FUERTEVENTURA PWA GRAND SLAM
Event Preview: 9 days of frantic slalom and explosive freestyle coming up
From the 25th of July to the 2nd August Fuerteventura will be returning to the forefront of the windsurfing world, as the world’s fastest sailors prepare for their third instalment of warp speed slalom, whilst the freestyle elite prepare for their second battle of the season.
The opening five days of this years event will belong to the slalom sailors as they return to Fuerteventura’s beautiful shores after last years absence, whilst the final four days will see the freestylers take centre stage once more.
Sotavento is located on the Southeast coast of Fuerteventura and has developed a world-class reputation over the years due to its year round sunshine, stunning golden beaches and most importantly its consistently nuclear winds, which create some of the most exhilarating conditions on the PWA World Tour. The slalom sailors will be reaching for their smallest equipment as they prepare to have their mettle tested by the Fuerteventura wind machine, whilst the freestylers will be taking full advantage of the perfect stunt ramps, which roll into Sotavento to launch into their latest explosive manoeuvres.
Slalom - Men’s
Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne) currently sits proudly at the top of the world rankings having finished second in Costa Brava, before sharing joint first in Turkmenistan. The fiery Frenchman is showing the ballistic speed and consistency to challenge for the top and he’ll be fighting for the podium once more here. Moussilmani usually excels in Fuerteventura’s tricky conditions and he finished 5th here last time around in 2012.
Fellow Frenchman Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) sits just behind Moussilmani, for the time being, in second place. The young Frenchman is one of the brightest emerging talents on the PWA Slalom World Tour and he’ll be looking to continue his fine start to the season with more perfectly timed starts and textbook gybing.
Reigning world champion Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) suffered a first round exit in Turkmenistan, having jumped the gun in his opening heat, and with no further eliminations being completed the Frenchman slipped to 25th overall in the rankings after winning the opening event of the year. However, we can expect to see Albeau firing on all cylinders again as he revels in the howling winds to blow the rest of the competition away and start his climb back up the world rankings.
Arch nemesis Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Chris Benz / Dunkerbeck Eyewear) finds himself in a similar position, but the terminator will be ready for battle once more in Fuerteventura. The most decorated sailor in windsurfing history is still one of the quickest men in the world and he will be keen to stamp his authority once more over the coming five days. Expect to see Dunkerbeck challenging for the top.
Italy’s Matteo Iachino (Fanatic / North), Great Britain’s Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails), Australia’s Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne) and Bonaire’s very own Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) currently occupy third to sixth respectively and will be battling for the top ten and beyond.
Finian Maynard (RRD / Avanti) won the event here in 2012 and he’ll be a major threat again, as will flying Dutchman Ben Van Der Steen (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic), last year’s vice-world champion Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7), Pascal Toselli (Starboard / Point-7) and Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails). You can also expect to see a strong performance from Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) who finished third overall last year. Of course there are many other top sailors who will be challenging for the overall top ten such is the competitiveness on the slalom tour right now.
Freestyle - Men’s
Reigning PWA Freestyle World Champion - Kiri Thode (Starboard / GA Sails) - made the perfect start to his title defence in his homeland of Bonaire in June and he’ll be hoping to add another victory to his list here as he goes in search of back-to-back world titles. Thode pushed Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / North / MFC) all the way in Fuerteventura last year and we are sure to see another epic battle.
Five-time PWA Freestyle World Champion - Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo - will be aiming to complete a famous hat-trick of title events having won here in 2012 and ’13 respectively. The Venezuelan usually excels in Fuerte as he takes full advantage of the stunt ramps on offer to launch into a mind boggling array of moves. Expect to see Gollito pushing hard for the top as he looks to put the disappointment of missing out on the podium in the first event of the year behind him.
Steven Van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde) made a strong start to the season - finishing second - and the Belgian maestro will be eager to continue in the same vein of form as he goes in search of his first world title since 2011. The King of pop possesses all the necessary tools to challenge for top honours and we are sure to see an intriguing battle over the four days of competition.
Amado Vrieswijk (Starboard / Severne) will be full of confidence after achieving his first ever finish on the prestigious podium in Bonaire. Vrieswijk, who is still only eighteen years old, is already proving that he is one of the most dangerous men on tour and he’ll be one to watch very carefully over the next few days, as will fellow Bonairean’s Tonky Frans (Tabou / GA Sails), Taty Frans, Youp Schmit (JP / Avanti) and Bjorn Saragoza).
Freestyle wizards Dieter van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne) and Anthony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails) are two sailors who usually thrive in Fuerteventura and they will undoubtedly be challenging for the top five and beyond come the end of the contest.
Both Davy Scheffers (Tabou / GA Sails) and Phil Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks) should be back to full fitness after suffering injuries prior and during the event respectively. Scheffers’ has struggled slightly in Fuerteventura’s challenging conditions in the last couple of years and will be desperate to break into top ten for the first time since 2011 here. Meanwhile, Soltysiak should be a sure fire bet for the top ten as long as he is back to full fitness.
Freestyle - Women’s
With six PWA Freestyle World titles to her name and an amazing unbeaten record spanning those six years, Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Mystic / Chris Benz / Maui Ultra Fins) enters the event as the undoubted favourite. The Queen of freestyle looked even more impressive in the first freestyle event of the season, landing power moves on both tacks and it will take a super human performance to beat here.
A new talent truly emerged in Bonaire as sixteen year old Maaike Huvermann (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) stormed to second place overall. The youth freestyle world champion wowed the crowds and the judges with her array of stylish and unbelievably consistent moves to cause a few upsets and she’ll be looking to continue her rich vein of form.
PWA Freestyle Vice-World Champion - Arrianne Aukes (RRD / Simmer / Maui Ultra Fins) made a solid start to the season as she completed the podium, but she’ll be hoping to do even better in Fuerteventura. Aukes is as consistent as anyone in the choppy waters and the Dutch gem will be aiming to reestablish her position in the top two come the end of the contest.
Oda Johanne (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) will be full of confidence coming into the second event of the season having achieved her best finish to date on the PWA World Tour - fourth. Johanne will be launching into flakas, shakas and switch konos as she goes in search of her first podium finish.
Venezuela’s hugely experienced and talented Yoli de Brendt (Fanatic / North) will also be one to watch carefully as will Olya Raskina (JP / NeilPryde) and Maxime van Gent (Fanatic / North / Maui Ultra Fins).
Don't miss any of the incredible action over the next nine days by tuning into www.pwaworldtour.com where you'll be able to follow the event live via the PWA live stream and live ticker. Who's your money on for the slalom and freestyle titles?