The heat is on. The temperatures in Fuerteventura reached 45 degrees, and the pressure cooker atmosphere really took hold. Some sailors had to return to their air-conditioned hotel rooms, unable to withstand the climate, as the intense heat-wave suffocated the sailors all day. Good news for the event leaders Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic/North Sails/MFC) and Sarah Quita Offringa (Starboard/NeilPryde), who are beginning to look untouchable at the top.
The locals call it a calima. It is a form of high pressure that starts in the Northern Sahara desert, and inflicts a period of intense and oppressing heat over the Canary Islands. Unfortunately, it also brings an unfamiliar wind direction to the volcanic shores, affecting the usual trades.
With one double elimination complete, the sailors who are in the podium positions are looking happy. After great early performances, Estredo, Tonky Frans (F2/Gaastra) and Marcillo Browne (Fanatic/North Sails/MFC) lead the men, while Offringa, Daida Ruano Moreno (North Sails) and Yoli Freites De Brendt (Fanatic/North Sails) currently lead the women.
As it stands, a complete double elimination puts pressure on the competition tomorrow. The way the rules work, only a second complete double elimination will score – and this will require at least eight and a half hours on the water, with no room for error. Unless the wind blows from 0900 tomorrow, the chances of finishing with a different result are slim to none.
Could this be the end of the road for the challengers here at Fuerteventura? Only time will tell.
One of the few competitors to brave the scorching conditions at the beach was the Canarian sensation Nayra Alonso (Fanatic/Severne), who was kind enough to talk to us this afternoon.
PWA: How are you feeling after the Canaries Tour?
NA: “I’m super, super happy that is coming to an end (smiling). This is the most difficult contest of the year. I kind of feel a bit sweet and sour about the last few weeks – the freestyle here has gone so much better than I expected, but I was really upset to lose out of a podium place in the waves in Pozo. This year I really focused on wave sailing, so to do so well in the freestyle is a real bonus”
PWA: Do you feel more pressure competing in front of a home crowd?
NA: “No, not really. There is always a lot of pressure in all events, but I don’t think its any worse when I compete in the Canaries. It helps that I have been coming to these places for over six years now!”
PWA: We have seen a dramatic improvement in the women’s fleet this year – is this because you are being pushed so hard by Offringa in freestyle and the Moreno’s in waves?
NA: “Having someone so good to look at definitely helps, but I would say that it is more a natural drive to improve that has helped the most. I have always wanted to make sure that I do the best, and it doesn’t really matter who is standing out. I think you always have to want to be the best that you can be, and this is the real reason we have all improved”
PWA: Do you think any one will be able to match Offringa in the near future? What do you think makes her so special?
NA: “No. No way. She is amazingly talented, and is so far ahead of anyone else in freestyle I don’t think anyone will beat her for a long time. Every now and then, someone special comes along. Ricardo (Campello) did it about five years ago, and now it is Sarah’s turn. I think she is really special and am super happy for her.”
PWA: Do you have any exciting plans for the coming winter? Waves/Freestyle/Travel?
NA: “I can’t wait to get back to Maui in October for six weeks. It will give me a chance to relax and go wave sailing in starboard tack. I would really like to go back to Western Australia also. I had such a good time there last winter with Laure Treboux, Ben Severne, Scotty McKercher, and I hope my boyfriend Skyeboy will be able to come this time too!”
We thank Nayra for her time, and wish her all the best for the remaining event of the season. For now, we wait nervously to see what tomorrow will bring. It is make or break for the freestyle elite, so make sure you tune in for an early start.
Steven Van Broeckhoven
Sarah Quita Offringa
Daida Ruano Moreno
Yoli Freites De Brendt