Gran Canaria Grand Slam
Gran Canaria is considered by many to be the jewel in the Tour’s crown. Synonymous with battering winds, pumping swells, and breathtaking action, it is the one event that can make or break the fortunes of the athletes who dare to compete in front of the rugged, volcanic landscape.
Running between the 10th and 17th of July, the forecast is for nuclear winds, and high surf yet again. For years, Gran Canaria has held counsel to the biggest names in the sport, often being the location where windsurfing history is made. Last year we were blown away by Ricardo Campello’s (JP/NeilPryde/MFC) first attempts at a triple loop, and this year rumours of yet more improbable stunts are circulating.
This brutal proving ground is often used to settle scores, and this year will be no exception. The 2009 Grand Slam will showcase men’s slalom, as well as both men’s and women’s waves.
Fortune favours those athletes who are physically tuned to withstand the ultra-high-wind conditions that are all too familiar here. Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) will be the undisputed favourite in the build up to the event, after incredible results here in the past. Meanwhile, giants among men Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne Sails) and Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde), will seem like Gods walking among mere mortals with their physical presence dominating the windmill strewn landscape, giving them a sure advantage amongst lesser specimens.
Race specialist Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) will be looking to maintain his incredible form this year, with his precise tactics and blistering board speed, whilst the experts Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde) and Jimmy Diaz (Starboard/North Sails) will be drawing on their vast experience to give them an edge over the dominant favourite Albeau.
Men’s and Women’s Waves:
Arguably the highlight of the event, the wave discipline, has always provided a gravity-defying spectacle that never ceases to amaze. The harrowing, turbulent waters of Pozo will seem worlds away from the satin perfection of Cabo Verde, yet Josh Angulo (Angulo/MauiSails/Dakine) will have to adapt immediately if he wants to hold his position leading this year’s title race.
Challenges from world-class performers come in the form of Kauli Seadi (JP/NeilPryde/MFC/Mormaii), Victor Fernandez (Fanatic/North Sails/MFC), and Jonas Ceballos (Fanatic/Simmer Style/MFC), whilst new-school heroes Marcillo Browne (Fanatic/North Sails) and Ricardo Campello (JP/NeilPryde/MFC) will no doubt demonstrate some of their searing talent here. News of the massive stunts pulled by Philip Köster (Starboard/NeilPryde) will be pushing the competitors to their limits as they approach the eve of the most eagerly anticipated event of the year.
We can expect the women’s wave event to be dominated by two particular locals who have the ability to tame these harsh waters in their blood: Daida Ruano Moreno (North Sails) and Iballa Ruano Moreno (North Sails). The twins have dominated the women’s wave discipline for years, thanks to a combination of fearless jumping skill, and technically astute wave riding. Challenges will come in the form of the excellent Nayra Alonso (Fanatic/Severne Sails), and an on form Junko Nagoshi (Tabou/Simmer Style/Dakine), who both impressed in the Pozo-esque condition last week in Lanzarote. Being their opening wave event of the year, a good result here is critical for a chance to fight for World Title.
The turbo-charged action will kick off on the 10th of July, where you can follow every white knuckle second LIVE here on the PWA website, where videos, pixel perfect images and the exclusive Live Ticker will provide you with up-to-the-minute access to the most exciting competition of the year, so stay with us as we report on history in the making.
© PWA / David Swift