Fuerteventura Grand Slam
After a fantastic fortnight in Fuerteventura, the PWA World Tour can reflect on another year of success in the Canary Islands. The incredible Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) dominated the slalom event, securing his fourth event win, whilst Jose ’Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic/North Sails/MFC) and Sara-Quita Offringa (Starboard/NeilPryde) took top honors in the freestyle event.
The opening five days hosted the slalom event, which culminated in quite possibly the best race that has ever been seen on the PWA Circuit. When the sailors entered the event, the Overall rankings were incredibly close, and it was all to play for.
Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) flew out of the blocks with a fantastic start. On the opening day, he stormed through the pack to win three out of the four races. The wind never dropped below 30 knots, and the great Frenchman used all his strength to his advantage, charging past his world-class contenders with ease.
His victory was well-deserved, and nothing came easy for the defending champion, who had to fight his way from the back of the fleet after a number of gybe-mark tangles. In one instance, he showed such speed that he made his way from eighth to second in two reaches, overtaking four sailors in a flat out speed battle.
After such consistency by Albeau, the event soon turned into a battle for the podium positions. Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) took charge, with a string of excellent results, including a victory in the penultimate heat. Maynard is famous for his blistering speed, and he did not disappoint, often leading the race from the start line.
His main contender throughout the event was the incredibly talented Kevin Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra/Dakine), whose steady nerve and well-honed tactics have proven to be so successful in the past. Pritchard took a win in race six, where he out sailed the entire fleet. The battle between Pritchard and Maynard never went further than a couple of points difference, however a poor result in the final race confirmed a third place position for the American, and allowed Maynard to slip through to second.
Always in the running, the great Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard/North Sails) continued to pressurize the fleet with his relentless ability to make his way into the elite top few. Continuing to rise in the overall rankings, Moussilmani will be focusing on a solid performance in the lighter winds of Turkey to help him into the overall top five.
Micah Buzianis (JP/NeilPryde), Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra), Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) and Josh Angulo (Angulo/MauiSails/Dakine) all took prestigious race wins here. Each of these sailors showed glimmers of excellence throughout the event. Speed was no problem, as all four often blasted through the pack, but to win an event as grueling as this, nothing but the best will ever be rewarded, and ultimately it was their consistency that let them down.
Drama struck on the third day, after Josh Angulo (Angulo/MauiSails/Dakine) was catapulted on the finish line in his semi final. Angulo had led the fleet from the start boat, and was about to cross the finish when disaster struck. Just inches from the line, Angulo catapulted and crossed without his kit, and was therefore disqualified. Understandably, the Cabo Verde local was livid, and harsh words were exchanged on the beach. However, the decision stood, and he was forced into the loser’s final. This result affected his overall position quite noticeably, as Angulo otherwise looked on form here. The current number one in the waves will have to put all this behind him, as he looks ahead to the remainder of the year.
Williams entered the event in second place overall, but nerves got the better of the talented Brit in the opening races. Two poor performances mounted the pressure on him from the start, which meant that he would not have any more discards throughout the event. In the end, he did well to keep a cool head, and finish the remaining races in the top ten, setting him up with a chance for glory in the season’s remaining events.
Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails) had another outstanding performance, as too did Patrick Diethelm (F2/North Sails), Arnon Dagan (Tabou/Gaastra) and Ben Van Der Steen (Exocet/Simmer Style). Throughout the week, these racers pushed hard, and were unlucky not to finish higher up the ranks. In every competition, luck can have a profound affect on the results, and these three all suffered from broken equipment, unintended collisions, or unforced catapults.
Greatly improved performances by Sylvain Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style), Benoit Moussilmani (Starboard/Simmer Style), Robby Swift (JP/NeilPryde) and Diony Guadagnino (AHD/Hot Sails Maui/MFC) saw all three young flyers making it through to the finals. All four of these sailors looked solid in both Pozo and in Fuerteventura, and they will be glad to have another events experience under their belt.
The slalom contest came to an end on a dramatic high. In the final race of the event, the wind switched to an intense off shore gale, allowing a new course to be raced. In the new layout, the start line and opening reach was set just meters off the shoreline, so the spectators could see every ounce of action on the water incredibly close to the beach.
This set-up provided an astonishing spectacle, and Albeau’s 15ft victory jump over the boat was a fitting end to the racing. The intimacy of the racecourse, and the style in which the Champion claimed his victory, will have sealed the race in the minds of all the spectators who were lucky enough to be there.
The freestyle fleet was put to the test over an intense competition that was compacted into a two-day extravaganza. The five-day event was cut short after a 45-degree heat wave dominated the Canaries, bringing an end to the wind, and forcing the contestants to accept the result after just one double elimination.
THE SINGLE ELIMINATION
In the single, the highlights in the earlier rounds came in the form of Andre Paskowski (Fanatic/North Sails), Norman Günzlein (JP/NeilPryde), Leo Ray (Naish/Naish/MFC) and Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2/MauiSails) who sailed brilliantly. Paskowski in particular had a very tight battle with Yegor Popretinskiy (JP/NeilPryde/MFC), whose aggressive sailing style has made him stand out in the pre-event warm up sessions. Eventually Paskowski’s consistency and powerful style was enough to let him clinch the win.
Tonky Frans (F2/Gaastra) stole the show in the semi final, with his massive moves getting the crowd to their feet. Frans was the first sailor to land a pushloop, as well as his amazing new move – the forward-flaka. Against Frans, the number two in the World, Kiri Thode (Starboard/Gaastra) at times looked amazing, but he never rose to the heights that we saw in Lanzarote, and Frans waited for the double elimination in third place.
