Result Women’s Elimination One – 2017 Ulsan PWA World Cup:

1st Sarah-Quita Offringa
2nd Lena Erdil
Marion Mortefon
4th Esther de Geus
5th Maëlle Guilbaud
6th Oda Johanne
Yuki Sunaga
8th Nimet Tulumen
9th Ayako Suzuki
9th Maria Shapkina

    Day 4: Conditions remain on the verge as the waiting game continues

The early morning gamble at first light didn’t pay off first thing this morning with little to no wind greeting the crew and sailors. However, as the day progressed the offshore winds slowly swung round to the southwest and by mid-afternoon things started to look quite promising with the local sea breeze trying to kick in.

Shortly after 4 PM the wind did briefly pick up to 10-18 knots and the first attempt to run the opening heat of the year was made, but unfortunately after the first buoy it had to be cancelled. From here the conditions continued to deteriorate so the waiting game goes on in South Korea.

Earlier in the day we asked Kurosh Kiani to take you through the basics of setting up a slalom sail:

Boom Height

– I’m a fairly standard height – not massively tall anyway – and compared to many guys I use a relatively low boom height. I like to use a lower boom mostly because it helps with gybing. It’s also the point where I feel most comfortable with my sail. I have my boom set on the lowest point I can before the board feels really stuck to the water otherwise.

– What you’ll find is if you use a really high boom then you really have to rake the rig back, but boom height is also a matter of personal preference – so experiment until you find what you feel comfortable with.


– Most of the modern slalom sails require a moderate amount of downhaul even as a minimum setting. My Point-7 sail in question here actually has less downhaul than usual, but that again comes down to personal preference as I like them with a bit less.

– The less downhaul you put on the more backhanded your sail will feel. The more downhaul you put the more streamlined profile you will have and you’ll find the nose of your board will lift up more.

– The downside of more downhaul is that you’ll lose a bit going upwind – so I like to try and find a compromise in the middle.


– I like to set my sails with a decent amount of outhaul too so the sail is nice and tight.

– Most of the guys tend to set the outhaul with zero or negative outhaul, which means the sail is generally touching the boom all the way along, but that is also conditions dependent.

– I prefer to have a tighter leech and outhaul so that I can point higher and have more power.

Adjustable Outhauls

– The adjustable outhaul is a must have. I use it constantly – sometimes even during the race. It’s an essential piece of equipment to have if you are slalom racing.

– It’s important that you play around and experiment until you find the settings that fit you the best as settings that work for one sailor will not necessarily work for another. There isn’t a magic formula you just have to try and find what is working the best for you, your stance and your body size.

PWA: Thanks Kurosh.

Heading into the penultimate day of the event – the forecast looks the most promising day of the week so far with 15-29 knots of wind from the west-south-west being predicted by 1 PM. Today saw the conditions right on the edge, so hopefully tomorrow proves to be the day when the 2017 title races can officially begin. The sailors will meet again at 9 AM tomorrow morning with the action commencing from 9:30 AM (GMT+9) – if conditions allow.

    Day 3: Finian Maynard discusses new diet, optimum weight for slalom & aim for season

For a while it looked as though the wind would kick in on the third day of the 2017 Ulsan PWA World Cup, but despite teasing the competitors for most of the late morning and afternoon it never properly filled in – with the cloudy blocking the local thermal effect. Throughout the day most of the fleet were tempted out at one point or another, but that would be as good as it got as the waiting game continues in South Korea.

With plenty of downtime once again we caught up with Finian Maynard, who is a multiple-time speed world champion as well as being one of the old guard of the world’s top 10. In recent years he has struggled somewhat in the lighter airs, but over the winter he has taken a radical approach, which has seen him drop 10 kilos in order to try and make himself competitive again in the lighter winds.

PWA: Over the winter you switched up your diet – why did you choose to mix things up and what does your new diet consist of?
I realized that the game had changed and that that had been coming for a while, traditional slalom was about strength and weight and today’s slalom is about light and nimble on your feet because the equipment is so much more stable now than it used to be. In recent years it became a disadvantage at the marks to be heavy and this is where the majority of the overtaking happens.

On the basis of this in La Torche, France, last year I decided to compete for another season, but I also decided that I wanted to lose 10 kilos…

PWA: How did you go about?
I researched online and spoke to a few people and decided the best way was to cut out all processed sugar, to consume no carbs after lunch – if at all during the day – eat loads of salads and gain the majority of my protein from vegetarian sources.

