The opening round of the 2010 PWA wave tour took place today in spectacular conditions off the Gran Canarian coast. The northerly direction meant that the usual relentless winds associated with Pozo didn’t kick in with full force, but an 18-25 knot breeze with small waves was sufficient for the competition to begin.
During the early heats many of the sailors were struggling because they hadn’t brought big enough gear. And, a few were left to battle it out on 4.0s or 4.5s when they would have preferred something larger.
Proper waves were also few and far between, forcing head judge, Duncan Coombs to lengthen the heat duration to 18 minutes. Normally the conditions allow two jumps and two rides to be scored in 8 minutes, unfortunately that simply wasn’t possible in the conditions today. This meant many of the sailors were working for much longer periods than they’re used to, with some having almost an hour of intense competition due to their heat being abandoned 3 times!
The first full round for the men managed to draw to a close, but the wind and waves backed off in the afternoon halting the proceedings.
Freestyle Meets Waves
When three times freestyle world champion, Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic, North) met local lad Eleazar Alonso (Naish, Naish) it was a battle of the disciplines. No one would lend Gollito a wave board for the event, after snapping Klaas Voget’s (Fanatic, Simmer, MFC) prize possession last year, so he had to put his Fanatic Skate through its paces in the waves! He sailed well, with an awesome air chachoo, but Alonso’s stylish back loops and higher scoring rides saw him go through.
Tipped for the top by the PWA tour pundits, local rippers Jose Romero (JP, NeilPryde) and Alessio Stillrich (Fanatic, North) sailed their home spot with perfection. They both had some of the longest rides of the day, milking the waves until their fins hit the rocks, gybing back out, and boosting some huge jumps to advance through to the next round with ease.
Heat 7 was a similar affair with the two locals, Josep Pons Casasnovas and Francisco Casas Garcia (Starboard, Severne) comfortably tearing Pozo to pieces. Yann Sorlut (RRD, Simmer) put up a good fight against Pons Casasnovas, but the local nudged ahead with an awesome back loop, and high scoring wave which saw him claim the best overall score of the day. Bonairean freestyler, Tonky Frans (F2, Gaastra) nailed some stylish jumps in his heat against Casas Garcia, but couldn’t quite match the local in the riding department, allowing him to pass through to the top 32.
How far these local guys will go, nobody knows… One thing is clear though – they rip in Pozo!
Slalom King Claims It In The Waves
The 2009 slalom world champion, Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) powered through his early round heat on his 5.8 (a sail size rarely seen at Pozo) against Jorge Vera Garcia to advance through. Not only that, but he had a world-class audience, with windsurfing legend, and his current main rival in slalom, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne) watching on from the beach. It would have been good to see the former wave champion battling with Albeau here in the waves, but his focus in competition is solely on slalom now. Perhaps another time…
Club Kauli Koster
When 2009 Pozo champion, Philip Koster (Starboard, NeilPryde, Dakine) hit the water alongside former wave world champion Kauli Seadi (JP, NeilPryde, MFC) the level went through the roof. The wave champions were actually in separate heats, but matched each other with faultless stalled forwards, and huge back loops. Unfortunately their heat had to be abandoned due to the dying conditions, but it certainly looks like these two will be meeting each other in the third round, and when they do, it’ll be one hell of a show!
The women were scheduled to commence battle as soon as the men’s fleet had been whittled down to the top 16. Unfortunately, this left them hanging on tenterhooks, eager to get out on the water to show off their skills.
As of yet we haven’t seen the women in wave competition for 2010, meaning an all manner of people could cause some upsets to the longstanding champions of the women’s wave tour.
German contender, Steffi Wahl (Patrik, Gaastra) was spotted out on the water training today whilst the men’s competition was on standby, and she looked to be shredding in the onshore waves. A good first heat for Wahl, could help propel her into the finals, and maybe even onto the podium.
Wahl has a fairly tough draw however with the young French racing star, Alice Arutkin (Starboard, North) in her first heat. If Arutkin’s wave sailing has improved as much as her slalom racing, then she too could pass through to the finals and cause an upset.
Another young lady training hard on the water today was Polish ripper, Justyna Sniady. Unfortunately, it looked like she was pushing it a bit too much pre-competition, and a quick inspection from the on-site doctor revealed that she may have burst her ear drum whilst spinning round a forward. Sniady remained fairly positive, and will no doubt put in a great performance against women’s windsurfing legend, Karin Jaggi (Patrik, Severne) during the first round.
Along with these few, there are many other women to watch out for including the freestyler turned wave sailor from Russia, Olya Raskina (JP, NeilPryde). Laure Treboux (Fanatic, North) who now lives and trains in the waves of Western Australia for six months of the year. And, Japanese wave warrior, Junko Nagoshi (Tabou, Simmer, Dakine) who could easily upset the balance.
The forecast for tomorrow and Friday is calling for stronger winds and similar waves, so it looks like we’ll see more insane, world-class competition before the week is out. Hopefully the women will get their chance to wow the crowds tomorrow, and the men will fly through a further round or two.