The battle for the top spot saw the 2008 World Champion, Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic/North Sails/MFC) take on Marcillo Browne (Fanatic/North Sails/MFC) in a nail biting final. Both sailors had been fantastic, passing the excellent Kenneth Danielsen (RRD/Simmer Style/MFC) and Ian Mouro Lemos (JP/NeilPryde), amongst others, on the way through.
Gollito opened with an incredible combination of a shaka, and air flaka and his trademark one-handed ponch. Browne followed with a succession of incredibly tricky stunts, but fell on his opening moves. He soon recovered to nail an impressive air chacho, and one handed air funnel. The result was a clear decision, and Estredo took his first win at the Fuerteventura contest.
The women’s single elimination was an intense competition, headed by the wondrous Sarah Quita Offringa. There was a huge sense of pressure throughout the fleet, as all the competitors knew that the results here would determine the overall world rankings. All eyes were on the teenage sensation from Aruba as she set out on her quest to take her second consecutive PWA World Title.
Never one to disappoint, Offringa took the opening round by storm. Busting out all of the latest moves with an effortless style. She landed flakas, konos and beautiful switch spocks to claim the first victory. Her technical superiority in this discipline was evident throughout all her heats, especially when she was pushed to the wire by an on-form Daida Ruano Moreno (North Sails) in the final.
Moreno received a huge cheer for her perfect one-handed ponch, which was her best move of the contest. However, it was not enough to match Offringa’s freestyle trickery, and she had to wait for the double in second place. The Canarian super star and had been sailing well all day, passing the excellent Nayra Alonso (Fanatic/Severne) and her talented twin, Iballa Moreno (North Sails) on her way through to the final.
Yoli Freites De Brendt (Fanatic/North Sails) was on great form, opening each of her heats with full-speed flakas and punetas. De Brendt passed the super-talented Junko Nagoshi (Tabou/Simmer Style/Dakine) after a great heat, and then progressed to beat Iballa Ruano Moreno in the loser’s final.
Laure Treboux (Fanatic/North Sails) took an injury to her hand after a close heat with Iballa Moreno, which left her out of the contest earlier than she would have liked, and unable to compete in the double.
THE DOUBLE ELIMINATION
Split over two days, the double elimination gave the sailors a chance to improve their early positions in slightly lighter winds.
Taty Frans (Starboard/MauiSails), Andraz Zan (RRD/Loft Sails), Leo Ray (Naish/Naish/MRD), Quincy Offringa (Starboard/Severne) and Davy Scheffers (Tabou/Gaastra) were among the standout performers in the early stages of the double, whilst Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard/Hot Sails Maui) and Phillip Soltysiak (Starboard/Dakine) also sailed excellently.
These new talents are the rising stars of the fleet, and the experience that they have gained here will be key to their development as world-class professionals. Scheffers in particular caught many people’s attention: always first on the water, and busting high, fast moves, he will surely be one to watch.
Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2/MauiSails) made the most impressive headway in the double elimination, sailing in six grueling back-to-back heats. Going head to head with Philip Soltysiak (Starboard/Dakine), Andre Paskowski, Taty Frans (Starboard/MauiSails), and Kiri Thode (Starboard/Gaastra), the young European confirmed his place amongst the world’s elite.
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 incredible throughout the event, and he will go down in windsurfing’s history as one of the key characters of the current generation. A true showman, Tonky always competes with a smile on his face, and playing up to his adoring crowd.
In the semi final, Frans took on Marcillo Browne (Fanatic/North Sails/MFC), and sailed the heat of a lifetime. Browne was unlucky to be pushed down wind in the early stages of the heat, and in the variable conditions, he looked underpowered in the lighter area of the course. No love was lost between the two, as Frans left him in his wake, and set up to take 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.
In the women’s heats, Junko Nagoshi (Tabou/Simmer Style/Dakine) stood out against a solid performance by Anna Maria Zollet. Nagoshi continued to climb through the ranks 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.
Meanwhile, a determined Nayra Alonso (Fanatic/Severne) was sailing brilliantly on the other side of the ladder, with slick grubbys and spock 540s adding to her great heats. Alonso beat Olga Raskina (JP/NeilPryde/MFC), and then took on Nagoshi. In her best heat of the event so far, Alonso sailed excellently, and went on to pass the excellent Japanese competitor, as well as Iballa Ruano Moreno (North Sails), in a great run into the top four.
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.
Next, it was Daida Ruano Moreno’s (North Sails) turn to impress, as she turned all of her skills against De Brendt, winning the close battle. Moreno looked as though she could pose a serious threat to Offringa landing flakas, punetas and ponches.
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.
With the double elimination under her belt, Offringa was crowned the 2009 PWA Women’s Freestyle World Champion for the second year in succession. This incredible achievement is made even more unbelievable when we look back to see that she has not lost a heat since her debut on the PWA. We offer Sarah our warmest congratulations.
The next event in the PWA Calendar is the Pegasus Airlines slalom in Alaçati, Turkey that kicks off on the 10th August. As always we will have exclusive live coverage, incredible photos, and amazing videos. Make sure you tune in to www.pwaworldtour.com to follow the amazing action.
Steven Van Broeckhoven
Daida Ruano Moreno
Yoli Freites De Brendt