Fuerteventura Grand Slam
A relaxing day on the beach for most, as the double elimination continued throughout the morning until light winds forced a delay in the proceedings. The late afternoon saw the return of the wind, and with it, the return of the super stars. Great performances by the World Champions finished the day off, as Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic/North Sails) and Sara Quita Offringa (Starboard/NeilPryde) confirmed their victories with two outstanding performances.
At first glance, the morning looked much like the familiar scene that we have become accustomed to this week. 35 knots, and perfectly flat water pushed up to the end of the full grand stand, and competition was soon underway.
The epic action kicked off with the women’s fleet, where Junko Nagoshi (Tabou/Simmer Style/Dakine) immediately stood out against a solid performance by Anna Maria Zollet. Nagoshi continued to impress by linking perfect puneta 540s, and spocks which saw her past the brilliant Heike Reimann (Hot Sails Maui) and into a battle for fifth place.
On the other side of the ladder, a determined Nayra Alonso (Fanatic/Severne) was sailing brilliantly, with slick grubbys and spock 540s adding to her great heats. Alonso beat Olga Raskina (JP/NeilPryde/MFC) in a tight heat, and then stood to face Nagoshi. In her best heat of the event so far, Alonso sailed excellently, and went on to pass Nagoshi and Iballa Ruano Moreno (North Sails) in a great run into the top four.
However, Alonso’s great efforts were ended when she came to face the outstanding Yoli Freites De Brendt (Fanatic/North Sails), who sailed incredibly to retain her third place position, before the wind shut off for the afternoon.
When the see breeze returned, it was Daida Ruano Moreno’s (North Sails) turn to impress, as she turned all of her skills against De Brendt, winning the tight heat. Moreno was firing today, landing flakas, punetas and ponches, and looking like a serious threat for Offringa.
Unfortunately for the successful Spaniard, Sarah Quita Offringa (Starboard/NeilPryde) really stepped up a level, and sailed her best heat of the year. She was flawless in her execution of the most recent and technically demanding moves, finishing with a perfect chacho Diablo, and taking the victory in front of a huge and adoring crowd.
The men’s fleet took to the water, with eight epic heats that really demonstrated the top end skill of the freestyle discipline.
Key sailors in this round came in the form of Norman Günzlein (JP/NeilPryde), Andre Paskowski (Fanatic/North Sails), Davy Scheffers (Tabou/Gaastra) and Quincy Offringa (Starboard/Severne), who busted out high moves in the crystal clear shallows. Günzlein and Paskowski were amazing with the speed at which they entered their moves, which made the tricks they performed look that much more radical. It also made their wipeouts that much more spectacular, as we saw with Günzlein today. At one point, he exploded in a shaka and was left swimming out to sea to collect his gear after a massive crash, forcing him out of the contest area, and ultimately costing him the heat.
Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2/MauiSails) looked to be the most likely contender to make it all the way through this punishing round. Going head to head with Philip Soltysiak (Starboard/Dakine), Andre Paskowski (Fanatic/North), Taty Frans (Starboard/MauiSails), and Kiri Thode (Starboard/Gaastra) in four unbelievable heats, Van Broeckhoven never looked like he was going to be beaten. The young European Freestyle sensation has caught our eye since Lanzarote, and he was brilliant today, dominating all four heats.
However, Van Broeckhoven’s run of success finally came to a halt against Tonky Frans (F2/Gaastra), who made the most of the lighter conditions and turned on his Caribbean style. In faltering winds, Frans was flawless, somehow getting the power and height on his moves to make sure the judges had no room for debate.
Frans was outstanding today - he sailed with passion, and always with a big smile on his face. His cool exterior can sometimes disguise the fact that he is unquestionably one of the best freestyle sailors in the World. After a great day on the water, he takes the coveted PWA Sailor of the Day award.
In the semi final, the sensation from Bonaire left Marcillo Browne (Fanatic/North Sails/MFC) in his wake, and left him with a shot against the world number one, Estredo.
The final was spectacular, both Frans and Estredo pulled of double and triple combination moves with speed and style as they went head to head. Frans continued to try his personal favorite, the forward-flaka, twice in the final but was unable to make the flaka rotation, therefore only scoring for a forward. In the end this was to be his downfall, as Estredo did enough to clinch the victory.
It was a close call for Gollito, but the results still stand. He and Offringa continue to dominate as we look ahead to the final three days of competition.
All in all, today’s action was inspiring. Having only the best sailors in the world compete just inches from the crowd was a true spectacle. It is rare that the action is this concentrated, and it was a great example of how incredible the sport can look. We hope that the wind will return tomorrow, so that we can continue the epic battle for 2009 PWA Fuerteventura Freestyle Grand Slam.
Join us again tomorrow for live event coverage, amazing photos and inspiring video footage, exclusively from www.pwaworldtour.com.
Steven Van Broeckhoven
Sarah Quita Offringa
Daida Ruano Moreno
Yoli Freites De Brendt