Fuerteventura Grand Slam
Event Summary - Reigning World Champions, Antoine Albeau and Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo stamp their authority on their respective fleets after ten days of spectacular competition in Sotavento.
Rene Egli and his team hosted yet another outstanding PWA Grand Slam last week for the very special 25th Anniversary edition of the event, in which the modern day slalom legend from France, Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) claimed his fifth consecutive Fuerteventuran crown. And, the three times world freestyle champion from Venezuela, Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic, North) claimed not only his fourth title from the windy isle, but also secured the 2010 freestyle world title.
The slalom fleet were blessed with five days of world-class conditions off the beautiful white sands of Sotavento, allowing ten full rounds of action packed racing in winds of 10-30 kts. The variety of conditions kept the PWA’s elite slalom fleet on their toes with full quivers of sails being rigged throughout the week. 6.2s to 8.0s and small to medium sized boards were the norm guaranteeing an all round champion was crowned.
With so many races, consistency was key, but two discards did allow for a few mistakes. Throughout the week all of the top ten fell victim to their own errors. The mighty Albeau missed his boom, Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) fell foul to sailing on the course with a minute to go, and even former World Champion, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne) - who was the only sailor to qualify for every winner’s final - went over the start line early.
Tight At The Top
Plenty of mistakes ensured an exciting climax to the racing right up until the very last final. The current world champion, Albeau sailed fairly consistently throughout the week, but an explosive crash on day one forced a discard upon him. However, a perfect day two helped him climb the rankings, and consolidate his position at the top of the podium. And, a mixed bag on day four tightened things up, but the mighty Albeau remained on top. The final race of the event went without drama, or at least it did until Albeau’s nearest rival, Fininan Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) who had nothing to lose, handed it to the Frenchman by pushing too hard before the race began gaining himself a PMS in the process.
Maynard sailed extremely consistently throughout the week, rarely finishing out of the top 4, ensuring he was in a strong position to give it his best shot in the final race. And, a win on the penultimate day was the highlight of his week, proving to the world that he’s still a true contender.
Despite never finishing outside of the top 8, living legend Bjorn Dunkerbeck had a fairly inconsistent start to the event resulting in him playing catch up right from the word go. By day three he’d returned to form, and a win in the final race was enough to secure his position in third.
Missing out on the podium by just a few points, early event leader Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North) was always one to watch. A broken fin box in his medium board lost him his lead, and his return to form in the final race was just too late. A fourth for the Frenchman was fairly disappointing, but it does put him in good stead for a possible end of year podium position.
Stand Out Performers
Twenty-year-old French racer, Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic, North) showed moments of excellence throughout the week, with his best result being a third in the winner’s final of the first race on day two. Competing at this level against the seasoned pros at such a young age surely makes him one to watch. And, can only bode well for his future windsurfing career.
Another French sailor to step up their game this week was Pascal Toselli (RRD). Despite not making the winner’s finals, he consistently crept through to the loser’s, and many world tour pundits think he’s yet to reach his full potential. With a few more events under his belt, we could see him challenging the old guard.
The sailor laying claim to the best starts throughout the week was Danish racer Kasper Larsen (Starboard, NeilPryde). Not only did he fly out of the starting blocks race after race, on one occasion he managed to hold off a charge from the mighty Albeau in a nail biting final leg, preventing the world champion from going any further than the second round in race nine.
Italian, Alberto Menegatti (Starboard, Simmer) finished the week on a high with a third place finish in the loser’s final. If he can perform like that at the next few events his ranking will improve and he’ll break through to the next level.
Results After Ten Races
1st Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) 15.5pts
2nd Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) 21.7pts
3rd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne, Mystic) 26.4pts
4th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North) 28.7pts
5th Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine) 44pts
6th Ross Williams (Tabou, Gaastra) 51pts
7th Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde) 55.7pts
8th Ben Van Der Steen (JP, Mystic) 61pts
9th Steve Allen (Starboard, Severne) 66pts
10th Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North) 93.5pts
Overall Rankings After Three Events
Reigning PWA slalom world champion, Antoine Albeau has moved one step closer to yet another world title after claiming victory in the 25th Anniversary Fuerteventura Grand Slam, and moves ahead of archrival Bjorn Dunkerbeck. A solid set of Results sees Micah Buzianis in third. And, both Maynard and Moussilmani have climbed the ranks with their excellent results in Sotavento.
1st Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde)
2nd Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne, Mystic)
3rd Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde)
4th Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra)
5th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North)
After a disappointing first day for the freestylers, the wind returned with full force for the remainder of the competition, allowing two full double eliminations to be completed. With gusts of over 30 kts the guys tricked it up on equipment as small as their 90L boards and 4.0m sails, adding another dimension to the huge variety of conditions found on this year’s world tour already.
