Red Bull Storm Rider 2006
The winds were howling, the waves were pounding and the action was world class at Bat Galim beach, Haifa, Israel for the fifth edition of the Red Bull Storm Rider Classic. For the first time this year, the contest has gained the PWA qualifier status. Twenty-five of Israel's leading wave sailors, including PWA regulars Arnon Dagan (ISR-1, Fanatic/ Neil Pryde) and Eyal Shelef (ISR-43, Quatro/ Neil Pryde) were joined by six more PWA sailors as well as Lee Kurzitv, Israel's own female windsurfing star and ex-IMCO world champion. The contest was on hold for nine days and while waiting for the right conditions, Cyril Moussilmani (F-71, Fanatic/ North Sails), Ben Van der Steen (NED-57, Neil Pryde), Kevin Mevissen (H-79, JP/ Neil Pryde), Andrea Rosati (I-0, Neil Pryde), Tine Slabe (SLO-6, F2) and Franck Bernklau enjoyed Israel's sunny winter and Haifa's raging night life.
When the forecast showed a heavy front rolling in from the middle of the Mediterranean for Wednesday the 8th of February, the date was set and the crew started making all the preparations. A team of local judges was assembled, headed by PWA head judge Duncan Coombs. Skippers’ meeting was held at 9:15 with the first heat starting at 10:30, two jumps and two wave rides counting. The wind was a gusty and side-offshore between 25-35 knots and the waves were building up slowly. The first round saw no major upsets- except from Arnon Dagan- local hero and a one of the favorites to win here - landing badly and hurting his ankle. Despite his injury he managed to do enough against local sailor Alon Kaplan and advanced to the second round. Meanwhile the wind backed down a little, but the wave size was increasing. The large crowd assembled on the beach watched and cheered for the local hotshots such as Gadi Meets, Amit Mekel and Ori Dagan, but in the end of round two the only non-PWA sailor remaining in the game was local boy and previous winner Adi Zomer. The first quarter-final saw Andrea Rosati (I-0, Neil Pryde) battle against Arnon Dagan (ISR-1, Fanatic/ Neil Pryde) and Tine Slabe (SLO-6, F2) taking on Eyal Shelef (ISR-43, Quatro/ Neil Pryde). Dagan and Shelef both used their local knowledge of the spot to advance to the semi-final. The second quarter final was a showdown between Dutch sailors Ben van der Steen (NED-57, Neil Pryde) and Kevin Mevissen (H-79, JP/ Neil Pryde) and Frenchie Cyril Moussilmani (F-71, Fanatic/ North Sails). After an action packed heat Moussilmani and Van der Steen advanced to the semis.
In the semi-finals Dagan was not holding back an inch despite his ankle injury, landing the biggest move of the day- a massive, vertical and super late pushloop. Shelef put in some nice wave rides, but Dagan answered with two quality wave rides that paved his way to the final. In the second semi-final it was Van der Steen who was more in tune with the conditions- landing a big backloop and smacking some solid lips to beat Moussilmani.
In the losers’ final it was Moussilmani's experience in port tack conditions that gave him the edge over starboard tack specialist Shelef. The final had everyone standing and shouting, as the top two players went out for one last time. Dagan started with a good sized wave, but missed out on his landing in a late aerial. Meanwhile Van der Steen was racking up points with a backloop and a high stalled forward. Dagan answered with a huge delayed forward, but was obviously struggling with too small a sail and couldn't get enough speed for a backloop or a pushloop he badly needed. Van der Steen sealed the heat with a long wave, milking it with countless turns and smacks to earn maximum points. At the end of the heat both sailors were hailed by the ecstatic crowds who gave them a standing ovation. Despite finishing in second place at his home beach, Dagan seemed happy enough: "For me this event is like a dream come true. To sail at my home beach with my friends from the PWA and the local gang is something I could only dream of a few months ago. The beach is in danger of destruction by real estate entrepreneurs, but all the sailors have put in a lot of hard work, and, with the help of the PWA we hope that the beach will get its proper recognition as a world class wave sailing spot".
Next up on the PWA calendar is Hookipa Beach, Maui for the first wave world cup of the 2006 season. Stay tuned to www.pwaworldtour.com for more information on this and other PWA events.
Check out all the information on Bat Galim Beach HERE