PWA: What’s a typical day?
Fruit in the morning, salads for lunch, evening salads, fish and other non-carbohydrate meals

PWA: Did you also make some changes to your training routine?
No, I just changed up my diet and kept my normal routine of sailing, running etc.

PWA: What made you decide on 10kg?
I just felt like 100 kilos would be a competitive weight, but I need to see how it works out in competition.

PWA: While training can you notice any difference on the water?
It doesn’t seem to have affected my top speed, but I seem to be a bit quicker away from the marks. Also I’m using slightly smaller sails, closer to the size of the other guys, than before.

PWA: Do you have a figure in mind that you think is the optimum weight for a slalom sailor right now?
It depends on your body type, but for my body type I would guess about 100kg. I would say for the taller, skinnier guys then around 93-94kg or something like that.

PWA: What have you cut your weight down to?
I have definitely been way too heavy… Last year in Sylt I was 113kg and now I’m 103kg. So, I lost 10kg over the close season and I’m pretty happy about that.

PWA: With your change in weight have you changed any of your equipment choices compared to last year?
No I didn’t make any changes actually, so I hope that’s the right choice (laughs). It’s something that I really considered, but I got a little gun shy at the end… I was thinking about taking 9.6m² as my biggest, but Gun Sails have a 10m² registered and I used that quite a bit last year, so I just angled towards keeping my stuff the same as last year and hope for the best.

PWA: So, what board and sail sizes are you running again for the coming season?
Board wise, I registered 99l, 119l and 139l. Sails wise – 6.3m², 7.1m², 7.8m², 8.6m², 9.6m² and 10m²

PWA: Have you got any specific aims for the season?
I want to have fun, but I also want to try and realize my potential to get back to the top.

PWA: Thanks Finian, good luck for the rest of the event and the season.

Tomorrow will see an extremely early start with the possibility of northerly winds in the morning, so the skippers’ meeting has been called for 6 AM with the action commencing from 6:15 AM (GMT+9) – if conditions allow. If the early morning gamble doesn’t pay off then the afternoon looks good again on paper with clear skies and southwesterly winds of 13-19 knots being forecast.

    Day 2: Catchup with Gabriel Browne who returns to the PWA World Tour

The light winds continued on day two of the Ulsan PWA World Cup meaning the majority of the slalom fleet remained landlocked for another day. Earlier in the day a few sailors did sneak in a few planing runs, but the initial early promise soon wilted away.

Gabriel Browne – the brother of former two-time world champion Marcilio Browne – returns to the PWA Slalom World Tour this year. The 25-year-old first competed on the tour as a young 14-year-old and had plenty of potential. However, he chose to take some time away from competing to pursue a ‘normal’ job for a few years, but since then he has had a change of heart and has made the decision to return to the world tour. Here’s an interview with Gabriel ahead of his return.

PWA: When did you first compete on the PWA?
I competed in my first PWA contest when I was 14-years-old in Fuerteventura. I remember I had some gear that I brought from Brazil. But when I got there I realized that the wind was very strong so I had to borrow a 5.0m² from Gonzalo [Costa Hoevel]. After this event I got a sponsorship with F2 and the following year I did my first full year on tour at 15!

PWA: How were your results in those years?
I was normally top 15-20. My best result was in Austria when I had a 5th place!! I was very happy!

PWA: Your brother is a former wave world champion – are you for now more known for being the brother, or for being Gabriel between the windsurfers?
I know it counts a lot for me being the brother of Marcilio. A lot of people know me from being his brother, or sometimes they see my name and ask. I think this is fine for me, I’m proud of everything he did in the windsurfing world and how he is such a good professional in all aspects.

On the other hand, I had some good results in the past, especially in formula windsurfing, when I won 3 consecutive World Cup events in Brazil (2009 ,2010 & 2011) and a 3rd place in the Formula World Championship when I was 19-years -old. So there is also some people that know me from that. I’m happy with what I achieved but I think there is a lot more to come!!

PWA: Why you did not choose to compete in wave as your main discipline instead of slalom?
Waves are my passion! I love wave sailing!! I have such a great time sailing in Ho’okipa or anywhere actually. A lot of people ask me that. How come I chose racing and my brother freestyle and then wave? Honestly, I don’t really know the answer as to why. It was something natural. I was always heavier than my brother and I really like adjusting my gear and tuning stuff. Maybe that’s the reason I chose slalom. In the end it was a good move for the Browne family!! Ahaha.

