The PWA Aloha Classic Presented by JP Australia - Day 1
Competition favourites hold firm at Ho’okipa leaving it all to play for in the Hawaiian surf.
A typical Maui day greeted the competitors and spectators on the first day of this, the 21st Aloha Classic to be held at Ho’okipa Beach Park on the North Shore of Maui. Beautiful sunshine, warm Easterly trade-winds and solid logo-high waves allowed competition to begin right on schedule at 12:30.
After a year of tough competition on the PWA World Tour, the title race has come down to this last event with the top 5 competitors, namely Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails), Kauli Seadi (Quatro / Naish), Josh Angulo, Nik Baker (Mistral / North Sails) and Victor Fernandez Lopez (Fanatic / Simmer Style) all realistically in the running for the coveted Wave World Title.
It will by no means be plain sailing for any of these top ranked sailors though as they will have to battle it out with extremely talented local sailors and Ho’okipa legends such as Jason Polakow (JP / NeilPryde) and Francisco Goya, who are all hungry for the glory that comes with winning this most hallowed of windsurfing events.
There were no major upsets in the competition today, which ran up until heat 14, when the event had to be abandoned for the day to allow the local surfers the last hour of sunlight to enjoy the beautiful waves.
Ex-Maui local Angulo, who now hails from Cabo Verde, demonstrated clearly that he still has his trademark power and wave knowledge that can only come through years of sailing at Ho’okipa. Impressing the judges with his stylish one-handed aerials and powerful cutbacks in the lightest of winds, he easily won his heat, making his way into the next round where he will face the next two generations of Ho’okipa rippers, Levi Siver (Starboard / NeilPryde), Kai Lenny (Naish / Naish) and Baptiste Gossein (JP / NeilPryde). Kai is just 14 years old and made waves today by beating Kevin Ponichtera and John Skye. This will certainly be a heat to watch with a lot of pride at stake for these four incredibly talented local sailors.
Also on fine form was last years’ Aloha Classic winner Alex Mussolini (JP / NeilPryde) whose light weight allowed him to move around quickly and notch up lots of high scoring waves. He easily won his heat, impressing the judges with high, stylish aerials. Joining him in the next heat is 2006 Slalom and Super-X world champion Antoine Albeau (Starboard / NeilPryde), showing that he is a fantastic windsurfer on any equipment, anywhere in the world.
All the main contenders for the world title remain in the competition so far as we boil down to the last three heats of the single elimination. Still to sail are Seadi, Baker and Polakow so we are sure to be treated to some outstanding performances tomorrow morning.
On completion of the men’s first round, the women will take to the ocean with the almost unbeatable Daida Moreno (Mistral / North) looking to fend off challenges from not only her PWA rivals - namely sister Iballa (Mistral / North Sails), Karin Jaggi (F2 / North Sails) and Junko Nagoshi (F2 / Simmer), but also the undeniable Ho’okipa talent such as Jennifer Henderson and Motoko Sato (Quatro).
Will the energy and style of the young Seadi let him hold onto his 2005 World Title or will it be the years of experience and Ho’okipa knowledge that see Kevin Pritchard, Josh Angulo or Nik Baker through to the number one spot? Will the dominance of the Moreno family hold true for another year?
Keep tuned into www.pwaworldtour.com for up to the minute reports as the Title Race heats up.