2001 Gran Canaria PWA Grand Slam Day 2
INSANE ACTION: BATTLE HAS COMMENCED!
The Gran Canaria, PWA Grand Slam launched into action today with a full single elimination of both men’s and women’s balls to the wall, radical freestyle! France’s Antoine Albeau (AHD, Neil Pryde) and Iballa Moreno (Mistral, North) from Spain, were both triumphant in their respective divisions.
Albeau, won the men’s final after a thrilling battle with Nik Baker from England. Albeau’s strength seemed to carry him through much of the day as he wrestled with spock 540’s, carving 360’s and massive jumps in the nuclear winds. Third place went to Josh Stone (JP, Neil Pryde) who fended off a strong challenge from Julian Taboulet (AHD, Neil Pryde) in the losers final.
Pozo resident Iballa Moreno fought her way through to the women’s final after beating her twin sister Daida (Mistral, North) in the semi’s. Iballa then brushed off a determined challenge from Antonia Frey (RRD) of Greece to take first blood on the opening day of battle. Diada Moreno (Mistral, North) had to settle for third after defeating Colette Guadagnino (JP, Neil Pryde) of Venezuela in the women’s losers final.
Sailors arrived at the beach this morning and were greeted by screaming winds but only 1-2 foot waves. Race director Klaus Michael, decided to opt for freestyle in light of a forecast which is predicting that we will have even stronger winds over the next few days.
Many are already saying that todays freestyle action is the most radical the PWA has ever seen! With winds blasting anywhere up to 40 knots most sailors were forced to use their smallest sails and were rarely fully under control. For many it was literally a matter of hanging on and hoping for the best. There was certainly no room for playing it conservative! It all boiled down to survival of the fittest and those with the balls to go for it!
Hot moves today included worm burners, clew first spocks, table top forwards, huge push loops and double forwards. Francisco Goya (Fanatic, Arrows) threw an amazingly high and contorted table top forward off the point which left many on the beach stunned. Goya has been concentrating his focus on waves however and eventually went down to Remko De Weerd (Gaastra, AHD) of Holland in the second round.
Vidar Jensen (North, Drops) pulled of several incredible clew first forwards alongside his normal array of tantalising jumps. The radical Norwegian made it all the way through to the semi's until eventually going down to a dazzling display from Josh Stone in the quarterfinals.
Albeau's road to the final included victories over, Web Pedrick (North, AHD), Kevin Pritchard (Gaastra, BIC) Matt Pritchard (Gaastra, AHD) and finally fellow French sailor Julian Taboulet in the semi’s. Nik Baker meanwhile had to overcome tough challenges from young Ricardo Campello (JP, Neil Pryde), Ben Van Der Steen (Fanatic, North), Richie Foster (Fanatic, Naish) and Josh Stone (JP, Pryde).
The battle between Baker and Richie Foster in the quarters was particularly close. Foster opened up the heat by screaming through a scintillating spock 540. Baker replied with a powerful wave ride, which produced several backside airs before a gauging frontside cutback. Both sailors seemed to be matching each other's moves and it all seemed deadlocked with seconds to go. Baker then produced a scorching clew first spock, which he somehow managed to whip round and hold onto in the midst of a 40-knot gust.
Baker continued on his roll and beat Stone in an electrifying semi. Meanwhile Albeau was counteracting the challenge of his fellow countryman Julian Taboulet. Taboulet was brave enough to bang out some massive table top forwards but his repertoire failed to match the variation of Albeau.
In the final Baker put out his strongest challenge but failed to hang on to his clew first spocks. Albeau pulled out all of his aces and nailed a spock diablo a massive push loop and a clean back loop. It was close but the judges gave it to Albeau with a 3-2 decision.
This is the first out of nine days of competition. Welcome to the battleground…Pozo is going off! Winds are expected to build. Sailors are already out of control on their smallest sails. There is only one word to describe the sailing if it blows any stronger…SURVIVAL!
ANTOINE ALBEAU (AHD, NEIL PRYDE)
"I am very happy. It was windy, I was on a 4.2m the wind must have been 35-40 knots. I like that sort of strength winds so it was OK for me! Sometimes it was a bit flat but there were a few waves for some jumps. It was great fun!"
NIK BAKER (MISTRAL, NORTH)
"Its blowing cats and dogs dude! It’s probably 35-40 knots. I was on a 3.4m pretty powered up. It is really hard doing freestyle in those winds. I managed to pull a few clew first spocks so I was pretty pleased with that. I have been using my wave board and wave sail, if I was sailing in a wave heat I would have been on exactly the same stuff! I was stoked to make the final, Antoine sailed well he is a big strong lad!"
IBALLA MORENO (MISTRAL, NORTH)
"I was on my 3.4m and pretty overpowered. I don’t have a smaller sail. I beat Toni in the final today but there is still a long way to go. I won against my sister; I tried a double loop and am pretty stoked about that! I did not make it but I tried it and I am happy. I had the balls to try a double, that was good!"
JOSH STONE (JP, NEIL PRYDE)
"This is the highest wind freestyle we have ever done! It’s going off man! There has been everything today, some serious rad-ass shit. Its going ballistic, I think this must be the most radical freestyle of all time"
MATT PRITCHARD (GAASTRA, AHD)
That was one hell of a freestyle day. I think everybody was completely out of control. We are busting out the moves, sometimes we make them and sometimes we don’t. It’s blowing 25-40 knots out there…its insane!"
RICH FOSTER (FANATIC, NAISH)
"I loved it out there. I had a good time, they were the windiest heats I have ever sailed in my life! By the end of the day I was maxed out on a 3.4m. trying to land a spock in those winds is bloody tough!"
BRIAN TALMA (F2, ARROWS)
"This is the windiest freestyle I have ever seen. The judges wanted to see tricks, not just jumping. I was on a 4.m but some people were on 3.7m and even smaller. We just came from Lake Garda which was really light straight into some real radical stuff"