Gran Canaria Grand Slam
Event Summary: Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) dominates the slalom, whilst Phillip Köster (Starboard/NeilPryde/Dakine) and Daida Ruano Moreno (North Sails) rule the waves.
The locals here claim that Pozo Izquierdo is the best windsurfing spot in the world, and after eight epic days of action, we have been given reason to believe them.
The wind never fell below 35 knots during the slalom event, where the sailors pushed themselves beyond their physical limits to compete under immense pressure.
Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) got off to an uncharacteristic start, finding himself in the loser’s final for the first race, but this was not enough to hold the great Frenchman back. Albeau was simply brilliant this week, proving to the world that he is the man to beat, and without question the best slalom sailor in the world at this stage in the PWA Tour. Ultimately, Albeau finished every remaining race in the top ten, and in the top two for 82% of the counting races – an amazing statistic that highlighted his dominance.
All eyes were on the brilliant Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) during the opening rounds, as he continued his incredible form this year by finishing in the top three in every final on day one. William’s racing was excellent, and he was cool under pressure until an unlucky series of events proved to be his downfall. Unbeknown to Williams, a faulty battery in his race watch meant that he was losing five seconds on every start sequence, forcing him to arrive late to every start, and putting him under pressure for the remaining races, eventually badly effecting his overall position.
Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra/Dakine) has given his world ranking a massive boost after an excellent event. Always cool, calm and collected, Pritchard never missed a winner’s final, which under such harrowing conditions was an amazing accomplishment. Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard/North Sails) also demonstrated his prowess as a world-class racer, with steady results throughout the event. He will leave this event with confidence as he looks towards the remaining contests over the next few months.
The speed sensations Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) and Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) were at times the fastest sailors on the water, both excelling in the nuclear winds, and taking the win in three winner’s finals between them. Maynard battled until the end, missing a podium position by just 0.4 of a point as the top four positions switched in a daily basis. The fact that there was only 0.7 of a point separating second and fourth gives an indication to how intense the racing was this year, and we must thank the top guys for putting on such an amazing show right until the end of the event.
Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails) was outstanding this week, and he took a well-earned win in the final race, to the delight of his supporters. Volwater was superb in both racing and waves, his wisdom and years of experience adding to his great natural talent, and his result as proved that he is one of the best all-rounders of the sport.
The twins Sylvain Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style) and Benoit Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style) were excellent, often sailing in a team to dispatch their rivals. Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde), Patrick Diethelm (F2/North Sails), Cedric Bordes (Gaastra/Tabou), Ben Van der Steen (Exocet/Simmer Style) and Steve Allen were often involved in epic battles to the finish line down the final broad reach of the course, and made for a week of incredible action.
Diony Guadagnino (Hot Sails Maui/MFC), Robby Swift (JP/NeilPryde) and Matt Pearch (Fanatic/North Sails) showed excellent improvement throughout the week, and they will attract the industry’s attention as the top new blood in the slalom discipline. In an event as prestigious as this one, experience will always prevail, and these three competitors will come away from this event battle-hardened, and ready for Fuerteventura.
The racing this year proved to be true spectacle, and there were no easy heats. Only Albeau was strong enough to pull out consecutive wins, and as such, he has left as a true Champion.
The single elimination kicked off with a start that was worthy of a Hollywood script. The young and incredibly talented Phillip Köster (Starboard/NeilPryde/Dakine) did enough to beat the excellent Victor Fernandez (Fanatic/North Sails/MFC) in the ultimate showdown for the first round. Both sailors were incredible, and the judges’ sheets overflowed with perfect scores. Köster’s jumping was his lethal weapon, and he landed a planing double forward, as well as a push-loop table-top that looked so tweaked that it defied the laws of physics. With only half a point in it, Köster took the victory, and for a week, took his place as the new King of Pozo, in wait for the crucial double elimination.
There was a distinctly local flavor to the opening round, with Jonas Ceballos (Fanatic/Simmer Style MFC), and Dario Ojeda (Simmer Style/Dakine/Mormaii/MFC) sailing excellently at their home break. Ceballos was pulling out his usual massive stunts, whilst Ojeda really impressed with his wave riding. Ojeda consistently nailed takas after cranking vertical top to bottom turns in the most critical section of the wave.
An excellent opening round for Klaas Voget (Fanatic/NeilPryde/MFC) saw him progress past style masters Tonky Frans (F2/Gaastra) and Marcillo Browne (Fanatic/North Sails) to take an early position at fifth place, along side the World Champion Kauli Seadi (JP/NeilPryde/Mormaii/MFC), Ricardo Campello (JP/NeilPryde/MFC) and Alex Mussolini (Tabou). Seadi, Campello and Mussolini all pushed hard to run the double elimination, showing a passionate desire to chase for the top spot.
Dany Bruch (Exocet/Severne/MFC), Jose Romero (Simmer Style), Aleix Sanllehy (North Sails) and Mikey Clancy (Starboard/Severne/MFC) all impressed after injecting an impressive amount of young, fresh energy into the fleet.
