PWA Costa Teguise World Cup
Day 1: Calm before the storm here in Lanzarote as the sailors prepare for nuclear winds for the remainder of the event.
The tranquil scenes that greeted the PWA World Tour this morning gave the sailors a chance to prepare for the opening freestyle event of the season as they waited patiently for the wind to strengthen. A gentle breeze cooled the air, and rippled over the Atlantic, the volcanic coastline providing a striking backdrop for the event.
A relaxed attitude on the beach masked an undercurrent of tension, as the sailors tuned their equipment and kept one eye on the strengthening wind. This year, the men’s fleet has an average age of just nineteen, and intrinsic to such youth comes determination, and a fearless desire to win. Last year’s winner, and defending World Champion, Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic/North Sails) is considered amongst the competitors to be the event favourite. The twenty-year-old Venezuelan is renowned for his flair and powerful combination- maneuvers that have impressed the windsurfing world since his debut in 2004.
Estredo was the first sailor on the water here this afternoon, determined to show his peers that he is unwavering in his ambition to hold on to the World Title. Despite the light winds, ‘Gollito’ executed complex moves with speed and confidence directly in front of the spectators at Costa Teguise. Antxon Otaegui (JP/NeilPryde/MFC) soon followed, making the most of the gusts, and pulling off smooth, one-handed ‘chachos’ on both tacks. The wind continued to drop, but Taty Frans (Starboard/MauiSails) amazed those watching with his graceful and precise style, sliding into flawless ‘flaka diablos’ over the glassy shallows.
Various names have been uttered in the apprehensive whispers of windsurfing’s elite today. Impressive results in Europe have given Belgium’s Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2/MauiSails) an aura amongst the Continental entrants, whilst sailors who have spent their time training in the Caribbean are focusing on Kiri Thode (Starboard/Gaastra), as the youngster’s talent develops. Success at home will add to the expectations on these athletes as they step up to the world stage, so be sure to watch out for them.
Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard/NeilPryde) goes into the event leading the women, as she looks to continue her success in the discipline. She has proved to be outstanding in the past, and is the favourite at this early stage in the event. The large proportion of Spanish entrants in the fleet look to please the crowd, with Silvia Alba Orozco (MFC), Nayra Alonso (Fanatic/Severne), Iballa Moreno (North Sails), and Daida Moreno (North Sails) all flying the local flag.
The faltering afternoon trades soon eased off to a light breeze, and a late announcement by Head Judge, Duncan Coombs, signaled the end of proceedings for Day 1. The pros' appear ready and eager for a chance to compete for the ultimate goal in Freestyle.
Earlier in the afternoon, the PWA took the chance to speak to the charming Lanzarote local, Antxon Otaegui (JP/NeilPryde/MFC) about his build up to his home event.
PWA: How have you been dividing your time in your training up until now?
AO: “I spent the majority of the year between Brazil, South Africa and Maui, concentrating on training for both waves and freestyle. I was in Brazil for five weeks, which was purely freestyle, then I went to develop the new JP Freestyle boards in South Africa. They are incredible this year, a lot more maneuverable and they seem to respond much faster. The photo shoot in Maui was a bit flat, but it was good to spend some time there”.
PWA: Who do you regard as the man to beat this year?
AO: “The top guys this year are definitely Gollito and Kiri. Everyone knows Gollito is good, but in Venezuela, Kiri was just amazing. He was boosting so much height on his moves, it was incredible. If it gets really windy, Brawzinho will do well, especially if there are waves, but the others will do better in light winds.”
PWA: Do you think the forecast of strong wind and waves will be an advantage to you?
AO: “I really hope so, it looks like there is going to be a massive swell coming into the bay here which would be incredible. It is always better here when there are some waves, and I am a lot more confident when I can add some jumps into a heat.”
PWA: Do you feel any added pressure competing in Lanzarote, at your home break?
AO: “It’s so nice to be here with friends and family, but I definitely get more nervous in Lanzarote. My parents can’t come down to the beach anymore because they get so nervous watching! I think I proved that I have the ability to do well when I won in Sylt, and I was very happy with fifth here last year. I would love to finish on the podium here this year.”
As the event closed down for the day, the prospect of an approaching swell had the competitors on alert. Lanzarote is celebrated for the variety of conditions on offer, and if the weather report is to be believed, it looks as though 2009 will be no exception. Stay tuned to www.pwaworldtour.com for live updates as they happen in the opening rounds of the PWA Freestyle World Cup.