From June 30th through to July 3rd the PWA’s elite pack of freestylers will hit the shores of Las Cucharas beach in Lanzarote where they’ll be aiming to spin and flip their way to victory in front of the hoards of spectators lining the beach, the international judging panel - who’ll be scoring every fine detail - and the world media at the second stop of this body contorting tour.
The first event of the freestyle world tour kicked off earlier this year on the Neusiedler See, Podersdorf, where the men’s fleet fought hard on the final day of competition, which saw Bonairean style master Taty Frans (Starboard, MauiSails, Mystic) rise to the top of the crop and take the event win. The women’s fleet has yet to make an appearance, so Lanzarote will be the first opportunity for the ladies to strut their stuff in front of the judges and gain valuable points towards their overall rankings.
Expect relentless trade winds that will allow most of the competitors to throw down the most impressive freestyle moves on their favourite gear. If the trades are really howling, the smaller guys could be on their 3.7s or even 3.0s, otherwise they will be powering round moves on anything from their 5.9s to 4.7s. The bay of Las Cucharas can, and has during previous events, throw up some interesting conditions for freestyle. If there’s a swell running, the outside half of the competition area produces mast high ramps giving the sailors the opportunity to throw some insane jumps normally only seen in wave competition. However, even with a bit of swell, the inside area remains glassy flat which is where the latest technical trickery will be going down.
Movers and shakers
Despite a rumoured injury, all eyes will no doubt be on Taty Frans to see if he can continue the consistent game that he’s currently playing. Frans has won the previous two world tour events, including the final stop of 2009 in Sylt, and the first stop of this year in Podersdorf. He trains with the best crew in the world whilst at home in Bonaire, which includes his brother Tonky Frans (F2, MauiSails) who is more than capable of a podium finish, and the innovative Kiri Thode (Starboard, Gaastra) who has been unlucky not to claim an event crown to date. Perhaps Lanzarote will be his…
The world media will also be watching the 2009 freestyle world champion, Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic, North) extremely closely. Many pundits still rate him as the most consistent freestyler in the world, and he’s won the previous three events in Costa Teguise in a row. Expect big moves and bucket loads of style from this super successful Venezuelan born champion.
Another name echoing around the finest fleet of tricksters is that of Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2, Gaastra). He beat Gollito in Podersdorf to ensure him not only a spot in the final, but more importantly, a confidence boost that now sees him feared by his peers, and a real threat to anyone on the world tour. If Broeckhoven has his day, the world will definitely know about it.
Another contender is local boy Antxon Otaegui (JP, NeilPryde). If the wind starts to howl, making the extremely technical moves near on impossible, and blowing the smaller guys off the water, Otaegui will move into a league of his own at his home spot, hunting down ramps for insane doubles which will no doubt score plenty of points with the judges.
The biggest shock to the 2010 freestyle world tour occurred just days after Podersdorf when top five ranked styler, and director of the highly acclaimed ‘Four Dimensions’, Andre Paskowski (Fanatic, North) was diagnosed with cancer. Paskowski performed to his usual high standard in Podersdorf, finishing 5th, and will be hugely missed from the rest of this year’s tour. We wish him a speedy recovery, and look forward to seeing him trick it up again as soon as possible.
With this being the first event of the 2010 season for the women, it could make or break a world champion. The Aruban sister of style, Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, Vandal) seems unstoppable, and many believe she’ll make it three world titles in a row this year. However, it won’t be a simple matter of turn up and take the title. Amongst others, Swiss style icon, Laure Treboux (Fanatic, North) will be putting up a strong fight, as will Junko Nagoshi (Tabou, Simmer, Dakine), and Yoli De Brendt (Fanatic, North).
In it to win it
With a €45,000 prize purse up for grabs (€30,000 for the men’s fleet, and €15,000 for the women), expect the very best sailors to be pushing the limits with as yet, unseen in competition, combination moves that’ll blow both the pros and rookies off the water.
The lively town of Costa Teguise is just a short walk away from the competition area, and with plenty of bars and nightclubs, it could easily become a distraction for many of the World’s craziest freestylers mid competition. For many however, it will simply be a great place to blow off some steam after a hard day of hitting the water at full pelt heat after heat.