The 2008 Gran Canaria PWA Grand Slam – Day One
One day down, and the men’s and women’s wave single elimination is complete. The action packed day culminated with Victor Fernandez and Daida Moreno taking top honours in their respective fleets, leaving only the double elimination left to settle the scores.
The early rounds
Turning up the heat from the word go, the fist rounds of competition exploded into action. Danny Bruch (Gaastra) started as he intended to go on, knocking out Aleix Sanllehy (F2, North Sails) in round one, then experienced rival Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine, MFC) in round two.
Local, Marcos Perez (Exocet, Gun Sails) looked dangerous from the outset, fully utilizing his wealth of sailing experience in Pozo to string fluid and powerful turns together on the unpredictable waves. His downfall came when he met Marcilio Browne (Mistral, Gaastra) in the second round.
Levi Siver (Quatro, NeilPryde, Dakine, MFC) took an early exit at the hands of local wonder kid Philip Köster (F2, Neil Pryde), who proved he’s a talent not to underestimate as he continued to cause upset in subsequent rounds.
John Skye (RRD, Naish Sails) and Klaas Voget (Fanatic, NeilPryde, MFC) entertained one of the closest second rounds heats. Both sailors launched into towering one handed rotations, but Voget would ultimately steal the victory.
The latter stages
As the 48 man fleet continued to narrow, more and more big names dropped from the elimination. Alex Mussolini (RRD, NeilPryde) fell victim to Köster’s seemingly unstoppable run, and Julien Taboulet (F2, Naish) departed courtesy of Browne’s impressive freestyle-wave fusion.
Local favorite Dario Ojeda (Quatro, MFC) was stopped in his tracks by the super smooth wave riding of Josh Angulo (MauiSails, Dakine), and Bruch continued to dominate the airwaves with his gravity defying aerial rotations, defeating Scott McKercher (Starboard, Severne).
Entering the quarters, crowds were treated to arguably the heat of the day, when underdog Köster took on the might of competition favorite Victor Fernandez (Fanatic, Simmer Style, MFC). Fernandez may well have thought he’d done enough when he landed a perfect double forward, only for Köster to hammer straight back at him with a tweaked pushloop into forward loop. The scene was set, and the pair went off the scale with their jumps. Eventually Fernandez took the victory, but Köster had showed just what he’s capable of.
The 2007 world champion and current tour leader Kauli Seadi (JP, NeilPryde, Mormaii) was caught sleeping by highflier Bruch. Seadi didn’t go down without a fight and carved into devastating wave rides, but his downfall came in the air, where he failed to match both Bruch’s power and height. Bruch advanced, gaining a huge moral and confidence boost with the victory.
Also departing in the quarter finals was Browne, who was beaten by team mate and mentor Nik Baker (Mistral, North Sails), and Angulo, who fell at the hands of double looping maestro Campello. Campello’s so confident with his doubles that sponsors JP and NeilPryde have offered him a $10,000 bonus if he can land the first ever triple forward loop, and catch it on camera.
The semi finals were a fierce affair. Campello sized up Fernandez, and Baker took on Bruch. Kick starting the heat, the sailors left the beach and launched into three practically simultaneous forward loops. Gaining momentum from here, battle of the double loops commenced between Campello and Fernandez. Choosing the better ramps, Fernandez started to edge ahead, and super slick wave riding would finally condemn Campello to the losers final along with Baker, who was unlucky with his timing, and rarely found ramps to notch up his jump scores. Bruch on the other hand continued to fly higher than ever.
The final got off to a slow start as the waves just refused to show up. When they finally arrived, Fernandez executed a perfect double loop and some super technical wave riding. Bruch replied with a soaring one handed, one footed backloop and some aggressive riding of his own. It was a close tussle, but Fernandez delivered a more polished, and technically higher scoring repertoire to take first place ahead of Bruch.
In the losers final, Baker one again struggled to find ramps, opening the door for Campello to loop to victory, throwing in a shovit air spock for good measure.
The Women's Fleet
The fifteen strong women’s elimination followed a marginally more predictable path. Karin Jaggi (F2, North Sails) pieced together a solid quarter final heat to advance ahead of Silvia Alba Orozco (MFC), and Laure Treboux (Fanatic, North Sails) met her match when she faced Iballa Moreno (North Sails).
In the bottom half of the draw, Nayra Alonso (Fanatic, Severne) had to deliver a stellar performance to defeat Japan’s Junko Nagoshi (Simmer Sails, Dakine) and Daida Moreno (North Sails) unleashed tabletop forward perfection to fend off her rival Evi Tsape (Fanatic, NeilPryde).
The semi final saw some solid wave riding from Alonso, who picked up the set waves on the outside and slashed her way down them, right to the inside. Jaggi also produced moments of genius in her riding, but ultimately couldn’t reply to the Iballa Moreno’s dialed artillery of aerial acrobatics. Alonso’s fate was a similar one, entering the losers final after some devastating loops from Daida Moreno.
The final, Moreno vs., Moreno would boil down to wave riding, as the siblings seemed to match each other move for move in the air. Daida’s tactics paid off, as she meticulously alternated jumps with rides, where as Iballa left the riding section of her score sheet empty until it was too late to summon a ride of sufficient magnitude to topple Daida. Daida took the victory, with Iballa claiming second.
In the losers final, Jaggi’s more tweaked, higher table tops and smooth wave rides added to a score that Alonso struggled to match, despite getting some nice rides in herself. Jaggi took third and Alonso fourth.
That concludes day one of competition. Tomorrow, the wave fleet have their skippers meeting at 10am, and the race fleet have their skippers meeting at 11am. Be sure to tune into pwaworldtour.com to follow the next chapter of the 2008 Gran Canaria PWA Grand Slam.
PWA / Andrew Buchanan