The level of sailing went through the roof in Sotavento with countless sailors raising their game heat after heat in a display of the latest freestyle wizardry. Scoring highly with the judges were double or triple combination moves such as scopus, bongkas, and spock culos. And, when the swell arrived, big air moves such as double forwards, push loops, back loops, and one handed goitas were also looked on favourably.
Following a victory in Lanzarote weeks earlier, the three times world champion, Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo opened up his quest for another crown in fine style in Fuertventura nailing spock culos with ease to dominate every heat and claim the first single elimination ahead of 2009 vice world champion, Kiri Thode (Starboard, Gaastra).
Thode Steals The Show
The undisputed kono king, Thode fought off a challenge from the 2010 Podersdorf champion, Taty Frans (Starboard, MauiSails, Mystic) in the first double elimination allowing him the chance to battle it out with Estredo for the top spot. Thode continued to compete at the highest possible standard landing all of his tricks with his own unique style, whereas Estredo had crashed almost every move. With a couple of minutes still to go, Estredo sailed off into the distance and back to the beach to conserve his energy for the inevitable heat 52 (only sailed when the current winner gets beaten in the double).
Needless to say, the second battle for first double elimination honours wasn’t such a walk in the park for Thode. Estredo bounced back into action scoring masses of style points with the judges, but what he didn’t realise was that Thode was having an awesome heat too throwing his trademark konos, and huge air flakas. It went right to the wire, but Thode just took it to take the top spot after the first double elimination.
Gollito Bounces Back
The three times world champion and current tour leader, Estredo reaffirmed his dominance on the penultimate day of competition by taking down Belgian boy wonder, Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2, Gaastra) in an epic second single elimination showdown.
Estredo burst into his heat with a solid display of stunning trickery. Most impressively though, after launching around a myriad of flips and spins, he flung himself upside down with a tweaked push loop off the smallest piece of chop. It may not be the most difficult trick in the book, but to land it fully planing on near flat water is nothing short of a miracle! He then backed it up with more of the latest power freestyle moves to make sure he took down Broeckhoven.
Double Trouble… But Not For Gollito
Despite the final day of competition determining whether or not Estredo had done enough to secure his fourth world title with an event to spare, the day actually belonged to the born and bred styler from Bonaire, Tonky Frans (F2, Gaastra) who inadvertently handed Estredo the crown.
After going out the previous day to an on form Broeckhoven, Tonky was fired up and ready to fight his way back through the fleet on the last day of competition. Luckily for him, the conditions were fully firing too with some small swell lines creating the ultimate airtime playground. Tonky’s huge push loops, and awesome bongkas helped him to battle his way past freestyle’s finest including Anthony Ruenes (Tabou, Vandal), Aruban hotshot Quincy Offringa (Starboard), and Leo Ray (Naish, Naish), before taking the scalp off both his brother Taty, and fellow Bonairean Thode.
Tonky’s rampage through the fleet was finally halted by ‘Pop’ superstar, Broeckhoven. However, by taking out both Taty and Thode, Tonky had not only given Estredo an easy win in Fuerteventura, but he’d also helped him to secure the crown for the year!
Estredo didn’t actually need to sail the second double elimination final to win the event, but being the ultimate sportsman that he is, went out anyway and put on an amazing show for the crowds. Estredo claimed victory ahead of Broeckhoven, but it was his hard work in the two single eliminations that really won him his fourth title in Fuerteventura.
Results After Two Double Eliminations
1st Jose “Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic, North) 2.7pts
2nd Kiri Thode (Starboard, Gaastra) 4.7pts
3rd Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2, Gaastra) 7pts
4th Tonky Frans (F2, Gaastra) 7pts
5th Taty Frans (Starboard, MauiSails, Mystic) 8pts
6th Leo Ray (Naish, Naish) 12pts
Life Through A Lens
As well as the awesome daily clips which can be found on our website, former world champion, Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine) captured plenty of behind the scenes footage from the freestyle. Follow the links here to watch part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7 and part 8.
Overall Rankings After Three Events
Three times world champion, Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo will be adding a fourth PWA world title to his trophy cabinet in Sylt having secured it with an event to spare this year. The remaining spots on the podium remain wide open with Kiri Thode, Steven Van Broeckhoven, Taty Frans, and Tonky Frans all capable of claiming second.
1st Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic, North)
2nd Kiri Thode (Starboard, Gaastra)
3rd Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2, Gaastra)
4th Tonky Frans (F2, Gaastra)
5th Nicolas Akgazciyan (Starboard, Gun)
Following on from the action in Fuerteventura, Starboard have consolidated their position at the top of the hotly contested board brand rankings, and NeilPryde have overtaken North to take the top slot in the sail brand category for now.
The PWA World Tour moves on to Alacati, Turkey for the Pegasus Airlines World Cup where we’ll witness some more fast and furious racing with both the men’s and women’s fleets competing from 9th August through to the 14th. Be sure to check out www.pwaworldtour.com for live coverage, and daily updates from the event.