Day 1 - Wave sailing’s elite arrived in Pozo to battle it out in the relentless wind and waves with the local hotshots, but were left becalmed on the boulders, creating an unusually relaxed vibe for the opening day of world-class competition.
A windless trials also left all of those hoping to qualify for an entry eagerly awaiting the close of registration. In the end, there was a full fleet with just a couple of wildcard places available leaving many young guns disappointed to not make the cut.
With little wind, the most exciting part of the day culminated in the production of the elimination ladders. And, for the up and coming youngsters that had made it in to the competition, this moment was always going to be hard. Needless to say, there were no cries of joy – this is the toughest fleet in the world, and perhaps the most hardcore introduction to the PWA wave world tour. Easy draws are definitely a thing of the past in Pozo.
Last year an unknown Philip Koster (Starboard, NeilPryde, Dakine) exploded onto the scene in Pozo winning the contest with some impressive moves. He’s without doubt one of the favourites to take the crown again, but will have some tough heats along the way. Perhaps the hardest of which will be his second, when –if he qualifies - he’ll go head to head with former wave world champion, Kauli Seadi (JP, NeilPryde).
Following in Koster’s footsteps are a whole heap of locals, all looking to make their mark and gain some recognition here in Gran Canaria. But, with such a long list of local stars, who should you watch?
The youngest to gain entry to the most prestigious port tack event on tour is 14 year old Moritz Mauch (Mistral, North). Despite sailing under a German number, he is in fact a Pozo local, and has an arsenal of tricks up his sleeve. However, in his very first PWA heat he’s been put up against the port tack specialist from Britain, Phil Horrocks (JP, Gaastra), who has a wealth of competition experience, making it a pretty unlucky draw for the young contender.
Two Gran Canarian hotshots that could go far are Eleazar Alonso (Naish, Naish) and Omar Sanchez (RRD boards). Both competed last year, and have trained hard throughout the last 12 months to get in shape for this contest once again. If Alonso can take down three times freestyle world champion, Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic, North) in his first heat, then he’ll be testing his skills against the awesome port tack jumper, Klaas Voget (Fanatic, Simmer, MFC). Sanchez will have an equally tough time, with wave specialist Camille Juban (Gun, MFC) fighting him first, and if he makes it through, Sylt wave champion Alex Mussolini (Tabou, Vandal) second.
Others to look out for include Jose Romero (JP, NeilPryde) who has the skills to pass through his first heat, but will then be battling with top contender Dario Ojeda (Tabou, Simmer, Dakine). Alessio Stillrich (Fanatic, North) who has the spot dialled, but could meet Jonas Ceballos (Mistral, Simmer) in his second heat. Then there’s Francisco Casas Garcia (Starboard, Severne) who, if he beats freestyle flavour Tonky Frans (F2, Gaastra), will go on to meet the French ripper, Thomas Traversa (Tabou, Gaastra). Josep Pons Casasnovas (Severne) also knows the spot like the back of his hand, but with Yann Sorlut (RRD, Simmer) to take down first, will find it difficult to advance.
All of the locals have the potential to cause an upset, but whether they have enough experience to take home the ultimate prize at the end of the week will be a different story. However, our inside line on kid Koster last year was that he had the skills, but wouldn’t make it to the finals, and look what happened there!
With the current forecast, and Pozo’s reputation, the organisers remain hopeful that we’ll see some awesome action on the water, and the competition will get underway tomorrow morning on schedule.