Mercedes-Benz Sylt PWA Super Grand Slam
It’s time for the biggest event on the calendar with the Mercedes-Benz PWA Super Grand Slam taking place between the 29th September - 8th October and it promises to be an enthralling 10 days with 3 world titles on the line - Men’s and Women’s Wave and Men’s Freestyle - while the Men’s Slalom title heads towards its climax in their penultimate event of the year. Meanwhile, if that’s not enough already we’ll also be bringing you the 3rd foil exhibition of the season.
Some say that variety is the spice of life and in this sense, Sylt never disappoints as you never quite know what to expect — thanks to the huge variation of conditions that this wonderful island can produce. In strong onshore winds, a colossal shore break develops — ready to crush the hopes of any unsuspecting competitors — along with powerful waves of up to three or four meters in size, which provide amazing wave sailing conditions, whilst producing a real challenge for the slalom and freestyle fleets. On the other hand, Sylt can also produce great racing and freestyle conditions, when offshore winds grace the island with their presence, although it can then be bitterly cold. One thing is for sure, to win here you need to be the complete all rounder who is willing to have their mettle tested to breaking point.
Ones to Watch
Title Race Connotations
The 2017 Women’s PWA World Championship title race looks like it will come down to a straight fight between reigning world champion and current world tour leader - Iballa Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) - and her sister Daida Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins), who has thankfully recovered from her injury sustained in Tenerife, to compete in the last event of the year. As things stand there are just 10 points between the legendary twins, so it will basically come down to who gains the better result over the next 10 days. In the event that Daida was to beat Iballa by one place then the twins would be tied on points, but Daida would win the title on tiebreak.
Mathematically speaking it is still possible for Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) to win the world title, but in reality that would seem nigh on impossible as Iballa would have to finish 6th or worse and Daida finish 4th or worse followed by Offringa winning the event.
So it looks like the Moreno twins will occupy the top two in the world for the women again, but 3rd place is still up for grabs. At the moment Offringa is leading the race to defend her place on the overall podium from last year, but Germany’s very own Lina Erpenstein (Patrik / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) and Poland’s Justyna Sniady (Simmer / Simmer / Mystic) are firmly in contention.
Put simply, if Offringa finishes ahead of Erpenstein and Sniady then she will finish 3rd overall for 2017, but if either Erpenstein or Sniady finish ahead of Offringa then whoever gains the better result, out of the German and the Pole, will secure 3rd place.
*In the event that either Erpenstein or Sniady finish 1 place ahead of Offringa then they would finish level on points, but the top ranked girl in Sylt would win on a tiebreak decision.
However, Offringa, Erpenstein and Sniady - currently ranked 3rd-5th in the overalls - won’t necessarily just have things their own way - particularly with Steffi Wahl (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg) returning to the competition lineup for the first time in 2017. The highly talented German finished 5th overall in 2016 and finished 3rd in Tenerife last season, so she is more than capable of beating anyone on her day and putting a spanner in the works. Also in the mix will be Greta Benvenuti (Patrik / Point-7 / AL360), Nicole Bandini (Fanatic / NorthSails) and Caterina Stenta (RRD / RRD Sails / Maui Ultra Fins).
The home crowd will be delighted to have the opportunity to see Philip Köster (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) compete on home waters again after the 23-year-old was ruled out last year through injury. Since his return, Köster has been unstoppable with the former 3-time world champion not losing a heat thus far, which puts him in command of the title race as he looks to win a 4th world crown.
Title Race Connotations
The men’s world title race also looks as though it is now a two horse race between Köster and reigning world champion - Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / NorthSails / Shamal Sunglasses).
If Köster finishes 3rd or better then he is guaranteed the title as even if Fernandez won the event they would finish tied on 2980 points - so Köster would win on the tiebreak.
In order for Fernandez to defend his world title, the Spaniard would need to beat Köster by 3 places or more. I.e if Köster finishes 4th Fernandez must win the event. If Köster finishes 5th Fernandez must finish at least 2nd etc.
However, there really isn’t much margin for error for either Köster or Fernandez with there being no discard this season. That means that former world champion Marcilio Browne (Goya Windsurfing) still has an outside shot, but he would need to win the event and then see Köster finish 9th or worse as well as Fernandez finishing 5th or worse in the single or 7th or worse in the double, while fellow former world champion Thomas Traversa has an even slimmer outside shot, but we will look at that if and when that situation occurs.
Browne is currently on course to defend his place on the prestigious overall podium, but he’ll face stern competition from Traversa, who is just 10 points behind, which means that just one place separates the two sailors.
Meanwhile, Adam Lewis (Fanatic / NorthSails / SWOX) and Alex Mussolini (RRD / RRD Sails) are not out of the podium picture either, particularly with Mussolini winning the event here last year, while Lewis is enjoying his best season to date on the world tour.
Of course the usual suspects of Ricardo Campello (Point-7), Dany Bruch (Starboard / Flight Sails / AL360 / Shamal Sunglasses), Jaeger Stone (Starboard / Severne / SWOX / Shamal Sunglasses), Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde / Mystic / SWOX) and Alessio Stillrich (Fanatic / NorthSails) and Marc Paré (Simmer / Simmer Sails) will all be trying to end the season on a high, while the local crowd will also be hoping for a solid showing from home talents Klaas Voget (Fanatic / NorthSails) and Leon Jamaer (JP / NeilPryde).
