The 2008 PWA Surf World Cup Podersdorf – Event Summary
Following a year’s break from the PWA calendar, the Austrian town of Podersdorf once again played host to the first stop on the men’s freestyle tour.
The light wind forecast for the first day of competition stayed true, meaning besides registration and rigging, the sailors could take some time out to explore the multitude of other attractions on offer. In the evening, Move Surfstore hosted the event’s official welcoming party.
In a similar style to the previous day, riders were welcomed to the event site by light winds and blue skies. Competition got underway late into the afternoon, with race officials running heats several hundred meters offshore, where the gusts were strongest.
Move of the day went to Swede Niklas Stråhlen (RRD, Simmer), who landed a regular stance chacho diablo. The day finished up with the final heat of round 1 being completed as the sun went down. The 16 winners advanced to round two of the draw, where they’d do battle with the top 16 seeded riders the following day.
The evening saw all 48 sailors grace the huge Bacardi soundstage and be individually announced to the massive crowd, before a night of revelry unfolded.
An ominous bank of dark clouds moved over the event site on day 3 of the contest, delivering a welcome breeze to the shores of Lake Neusiedler. The race committee wasted no time, scheduling heat 9 to start directly after the skippers meeting. Sadly, hopes of getting the heat going were dashed when the wind dropped just as the sailors were hitting the water. The afternoon was spent relaxing, as the wind teased but never built sufficiently to allow competition to go ahead. Hopes turned to day 4, which showed a promising forecast, and the possibility of an entire day of competition.
Later that evening, riders had the chance to let their hair down and party alongside thousands of Austrian locals. Each night of competition boasted its own bands and line up of deejays playing on three different stages, in addition to numerous bars, stands and food outlets, which combined with the windsurfing action created a perfect lifestyle blend of sport and music.
Day 4’s skippers meeting was arranged an hour earlier than the previous days, to take advantage of what looked to be a promising day ahead. Heat 9 was given the go ahead and the riders hit the water to warm up for the much-anticipated heat. To everyone’s disappointment, the wind seemed to have other plans, and again the riders of heat nine had to leave the water without a result. Another day of competition came to an end under clear skies, and with an apparent air of frustration as the wind continued to thwart competition.
Over the course of the sun-drenched afternoon, many of the riders used the downtime to spruce up their pit tents in preparation for the pit walk later in the competition. The six man pit tents were to be judged on their general ‘look’, with the winning pit taking home 1500 euros. Needless to say, creativity was running high, with some tents boasting fully rigged sails extended 5 meters into the air on poles, an others with their own private beaches inside!
The morning of day 5 kicked off with the re-run of heat 9. With the wind blowing consistently, the day was poised to deliver some radical action. The following seven heats of round two were run back to back.
Local boy Michael Roßmeier (Exocet, The Loft) sailed exceptionally, and was unlucky to be defeated by an on form Jose Estredo (Fanatic, North Sails, MFC), who took no prisoners with his routine of no handed flaka diablos and burners.
Andre Paskowski (Fanatic, North Sails) and Frenchman Nicolas Akgazciyan (Starboard, Gun Sails) played host to arguably the finest action of the round, defeating rivals Maarten van Ochten (JP, NeilPryde) and Mattia Pedrani (Mistral, North Sails) with a selection of flaka diablos and switch stance chachos.
Following directly on from round two, round three got going immediately. Without upset, the big names continued to advance. Moving into the first of the quarterfinals were team mates, Tonky Frans and Kiri Thode (Starboard, Gaastra) who successfully defeated Steven van Broeckhoven (F2, MauiSails) and Michael Sumereder (RRD, North Sails).
Also moving into the quarter finals were Taty Frans (Starboard, North Sails) and Jose Estredo, who dispatched Egor Popretinskiy (JP, NeilPryde) and Michael Roßmeier.
Stable mates Antxon Otaegui (JP, NeilPryde) and Ricardo Campello (JP, NeilPryde) advanced to the second of the quarter finals, defeating rivals Normen Günzlein (JP, NeilPryde) and Andreas Olandersson (Fanatic, Simmer, MFC) before the wind called an early end to the days proceedings.
A sunny final day of competition quickly whittled the field down to the final four riders, Tonky Frans vs. Jose Estredo and Antxon Otaegui vs. Marcilio Browne. However with only 2 hours remaining of competition, the entire lake had glassed off, and hopes of running both the semi final and the final looked slim.
Luck turned out to be on our side. In the final hour of the contest, the wind picked up and the semi final could be completed. Advancing into the winners final were Estredo and Browne, and into the losers final Otaegui and Tonky Frans.
The event’s final showdown was a spectacle to behold. The four finalists were giving everything they had, launching into huge aerial moves within touching distance of the ecstatic local crowd.
Standout moves included; Browne’s massive ponch directly in front of the judges, Estredo’s no handed flaka virtually on the beach, Tonky Frans’s flaka 720 and Otaegui’s smooth regular stance chacho.
Following ten minutes of epic freestyle, the horn blew ending the heat, and signifying the end of the first stop on the freestyle tour.
Almost as soon as it had arrived, the wind was gone, leaving only the final’s results to be announced. Hundreds of excited fans flocked to the main stage where the four finalists waited patiently on the judges’ decision. The tension was broken as the final standings boomed around the event ground, and within seconds the crowd was being treated to a champagne shower courtesy of event winner, Jose 'Gollito' Estredo.
The final heats results were as follows:
1. Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic, North Sails, MFC)
2. Marcilio ‘Brawzinho’ Brown (Mistral, Gaastra)
3. Tonky Frans (F2, Gaastra)
4. Antxon Otaegui (JP, NeilPryde, MFC)
That concludes the first freestyle event on the PWA calendar. The tour now rolls on to Ulsan, Korea for the first stop on the slalom tour, on the 12th of May. Be sure to check www.pwaworldtour.com from then to follow the action with our live event ticker, daily news summaries, video footage, awesome photo galleries, online elimination ladders and more!
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© PWA / Andrew Buchanan