Mercedes-Benz Sylt PWA Super Grand Slam
After a late summer break we are back and Sylt, Germany, is preparing to host a blockbuster finale to the 2018 PWA World Tour, which will see 5 new world champions crowned across 4 different disciplines; Men’s and Women’s Wave, Men’s Freestyle, Men’s Slalom and Men’s Foil during the Mercedes-Benz Sylt PWA Super Grand Slam, which runs from 28th September until 7th October.
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 variety 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.
After the late withdrawal of Daida Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins), due to injury, that means that the current top 3 will remain as they are. Therefore, Iballa Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) and Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) have nothing to lose in Sylt and will finish the season as World Champion and Vice-World Champion respectively, which is Iballa’s 5th world title in a row, while Offringa becomes vice-world champion in the waves for the first time. Daida completes the overall podium.
Away from the podium Lina Erpenstein (Severne / Severne Sails) will look to defend her 4th place in the overall rankings, but she’ll face a stern test from Justyna Sniady (Simmer / Simmer Sails / AL360), who is realistically the only woman who can overtake her. *Arrianne Aukes (Fanatic / Duotone / Maui Ultra Fins) can mathematically still overtake but would be required to not only earn her first podium in the waves but also win her first event. The Dutchie will be looking to defend her place in the top 5 though.
Sniady is currently ranked 8th due to being absent from Morocco due to visa complications, but is right back in contention after a 5th and a 4th. In order for Sniady to overtake Erpenstein, Sniady requires a top 4 finish or better, while beating Erpenstein in Sylt.
Title Race Connotations
On paper it looks like the title race will come down to a fight between current world tour leader - Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / Duotone / Shamal Sunglasses) and reigning world champion - Philip Köster (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) as a top two finish or better for either sailor will guarantee one of them the title as it is then mathematically impossible for any of their rivals to catch them. Whoever beats who would then ultimately win the title.
If you look solely at port tack wave events results, which Sylt is likely to be, although it can sometimes produce starboard tack wave conditions, then the last time both Fernandez and Köster finished outside the top 2 at a port tack wave event is Sylt in 2016, which isn’t too long ago… however, on that occasion, Köster was injured and therefore unable to compete. If you go back to the last time both men were fit and both finished outside the top two in a port tack wave event then you have to go all the way back to Sylt in 2009 - when Köster was just 15-years-old. So, it seems a tall order for both to finish outside the top 2.
However, stats like those are made to be broken and given the fact that the level on the World Tour is undoubtedly at the highest it has ever been, then it seems more and more likely that at some stage history will rewrite itself - especially given the fact that the podium in Gran Canaria and Tenerife has featured 6 different sailors (a completely different top 3 in both events in 2018) and there is no discard, meaning pressure will be at an all time high, so anything can happen.
In With A Chance
In the event that Fernandez and Köster both finish 3rd or worse then that would present Ricardo Campello (Brunotti Boards / Point-7), who is still seeking a first wave world title, with an opportunity to steal the top prize. However, in order to do so, Campello would have to conjure up his first victory on the world tour since La Torche in 2014.
If Fernandez and Köster were then both to record top 4 finishes or worse then that would bring two more names into the title race equation - Marcilio Browne (Goya Windsurfing) and Jaeger Stone (Starboard / Severne / SWOX / Shamal Sunglasses) - who are currently tied in joint 4th place coming into Sylt. In this scenario, Browne or Stone would be required to win the event in order to claim the wave sailing world’s top prize.
Elsewhere, Adam Lewis (Fanatic / Duotone / SWOX) will look to build upon his best result to date in Tenerife - 3rd - as the Brit looks to end the season with a bang. And given he did well here last year, he could well do just that.
Lewis holds a reasonable advantage over his next closest rival - Alex Mussolini (RRD / RRD Sails) - who is ranked 7th overall. The Spaniard suffered a surprise 13th place finish in Tenerife and will look to bounce back. The Spaniard won the event here in 2016 and could be a major player again.
Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde / SWOX), Dieter van der Eyken (Severne / Severne Sails) and Marc Pare (Simmer / Simmer Sails) complete the top 10 at this stage with all 3 tied in joint 8th - the latter two are looking to break into the overall top 10 for the first time come the end of the year.
Title Race Connotations
Almost nothing separates current world tour leader - Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses) and Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) - coming into the final event of the year. In fact, over the opening 5 events, there is almost nothing separating the two world title contenders and they are currently tied on 40,700 points - with Iachino only ahead on countback having recorded a better a result than Albeau in 3 of the 5 events. So. put simply it looks as though whoever beats who here will walk away from 2018 with their second (Iachino) or 25th (Albeau) world title, respectively.
In With A Chance
However, as last year in Sylt proved almost anything can happen here with Albeau finishing 10th, while Iachino had to settle for 16th. If things were to unfold like that again then Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins) could yet still claim a maiden slalom world crown. In order to do so, Iachino and Albeau would both have to finish 8th or worse - no matter if under 4 races or over 4 races are completed - while Mortefon would have to win the event.