PWA: If you were to have a wave heat Marcilio Vs Gabriel – what would be the result out of 10?
I would say, if it is a surfing, down-the line-place… I would be breathing down his neck!!! Haha. Not really… For me my brother is the the best and most complete wave sailor in the world. He can do everything for both tacks. His skills and style to perform are unique and so well done! It’s a pleasure to watch him sailing! But I have my good turns sometimes…

PWA: This year you returning to the PWA World Tour, what pushed you in to deciding to make a come back, apart from the fact that you are a very talented windsurfer and still young?
I started windsurfing and competing very early. So I’ve been around for many years. People think I’m already an old guy. But I’m still very young, I’m just 25 years-old. Windsurfing is my passion, I love it!

I quit the tour a few years ago because I wanted to have a “normal”‘ job, but I realized that this is not the life I wanted and I wasn’t happy. I have always had it in the back of my mind that I was not using my talent, so I decided last year that I wanted to comeback on tour. I spent 8 months on Maui developing the new Goya Boards, I e-mailed Andrea [Cucchi] saying that I want to buy the best sails on market, and that’s it!! It was the start of the beginning again.

PWA: Your plans apart from competing on the PWA World Tour?
Apart from the PWA I want to get more involved with windsurfing. Right now I’m the Brazilian dealer for Goya Windsurfing, also I’m very busy with all the R&D for Goya Racing Boards. I love doing that! I really enjoy testing, giving feedback, talk about equipment. Hope I can get closer to the P7 sails development too, I’m always here to help Andrea if he needs.

PWA: What’s your goal for the season?
I don’t want to have high expectations for my first year. I know I can do well, my sails are good, my boards are good. But there are other things around… I trust myself, I train hard. Let’s see!

PWA: Good luck Gabriel.

The forecast looks promising for tomorrow morning with southwesterly winds around 8-12 knots being predicted, which should be topped up by the local thermal effect to provide racing conditions. The skippers’ meeting shall be held at 9:30am again tomorrow morning with the action commencing from 10:30am (GMT+9).

    Day 1: Sailors registered, rigged and ready

It was a quiet start to the opening day of the 2017 Ulsan PWA World Cup with light winds and sunny skies throughout the day. The highlight was the official opening ceremony which saw a water jet pack performance and a local band perform.

In the afternoon we spoke with the women’s vice-world champion Lena Erdil:

PWA: Hey Lena, how’s it going and how was your winter?
Hey! I’m good! I had a nice winter, training in a lot of different conditions in Maui, Cape Town, the Canaries and just before coming here I went to Lake Garda to train with the Point-7 Team, which was a great bit of last minute preparation before the new season starts.

PWA: You won the event here last year – are you happy to be back?
Of course, I have really good memories as last year was the first time I won a PWA event. Of course I hope I can do the same again this time around and I’m feeling good about it.

PWA: Last year you also came really close to winning your first world title are you ready for another title challenge?
Well yeah… (laughs) I hope so. I’ll do my best. I was really sad with the way I lost out in the end. I really messed up in that last race in Denmark, but that just makes me want it even more now, so I hope I can make it happen. I’ll just give it my best shot and see.

PWA: Thanks Lena – good luck for the contest.

With the conditions failing to improve the sailors were released at 6 PM. The best chance for tomorrow looks as though it will be in the late morning or early afternoon with 7-12 knots of wind being predicted from the southeast. The skippers’ meeting has been called for 9:30 AM with the first possible start at 10:30 AM (GMT+9).

    The start of the 2017 PWA Slalom World Tour is here

The start of the 2017 PWA Slalom World Tour is almost upon us and the world’s fastest sailors are preparing for a two-leg stint in Asia to kick off the year. From the 3rd to the 8th May Jinha Beach will play host to the creme de la creme of the racing world. The Ulsan PWA World Cup will be the first of seven events for the men and first of four for the women in what is set to be a pulsating year of racing.

Situated in the southeast of South Korea, Jinha beach is a thirty minute drive from Ulsan and has developed the reputation of being the top windsurfing location in the country. With a rich eastern culture, amazing white sand beaches and reliable trade winds, it is easy to see why windsurfers all over South Korea hold this spot in such high esteem. Jinha Beach isn’t always the easiest place to compete with sometimes gusty nature of the wind and seaweed wreaking havoc, but that’s just another part of what promises to be a fascinating start to the season.

Ones to Watch – Women

Sarah-Quita Offringa pipped Lena Erdil to the women’s slalom world title last year to earn a 3rd slalom world crown and will start the season as favourite. The 25-year-old has opted to go up in board sizes this year to help get her through the lulls and if her plan works out she’ll be very hard to stop with her blistering speed on the race course making her hard to catch.