The women’s fleet pulled off massive jumps and slick wave riding, especially from local hero Daida Ruano Moreno (North Sails), who stood out along side her twin Iballa Ruano Moreno (North Sails). These two were incredible, with double forwards, takas and massive backloops consistently in their repertoire. The twins took first and second place respectively, and looked comfortable in the 3.3m sail conditions.
Nayra Alonso (Fanatic/Severne) showed incredible talent, with her more radical jumping and wave riding style giving her the edge over the great Junko Nagoshi (Tabou/Simmer Style/Dakine). Both sailors have taken a much more extreme approach to their wave sailing, which has boosted the level of sailing in the women’s fleet yet again.
Laure Treboux (Fanatic/North Sails), Silvia Orozco (Goya/MFC), Alice Arutkin (Starboard/North Sails) and Evi Tsape (Fanatic/NeilPryde) were excellent in the first round, whilst the great Karin Jaggi (F2/Severne) made a great impression.
The conditions turned on for the final day of the double elimination, and the sailors faced 50-knot winds, and a solid logo high swell.
Starting the second elimination well were Marcos Perez, Dany Bruch and Thomas Traversa, who all sailed from the early rounds with a new sense of purpose as they boosted into massive jumps and impressive wave rides. Perez always sails well here, but Bruch and Traversa caught the crowd’s attention. Traversa landed arguably the highest forward of the day, from above the horizon, and hardly touched the water. Bruch landed clean wave 360s in all of his heats, which are the highest scoring wave moves, and nearly impossible in these conditions.
As the heats progressed, the excellent performances by Robby Swift (JP/NeilPryde) and Josh Angulo (Angulo/MauiSails/Dakine) were not enough to pass an inspired Klaas Voget (Fanatic/NeilPryde/MFC) or Alex Mussolini (Tabou). Mussolini in particular sailed his way through to the final five, where he was met by the outstanding Ricardo Campello (JP/NeilPryde/MFC).
Campello was amazing on the final day, as he sailed heat after heat in the double, passing Traversa, Bruch, Dario Ojeda (Simmer Style/Dakine/Mormaii/MFC) and Jonas Ceballos (Fanatic/Simmer Style/MFC). Indeed, Campello vs Ceballos was the most spectacular heat of the day, with both forced to jump higher and higher, landing stalled doubles and gravity-defying backloops.
It was tight between Campello and Victor Fernandez (Fanatic/North Sails/MFC) in the battle for third, but Fernandez scored the highest wave of the contest in the last minutes, linking together radical turns, a taka, a wave 360 and a goiter, and went on to win the heat.
The stage was then set for the ultimate show down in the best wave conditions of the event. Both Köster and Fernandez were superb, but once again the young star did enough to clinch the title. Köster landed the event’s only pushloop-tweak-forward cleanly in the final, on top of one of the highest stalled forwards ever seen from Pozo’s volcanic shores. At just fifteen, he has taken the world by storm with a performance that will see him compared to windsurfing’ legends.
The women’s elimination once again saw excellent performances from Silvia Orozco (Goya/MFC), Alice Arutkin (Starboard/North Sails) and Evi Tsape (Fanatic/NeilPryde), whilst Laure Treboux (Fanatic/North Sails) demonstrated a slick waveriding style, and excellent jumping skill.
The stand out sailors in the women’s double elimination was Karin Jaggi (F2 /Severne) who battled from the beginning to finish up third overall. Heat upon heat, Jaggi showed strength and determination, as well as an excellent repertoire that often included massive pushloops.
Nayra Alonso (Fanatic/Severne) was unlucky to lose out to Jaggi on a split decision, after sailing an excellent heat. This will be especially upsetting to Alonso whose wave sailing has received much praise this week.
It was once again a show down between Iballa Ruano Moreno (North Sails) and Daida Ruano Moreno (North Sails) for the final two spots. After landing two excellent backloops, Iballa’s battle was bought to an early conclusion after an air chacho attempt destroyed her kit, leaving her sister to sail into the spotlight and claim the title. Nothing should be taken away from Daida’s victory, as she sailed brilliantly, finishing an outstanding wave ride with the day’s biggest front-side air.
The 2009 Gran Canaria Grand Slam was once again an outstanding success. It combined nail-biting competition in the slalom fleet, a display of epic new talent in the men’s wave fleet, and an incredible spectacle from the women’s wave fleet. The overall rankings in all three disciplines are the closest that they have been for years, and this will add to the intensity to the year’s remaining contests.
Fuerteventura is the next event in the PWA calendar, which will conclude the amazing Canaries Tour. Running between the 22nd July and the 1st of August, the best windsurfers in the world will return to the incredible Sotavento beach, for both slalom and freestyle action.
Join us then for more exclusive live coverage, great photos and incredible video footage, only from www.PWAworldtour.com
1 Antoine Albeau
2 Kevin Pritchard
3 Cyril Moussilmani
4 Finian Maynard
1 Phillip Koster
2 Victor Fernandez
3 Ricardo Campello
4 Jonas Caballos
1 Daida Ruano Moreno
2 Iballa Ruano Moreno
3 Karin Jaggi
4 Nayra Alonso