The stakes are high as Austria’s Lake Neusiedl prepares to host the PWA’s opening slalom event of the 2009 race season.
Trading freestyle for slalom, the 2009 Dwarf8 PWA Surf World Cup will mark the official start of the men’s PWA race season. Following a turbulent winter of sponsorship changes and new PWA regulations coming into effect, this inaugural event will act as benchmark for the season that lies ahead.
The Low Down
Running from the 5th to the 10th of May, the Dwarf8 PWA Surf World Cup takes place on Lake Neusiedl’s 315 square kilometers of fresh water, located between Austria and Hungary. With two predominant wind directions (N-NW and S-SE) the lake can produce anything from howling side-shore gales to super technical cross-offshore conditions, leaving sailors at the mercy of the ever-changing Atlantic fronts that track over central Europe.
For 2009, PWA regulations stipulate that during event registration, all sailors competing in the slalom discipline will have to register three boards and six sails, which they will use for the duration of the season. This decision may well have implications that echo throughout subsequent events, as the slalom fleet trade months of research and testing for several minutes during the event’s equipment registration period.
True to form, the Dwarf8 PWA Surf World Cup has attracted a huge international following. In total, 72 riders from all four corners of the globe have signed up to compete in Slalom’s curtain raiser.
As expected, all the big names will be out in force to kick-start their campaigns for the 2009 season. Headlining the monster slalom fleet is 3 x World Champion Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde), who’ll no doubt be looking to secure his first event victory for new board sponsor, JP-Australia.
Likewise, 2008 runner-up Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne) will be aiming to extend the form he enjoyed in the latter part of 2008 with his new sponsors, Starboard and Severne.
Ever consistent stable mates, Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / Gaastra / Dakine / MFC) and Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) are a pair likely to excel in the potentially testing Austrian conditions. While both are capable of sustaining their respective 3rd and 4th positions from 2008, they’ll be setting their sights on toppling the heavy weight contenders, Dunkerbeck and Albeau.
A shock departure from the event standings is American race specialist Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde / MFC). Continuing a run of bad luck following an injury sustained mid way through last season, the Buzianis camp announced that the Denver born racer will have to miss out on the first event of the season following a recent injury to his foot. Should recovery go to plan, Buzianis should be back competing in the next slalom World Cup in Korea.
As you’d anticipate from a location that has the potential to serve up an unpredictable mix of conditions, the Dwarf8 PWA Surf World Cup crown could fall to any number of riders. Throw in the additional variables that many sailors are on new sponsors’ equipment, there are new PWA regulations governing equipment selection, the location is a new stop on the slalom tour, and you have all the ingredients for some dramatic race action.
Off The Water
The 2009 PWA Surf World Cup is sponsored by premium refreshment, Dwarf8. Developed by windsurfing activist, Dr. Beat, Dwarf8 was created in the Alps, raised in Tarifa, and is now enjoyed by an ever growing family of passionate professional and amateur sportsmen around the globe.
Off the water, visitors to the Surf World Cup will have a chance to sample Dr. Beat’s creation as they enjoy the numerous stands, stalls and entertainment littered all over the Podersdorf event site.
Keep Your Finger On The Pulse