The Men’s Freestyle World Champion will also be decided in Sylt over the next 10 days and you’d have to feel that it’ll either be the King of Freestyle - Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / NorthSails) adding to his tally of 7 world titles or Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne) capturing his first world title given that they are No.1 and 2 in the current rankings - and the fact that one of them has won each event completed since 2016.
It’s Gollito who holds the narrow advantage coming into Sylt having won in Fuerteventura in July, but Vrieswijk will be hoping to exact revenge against his good friend and rival for a painful loss here in 2016, which saw the 21-year-old miss out on his first world title after Gollito staged a storming comeback on the final day to the pip Vrieswijk to the world crown and there could be another mouthwatering battle on our hands. In the event that one double elimination was to be completed and Vrieswijk was to win it with Gollito finishing 2nd then the two sailors would be tied points - meaning if there is enough time and suitable conditions that a sail off for the world title could be held.
Yentel Caers (JP / Point-7) has recovered from his injury in Fuerteventura and the Belgian comes into Sylt in 3rd place, while also still having a shot at a first world title. In order to do so though it is likely that Caers would need to win his first world tour event, while having Gollito finish 3rd or worse and Vrieswijk 2nd or worse - but we will bring you full details of how that would work out as the competition unfolds.
Elsewhere, Italy’s Jacopo Testa (RRD / RRD Sails / AL360) comes into Sylt on the back of his best result ever on the world tour - 4th - and he too has outside title hopes, while being Caers’ closest rival for the final spot on the overall podium.
With there being no discard things could change massively with no room for error for any sailor, but you can expect to see former world champions Steven Van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde) and Dieter van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne) pushing for the top together with Frenchmen Adrien Bosson (Fanatic / NorthSails / Maui Ultra Fins) - who finished 3rd here in 2016 - and Antony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails).
As Fuerteventura showcased, the level on the freestyle world tour is absolutely insane at the moment and there really are no easy heats anymore, but you can also expect to see the likes of Bonaire contingent Tonky Frans (RRD / RRD Sails), Kiri Thode and Youp Schmit (99NoveNove / Avanti) plus Sam Esteve (JP / NeilPryde), Balz Müller (Patrik / Severne) all in the mix, while none of the regular freestylers will be wanting to face Thomas Traversa or former 3-time freestyle world champion - Ricardo Campello - who both line up.
Antoine Albeau (RRD / RRD Sails) will be full of confidence coming into the 6th slalom event of the year with the 23-time world champion currently sitting pretty at the top of the rankings after winning the last 3 world cup events. Another victory here would guarantee Albeau the world title with an event to spare, but AA will be firmly focused at the task at hand.
Reining world champion - Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Sunglasses) - is currently Albeau’s closest rival, but with 40 points currently between them, the Italian will know that is imperative for him to gain his first win of the season here in Sylt in order to keep the pressure on Albeau. Anything better than a 6th place here will allow him to discard his result from Japan and last year Iachino was in irresistible form in Sylt as he dominated with 3 bullets and a second place from the 4 eliminations completed. If he can find anything close to that level of form then he’s in with a great shout.
Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins) is currently tied on points with Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Sunglasses) for the battle to complete the overall top 3 and at the moment you would have to say Williams has the momentum after securing consecutive top 3 finishes in Fuerte and then most recently in Denmark. Meanwhile, Mortefon will be doing everything in his power to earn his first podium since Costa Brava in May.
After a blip in Costa Brava, Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti), seems to have regained his form and he’s well positioned in 5th place and he has a clear advantage - 80 points - over Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / Challenger Sails / Chopper Fins), who has recovered well since a disappointing result in the opening event of the year.
The top 10 is currently completed by Antoine Questel (Starboard / S2Maui), Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Chopper Fins), Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) and Cyril Moussilmani (99NoveNove / Severne), but they have the likes of Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails), Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails) and Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / NorthSails), while Arnon Dagan could potentially be one of the biggest movers over the next 10 days as he is currently counting a 25th place.
Elsewhere, you can expect to see Maciek Rutkowski (Tabou / GA Sails) and Enrico Marotti (RRD / NeilPryde) try to continue their momentum after recording their best PWA results in Denmark.
If that isn’t enough then we’ll also be bringing the next installment of exhibition foiling, which will see 32 men battling it out in windsurfing’s newest discipline. So far this season Antoine Questel and Antoine Albeau have recorded one victory each - will one of the Antoine’s strike again or will there be a third different winner in as many exhibitions?
The latest forecast keeps changing on almost every new model run, but it does look like they’ll be plenty of wind - with the potential for waves on Monday-Wednesday. One things for sure though there won’t be a lack of action with all wind conditions covered and with 3 world titles on the line there’s guaranteed to be plenty of drama. Make sure you tune into www.pwaworldtour.com over the next 10 days to see who rises to claim victory and who crashes and burns.