Mercedes-Benz Aloha Classic
The Aloha Classic has long been considered the most prestigious event in windsurfing and this year’s edition will fittingly see a titanic battle to decide not only the Aloha Classic champion, but it will also determine the overall titles for both the PWA and the IWT at Ho’okipa Beach Park - with the event being joint sanctioned. The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Aloha Classic starts on 27th October and has a two week holding period until the 9th November. However, once the official call has been made to start the contest the event will then run for 5 consecutive days.
This year’s Mercedes-Benz Aloha Classic promises to be one of the most spectacular yet with a star-studded international lineup almost guaranteeing an incredible show. To win this event it’s going to take a supreme level of skill, a small slice of luck and likely a combination of a strong rail and air game.
Ho’okipa (meaning ‘hospitality’) Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii is quintessentially the home of windsurfing. A place any windsurfer has hopes, dreams and aspirations of visiting at some point during their lifetime. What makes Maui so special is its clockwork like trade winds, which combine with some of the best, and biggest, waves on the planet to create the most spectacular windsurfing conditions — and all of this is then set against a stunning, luscious, tropical backdrop. It truly is a destination that every windsurfer must experience at some point in their lifetime.
World Title Race Connotations
With the late confirmation that reigning world champion - Iballa Moreno (Severne / Severne Sails / Maui Ultra Fins) - will be competing at the Mercedes-Benz Aloha Classic that means that the race to be crowned the 2019 Women’s PWA Wave World Champion will consist of 3 women - Iballa, current world tour leader - Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) and Justyna Sniady (Simmer / Simmer Sails / AL360).
Although Iballa may have suffered a disappointing 5th place finish in Sylt, fate still remains in the 10-time world champions own hands and having won the Aloha Classic 3 times already during her career (2006, 2014 & 2015) she may prove difficult to stop once again, however, she will be up against other former Aloha Classic Champions in the shape of the IWT’s Sarah Hauser (Tabou / S2Maui) and Sarah-Quita Offringa, who won here in 2016.
Iballa’s Route to the World Title
- A win would guarantee Iballa a 6th consecutive world title.
- If Offringa or Sniady were to finish second - Iballa would have to win the event to retain her world title.
- If Offringa or Sniady were to finish third or worse - a second place finish or better would guarantee Iballa the title.
Offringa’s Route to the World Title
- A win would guarantee Offringa a maiden wave world title.
- If either Sniady or Iballa were to finish second - then Offringa would have to win the event in order to claim her first world title.
- If Sniady and Iballa were to finish 3rd or worse - Offringa would be guaranteed her first world title no matter her result in Maui.
Sniady’s Route to the World Title
- A win would guarantee Sniady a maiden wave world title
- If Sniady was to finish second she would then need Offringa to finish 3rd or worse, and Iballa to finish second or worse in order to claim the world title.
- If Sniady finishes outside the top 2 she will be ruled out of the title race due to discards.
While the race for the Women’s world title race may be a three-girl race - the race to be crowned the Aloha Classic Champion is still wide open and the best PWA women will be pitted against the finest sailors that the IWT has to offer, which should make for fascinating viewing.
That means that the world title contenders will have to face the likes of multiple-time IWT & Aloha Classic Champion - Sarah Hauser (Tabou / S2Maui), local rippers - Tatiana Howard (Starboard / NeilPryde) & Shawna Cropas (JP / NeilPryde), plus the current IWT leader - Maríah Andrés (Fanatic / Duotone) - and second placed Arrianne Aukes (Fanatic / Duotone / Maui Ultra Fins), while Japan’s Motoko Sato (Starboard / Severne Sails) is also likely to be a major threat.
With just 3,606 points separating the top 6 sailors heading into the final event of the year, 5 of those men will enter the Aloha Classic with a great chance of winning the world title - namely current world tour leader Philip Köster (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins), reigning world champion Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / Duotone), Marcilio Browne (Goya Windsurfing), Ricardo Campello (Brunotti Boards) and Thomas Traversa (Tabou / GA Sails), who won the last event in Sylt and also secured his sole world title to date here in Maui in 2014, but unfortunately current World No.4 - Jaeger Stone (Starboard / Severne / SWOX) has been ruled out of the Aloha Classic through injury.
With 5 men still in the mix to win the 2019 world title, we will keep you updated on how the title race progresses as the competition advances as there as so many different outcomes, but as a quick outline:
- A second place or better would guarantee Köster a 5th world crown.
- A win for either Browne or Fernandez would guarantee them the world title - if Köster finishes outside the top 2.
- Ricardo Campello can still win the PWA world title if he beats Browne and Fernandez to the event title and Köster finishes 4th or worse.
- Thomas Traversa can still win the title if he wins the event and Koster finishes 5th or worse and Browne & Fernandez finish 3rd or worse.
The strength-in-depth of this Aloha Classic field is quite incredible and it includes previous Aloha Classic Champions such as multiple-time winner - Morgan Noireaux (JP / NeilPryde), Levi Siver (Quatro / Goya Windsurfing), Kevin Pritchard (Goya Windsurfing / Ezzy) and Bernd Roediger (Naish Sails), all of whom could easily win again, while upstaging the PWA world title & IWT title hopefuls.
And that list doesn’t even include local ripper - Graham Ezzy (Tabou / Ezzy), who is capable of beating almost anyone at Ho’okipa on his day, while Camille Juban (Quatro / S2Maui) and global waterman - Kai Lenny - must also be considered major threats - as could Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde / SWOX) - who lives in Maui - especially given the fact that the first big swell of the season is set to hit Maui just in time for the start of the Aloha Classic.
Antoine Martin (JP / NeilPryde) is currently enjoying his best season to date on the world tour - ranked 7th coming into Maui - and the 26-year-old will also be hoping to secure the Overall IWT Championship, which he currently leads and it looks like the IWT title race will be a straight fight between himself and multiple Aloha Classic winner - Morgan Noireaux.
A quick glance of the entry list quickly highlights why the Aloha Classic is one of the hardest events to win, but from a spectators' point of view, it quickly becomes apparent why it is also one of the most spectacular events to watch with so much world class talent on offer.
As well as the Pro contests some of the finest youth’s will also be battling it out at Ho’okipa Beach Park - where local boy Jake Schettewi (JP / Hot Sails Maui) is likely to start as the favourite, but will face stern competition from the likes of Takara Ishii (RRD / RRD Sails) & Takuma Sugi (Tabou / GA Sails).
How’s It Looking?
As briefly mentioned earlier, the first big swell of the season is expected to hit Maui’s north shore during the opening days of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Aloha Classic and the decision has already been made that the contest will start tomorrow (27th October) with a skippers' meeting at 10:15am (GMT-10).
The traditional beach blessing will be held at 9am tomorrow - Sunday 27th October - at Ho’okipa Beach Park. It will be a beautiful event with children from Paia Elementary School taking part.
Naish will be the official timing sponsor of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Aloha Classic.
To stay up to date with all the latest developments from Maui — including the live stream, elimination ladders, entry list, images and live ticker simply click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page.