In the event that Over 4 Eliminations are completed and:
Iachino and Albeau both finish 9th - Mortefon must finish 2nd or better
Iachino and Albeau finish 10th - Mortefon must finish 3rd or better
Iachino and Albeau finish 11th - Mortefon must finish 4th or better
Iachino and Albeau finish 12th - Mortefon must finish 5th or better
Any results worse than this and Mortefon would still need to finish at least 5th due to discards
Under 4 Eliminations completed?
However, if less than 4 eliminations are completed and Iachino was to finish 9th and Albeau 8th - then Mortefon would have to win the event compared to finishing 2nd with 4 or more races.
If Iachino and Albeau both finish 9th or worse - Mortefon must finish 2nd or better still due to discards
Elsewhere, you can expect to see Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails / Chopper Fins) bounce back from his worst result of the season in Fuerte. The Frenchman is currently ranked 4th overall but has Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / Duotone) and Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti) breathing firmly down his neck - with the former enjoying his best season to date and the flying Dutchman will be eager to end the season on a high.
Also likely to be involved are Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Shamal Sunglasses), Cyril Moussilmani (RRD / Severne), Finian Maynard (I-99) and Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde), while a whole host of other sailors are also more than capable of battling it out for the top 10 and beyond in the final event of the year.
8-time Freestyle World Champion - Gollito Estredo (Fanatic / Duotone) - comes into Sylt as the world tour leader having claimed victory in Fuerteventura and a 9th world title would look to be on the cards given the fact that the Venezuelan has won here in 2014, ’16 and ’17, while no result was gained in 2015. Gollito is one of the most ruthless competitors on the tour and you wouldn’t expect to see him give up a golden opportunity for world title No.9.
However, nothing is set in stone and anything can still happen - especially with no discard - meaning any mistakes or untimely equipment failures are likely to be severely punished.
Gollito’s closest rival coming into Sylt is fellow teammate - Adrien Bosson (Fanatic / Duotone / Maui Ultra Fins) - after the Frenchman earned his best result yet in Fuerte - 2nd. The 27-year-old finished 3rd here in 2016 and a similar performance this time around should be enough to earn him a spot on the overall podium for the first time in his career, while if he could find a way to win his first PWA Freestyle event a maiden world title would beckon.
However, both men will face stern competition at the top - firstly from Belgium’s Yentel Caers (JP / Point-7), who has quickly established himself as one of the top freestylers in the world and he’ll be extremely motivated knowing that a first world title could still be on the cards.
Meanwhile, Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne), who has been Gollito’s biggest rival for the last couple of seasons, faces a tall order if he wants to get his hands on the sports top prize. Even if the Bonairean is able to win here his fate will be out of his hands as he comes into Sylt in 4th place. In the event that Vrieswijk was to win the event, he would need Gollito to finish 4th or worse, Bosson to finish 3rd or worse.
Elsewhere, expect to see former world champions - Steven Van Broeckhoven (JP / Gun Sails / Shamal Sunglasses) and Dieter van der Eyken in the mix again alongside last year’s world No.3 Jacopo Testa (RRD / RRD Sails / AL360) and New Caledonia’s Antoine Albert (Goya Windsurfing) plus many more.
Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) leads the foil discipline coming into the final event of the year after recording a 1st, 2nd and a 6th so far. The Argentine holds a two place advantage over Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde), but with a discard to come things could still easily change. A top 2 finish would guarantee Costa Hoevel the title.
Amado Vrieswijk is one of the sailors who could benefit the most from the discard and that makes him Costa Hoevel’s biggest danger. A second victory of the season for the 22-year-old, who won his first foil event in Costa Brava, would leave Costa Hoevel needing to finish 2nd in order to defend his lead.
Also in contention should be Sebastian Koerdel (Starboard / GA Sails), Julien Bontemps (JP / NeilPryde), Mateus Isaac, who won the event in South Korea, plus the likes of France’s Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / GA Sails / Chopper Fins) and Antoine Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) and also Denmark’s Sebastian Kornum (JP / NeilPryde). There are many other connotations with the discard to come, but we’ll take a look at those as the foiling unfolds.
Foiling continues to evolve incredibly quickly and it remains quite hard to predict with results varying significantly from race-to-race sometimes. The opening 3 events have produced 3 different winners… will Sylt produce a 4th? Or will Costa Hoevel, Vrieswijk or Isaac claim a second event title?
A Windy Event Ahead
Judging by the latest forecast model from WindGuru the 2018 Mercedes-Benz Sylt PWA Super Grand Slam looks as it could be as action packed as last year’s edition with winds from 14 to almost 60 knots of wind currently on offer throughout the entirety of the event. With such an amazing forecast on offer - make sure you don’t miss any of the epic action by tuning into www.pwaworldtour.com between 28th September - 7th October.
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The world premiere of this system will start this Friday in Sylt at the Mercedes-Benz PWA Windsurf World Cup.