2011 Vietnam PWA Grand Slam
After waiting patiently for Mui Ne’s thermal wind to kick in, the double elimination roared into action shortly after one o’clock on day two. Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra) had proven himself the man to beat after securing victory in the previous day’s single elimination, leaving him the task of defending his position when a challenger arrived through the double.
In conditions mirroring the single elimination, competition got underway in a steady 25 knot cross onshore breeze, with moderate sized chop over most of the sailing area. First to mount their attack on Thode’s thrown was Israel’s Yarden Meir (Fanatic / Simmer), who looked defiant as he toppled Tilo Eber (JP / NeilPryde) and Russian heavy weight Yegor Popretinskiy (JP / NeilPryde) before finally succumbing to the skills of Canadian Philip Soltysiak (Starboard / Dakine), and settling for a well deserved ninth position in the double elimination.
On the opposite side of the draw, Anthony Ruenes (Tabou / Simmer) bulldozed his way through his opposition with some stunningly executed moves, leaving Arthur Pollet, Max Rowe (Fanatic / North) and Davy Scheffers (Tabou / Gaastra) in his wake before conceding to European Champion, Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2 / Gaastra). Ruenes’ run meant he settled in seventh position, an impressive come back after bowing out in the second round of the single elimination.
With Soltysiak falling at the hands of Dieter Van Der Eyken (Severne / Starboard), there was an all Belgium showdown as Van Der Eyken went on to face compatriot Van Broeckhoven. The super charged heat went down in testing conditions, and despite Van Der Eyken’s spell of form, he could not match the impressive magnitude Van Broeckhoven was exerting in his moves. Van Broeckhoven advanced to take on Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra), meaning the final heats of the double elimination would be a carbon copy of the previous day's heats.
The sailing standard had been impressive through out the day, but the Tonky Frans vs Van Broeckhoven stand-off would raise the bar to dizzying new heights. The pair put on a freestyle master-class of culos, ponch 360s and konos in a heat that had the judging panel’s work cut out. Sadly for Van Broeckhoven he couldn’t make amends for his previous day’s loss to Frans, and for the second time he fell to the Bonaire style maestro.
So once again, there was to be a Frans vs Frans showdown. From the beach Tonky was the more polished of the sailors, but Taty (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic) proved to be the more competition savvy, filling out his score sheet with a mix of both aerial and sliding moves that trumped his sibling’s styled out, but ultimately less calculated efforts.
Taty moved on to try and avenge Estredo (Fanatic / North) for his previous day’s loss. The heat started badly for Frans, who failed to stick a clean move for the first couple of minutes. In the meantime, Estredo was methodically working through his routine, and filling out his score sheet on both tacks. Frans’ nerves soon subsided though, and he stuck some stellar moves, including a super technical double spock on the outside, but it was too little too late, and Estredo once again stole the victory from his grasp.
That left a familiar final of Thode, the previous day’s winner, versus Estredo, the reigning World Champion. From the outset, Thode threw down with venom in his moves. Kicking off with a burner, followed by a huge air flaka and then a sickeningly perfect air bob, Estredo had a challenge on his hands to match the Bonaire local. In response, Estredo stuck a no handed air flaka, one handed air funnel 360 and a burner. It was always going to be a close call, and when move of the day and arguably the competition so far went to Thode, for an epic fully planing Kono landed onto the face of a rolling swell, it sealed Estredo’s fait. Despite a super close heat, Thode took the win, and in turn the double elimination victory with a unanimous 5-0 judging decision.
Event standings after day 2
1st Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra)
2nd Jose Estredo (Fanatic / North)
3rd Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic)
4th Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra)
5th Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2 / Gaastra)
Tomorrow’s skippers meeting is scheduled for 11.00am local time (GMT +7), with the second single elimination commencing shortly afterwards. Keep up to date with every piece of the action @ www.pwaworldtour.com
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