Having come so close to a maiden world title in 2016 Lena Erdil will be desperate to make a strong start to the season and she’ll have fond memories returning to Korea having won here last year. Erdil has finished as the vice-world champion in two out of the last three seasons, while she was 3rd in 2015 – could 2017 finally be the year for the 28-year-old to go one or two places better? Time will tell, but she should be heavily involved in the title race once again.

Two-time world champion – Delphine Cousin Questel finished last season in 3rd place overall and she’ll be looking to secure her first world title since 2014. Cousin Questel has also changed sails over the winter – joining S2Maui – and it’ll be interesting to see what her pace is like in the opening event of the year.

Also keep an eye out for the Japanese quartet of Fujiko Onishi – 4th overall last year – Yuka Sunaga – 6th for 2016 – Ayako Suzuki and Mio Anayama.

Fulya Ünlü is one of the brightest young talents on the women’s tour and she’ll be hoping to build upon 4th and 5th place finishes in the last two years. The 21-year-old showed she has the speed and the talent to be at the top of the game after scoring a bullet here in 2015 and if everything clicks into place she will be challenging for top honours over the course of the season, while fellow Turk Cagla Kubat should also be in the mix.

Oda Johanne could well be the dark horse for the coming season. The Norwegian is well known for her freestyle exploits, having finished on the prestigious podium for the last 3 years running and she is now set to transfer those skills onto the race course. The 28-year-old combined training freestyle with slalom while in Bonaire this winter and she is certainly one to watch.

Elsewhere, France’s Marion Mortefon could easily be challenging for the top 5 and beyond if she can find her best form, while Esther de Geus could also be a threat after another winter of training in Tenerife under her belt.


Matteo Iachino starts the year as the defending champion for the first time in his career and he’ll be hoping to follow up last year’s victory in Korea with another to make the perfect start to his defence. The Italian was in scintillating form last year winning 3 out of the 5 events and coming into the new season he says he’s far more relaxed than this time last year, which could be an ominous sign for his rivals.

Pierre Mortefon has been knocking on the door for the last few seasons and has finished as the runner up in 2015 and ’16. The Frenchman is undoubtedly one of the top talents on the tour and it surely seems just a matter of time before he gets his nose in front, but will 2017 prove to be the year?

Ross Williams held off a stern challenge from Julien Quentel at the end of last year to secure the final place on the heralded podium, which was 37-year-olds best result to date. The Brit will now be looking to build upon that success and continue his rich vein of form from the last couple of seasons.

Antoine Albeau suffered a disappointing season last year, by his standards, but that still saw him ranked 5th overall. Also the manner of Albeau’s victory in Fuerteventura last year shows that he is still as hungry and dangerous as ever and it’d be no surprise to see him claim his 24th world title come the end of the year.

Taty Frans continues to go from strength-to-strength on the race course and 2016 proved to be his best year so far – 6th overall. Frans consistently pushes the starts, while possessing some of the best gybing in the world, which he uses to great affect to go through gaps that most wouldn’t even consider and he’ll be in the mix once again.

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel jumped into 7th place for 2016 after a superb second place in Sylt, Germany, and he’ll be hoping to carry that momentum into new season, while Cyril Moussilmani will be hoping to reconjure the form which brought him so close to a first world title in 2014.

Elsewhere, the likes of Italian Andrea Cucchi, Israel’s Arnon Dagan, France’s Pascal Toselli – who was unfortunate to suffer a dislocated a shoulder midway through Fuerteventura when enjoying a fine season should all be in the thick of the action.

The strength in depth on the world tour right now is blindingly obvious to see and there are no easy rounds and it’s almost impossible to cover everyone who can potentially challenge for the top 10 and beyond. However, it is going to be interesting to see if Ben van der Steen, who has changed sponsors over the winter, can bounce back from his worst season for a few years, while former teammate Cedric Bordes will also be hoping to return to the top 10.

With professional training camps being held over the winter this year could prove to be one of the closest battles on record and they’ll be no room for error – with any mistakes likely to be badly punished. See who shines and who crash and burns in the opening event of the year by tuning into PWA World between the 3rd and 8th of May – here you’ll be able to follow the action as it happens via the PWA live stream, live ticker, while seeing the best of the action at the end of the day via John Carter’s images.

– Text and pictures are courtesy of John Carter / PWA World Tour