Event Preview - The white sands of Sotavento are heating up in preparation for the high-octane slalom racing, and the outright freestyle frenzy that are about to take place as the PWA’s stars fly into Fuerteventura.
Celebrating 25 years of World Cup competition, this year’s Fuerteventura Grand Slam will run from the 23rd of July through to the 2nd of August, with Sotavento’s beautiful beaches playing centre stage to the world’s fastest slalom racers, and the most tricked up freestyle competitors.
The world famous Rene Egli windsurfing centre will once again be hosting the event on the south-eastern shores of the island of Fuerteventura. Ideally situated, this destination allows the competitors direct access to the awesome conditions, whilst also providing every opportunity for the spectators to enjoy the action from the comfort of their sun loungers.
The excellent conditions found at this beachside paradise allow the freestylers to raise the bar year upon year, with constant strong winds, and the occasional stunt ramp giving them every opportunity to perform the most radical tricks. The same conditions also enable the slalom sailors to get reacquainted with their smallest sails for some adrenalin pumping racing round the buoys.
Men’s slalom racing is scheduled to kick off the proceedings in Fuerteventura from the 23rd - 28th July. This event marks the mid point in the 2010 slalom world tour, and will therefore be a crucial time for those wishing to stand tall on the podium at the end of the year.
Currently slalom’s archrivals, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne) and Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) are neck-a-neck with an event win and a second place a piece. When the two giants last went head to head in Costa Brava, countless times world champion, Dunkerbeck claimed victory ahead of the 2009 champion, Albeau. However, the champion of modern day slalom, Albeau has dominated the Fuerteventura Grand Slam in recent years, and will surely be determined to not hand his crown back to the terminator. Expect a real battle of the titans this time round.
Other sailors worth watching include the PWA’s President, Jimmy Diaz (Starboard, North) who put together an excellent set of results in the first event of the season to claim a spot on the podium. Flying Frenchman, Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard, North) who claimed 4th here in Fuerte last year, and proved he still has what it takes by taking 3rd at the previous event in Costa Brava. 2009 Fuerteventura runner up, Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) who has shown moments of brilliance this year, but hasn’t put a solid set of results together yet - perhaps this will be his moment. Also, former overall world champion, Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra) who had his best result here last year, claiming the final spot on the podium.
The penultimate men’s freestyle event of the season is set to start immediately after the racing, running from the 28th July through to the 2nd August.
After the first two events in Austria and Lanzarote, three times world champion, Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic, North) is out in pole position. His third place in Podersdorf was seen by many as a shaky start to the season, but Estredo lay to rest any thoughts of him being on a downward spiral, by dominating the fleet in Costa Teguise to take top honours with ease. He will surely be aiming to reaffirm his dominance off the white sands of Sotavento, so watch out for new moves, and out of this world action from the champion styler.
Estredo’s closest rival is the 2009 world tour runner up, Kiri Thode (Starboard, Gaastra). Thode has all of the moves dialled, and is more than capable of an event win, but it seems to have eluded him so far. Perhaps Thode will become a champion in Fuerteventura…
Other competitors to keep a close eye on include the king of pop, Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2, Gaastra), whose second place in Podersdorf proved to the world that he’s a force to be reckoned with. And, Bonairean brothers, Taty Frans (Starboard, MauiSails, Mystic) who has claimed the crown in two out of the last three events, but had a shocker in Lanzarote, and Tonky Frans (F2, Gaastra) who has consistently been at the forefront of modern freestyle.
Apart from the tour regulars, there are two newcomers capable of taking the scalp off even the most competition savvy PWA pros. These being the youngster from Bonaire, Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard, Hot Sails) who took down Taty in Lanzarote, and Daivis Parternina Teran from Venezuela. Expect to see both of these guys making their mark in Fuerteventura.
In It To Win It
With a €60,000 euro prize purse up for grabs (€30,000 for freestyle and €30,000 for slalom), alongside precious points counting towards overall rankings, expect the sailors to explode into action from day one, with some fast and furious racing, and funky flipping and sliding.
Thousands of tourists will get the opportunity to mingle with the stars of the PWA in the huge party tent filled with delicious food, drinks, and music. If you’re planning on heading down to the beach, be sure to stick around for the infamous parties in the evenings.