With the skippers' briefing taking place at the crack of dawn, the wave fleet smothered the beach with kit and hit the water from the early hours. The wind was often gusting over 40kts, a strong current was running, and plenty of North Sea growlers were hitting the shoreline, meaning kit choice was critical.
In the early rounds, many fell foul to taking gear which was too small, leaving them struggling to get planing and out past the shore break. Those more experienced with these typical Sylt conditions headed out early and played a tactical game from the word go.
12 minute heats, with 2 wave rides and 2 jumps were the order of the day. With the strong onshore wind with a slight starboard bias, this was going to be a tough call for even the best competitors out there.
With some of the old guard already in the second round, the new guys on tour went out there to show them that getting their automatic place in front, in no way meant they’d stay there. Jason Polakow (JP, NeilPryde) failed to make it through his first heat when an on form Alex Mussolini (Tabou), who was taking no prisoners today, stamped his authority on the contest.
Then came a slight reversal, first with old time racing legend Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde) flying through his first heat to then meet Dany Bruch (Exocet, Severne) in his second. Bruch failed to get out the back throughout his entire heat, giving Albeau an easy ride into the next round. Then came wonder kid Philip Koster (Starboard, NeilPryde, Dakine). Having won in Gran Canaria, we were expecting big things from the youngster. He made it through his first heat, but failed to impress the judges in the same way that he had done earlier in the year and was taken down by tour veteran Peter Volwater (F2, MauiSails) in his second.
Going into the last 16 there was a real mix of old school versus new. Victor Fernandez (Fanatic, North, MFC) upped his game to see off Volwater, whilst Josh Angulo (Angulo, MauiSails, Dakine) notched up some awesome wave scores, which helped him take out Nik Baker (Fanatic, North). Angulo’s riding in this heat was some of the finest seen throughout the competition making it near on impossible for Nik to recover, even with his impressive jumps. Ricardo Campello (JP, NeilPryde, MFC) was also putting in some excellent turns on the waves, but these moments of glory were often followed with an absolute pounding which allowed an on form John Skye (RRD, Naish, MFC) to pass. Other notable performances in this round came from UK powerhouse Robby Swift (JP, NeilPryde), who opened his heat with an impressive fully planing push loop, and Albeau, the 2009 Slalom World Champion, who steam rolled ahead with an equally impressive aerial display.
In the quarterfinals the sailing went through the roof, and when Skye met Kauli Seadi (JP, NeilPryde, Mormaii, MFC) everyone thought that it would mark the end of the UK sailor’s session. Skye however had other plans and sailed the heat of his life, scoring the highest wave score of the day with an awesome frontside aerial – nigh on impossible in these conditions, and the only one landed by any sailor today – to take down the 2008 Wave World Champion and carry on with his path of destruction. Mussolini also took the sailing to another level with some super high push loops and amazing rides. Even the impressive crowd stopping backside airs of Klaas Voget (Fanatic, NeilPryde, MFC) weren’t enough to slow Mussolini’s charge down.
The most impressive display of wave sailing was arguably seen in the semi-final. All of the sailors were on fire, which no doubt made it tough for the judges to make their decisions. Angulo had some great waves which put a stop to Skye progressing any further despite the young Brit fyling high and getting some amazing jumping scores. Skye was always looking for the same frontside smack that saw him past Seadi but it never materialised. On the other side, even though he landed the biggest back loop of the contest, Albeau was no match for Mussolini. The stylish wave riding from the Spaniard saw him straight into the winners final.
For the finals, the heat duration was extended to 15 minutes with 3 jumps to count and 2 waves. The wind had dropped slightly making the conditions even more difficult for the World’s best. Albeau and Skye played a tactical game, but in the end it was Albeau who managed to impress the judges more with bigger jumps and longer rides. Skye went for his trademark onshore frontside aerial, but got taken down on landing by a mass of North Sea froth.
In the winners final, both riders were finding it more and more difficult to milk the waves from out the back all the way into the beach. And to make things worse, the stunt ramps that were seen in earlier rounds were disappearing. Mussolini was still going at full throttle though, putting his kit and his own neck on the line, attempting gutsy goita’s in the teeth of some of the heaviest waves of the day. This style of riding had paid him dividends since the early hours, and it wasn’t about to stop now. Mussolini had done enough to secure victory in the first wave elimination of this Super Grand Slam finale.
In the race for the title, it leaves Angulo ahead, but Seadi still has a chance to steal it back if he can find form in the double elimination, charge past Angulo, and beat Mussolini twice! Even if he beats Angulo, Mussolini can still stop him from gaining overall victory - Kauli must win this event if he wants to take home the title.
In the early heats, Evi Tsape (Fanatic, NeilPryde) put together a great repertoire of jumps and wave rides to take down the freestyle legend Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, NeilPryde), and claim her ticket into the next round. Steffi Wahl (F2, Gaastra) also showed her home crowds how it’s done by linking together numerous turns and squeezing every ounce of power out of the tricky onshore waves. On the other side of the draw, Laure Treboux (Fanatic, North) made it through her first heat with ease taming some North Sea monsters on her way.
In the quarterfinals, Iballa Ruano Moreno (North) had an easy ride because neither of her opponents qualified for the round. Nayra Alonso’s (Fanatic, Severne) first outing was against Treboux, she managed to stop the Swiss girl dead in her tracks with an impressive display of backward rotating jumps. In the other half, Karin Jaggi (F2, Severne) disappointed the home crowds by seeing off Wahl. And current tour leader Daida Ruano Moreno (North) quickly put a stop to Wahl’s plans of progressing any further. Wahl was unlucky to get caught on the inside for much of the heat making Moreno’s life that little bit easier.
Jaggi sailed well to beat Alonso in the losers final and claim third place. In the winners final, Daida got plenty of jumps in, but failed to score as many high scoring waves as her sister, Iballa getting at least six turns on one of her highest scoring waves. This left the crowds wandering for quite a while, but when the scorecards were counted, Iballa had done enough to secure victory.
This leaves Iballa and Daida neck a neck for the overall title, with Daida no doubt hoping for a double elimination to take place over the next few days.
1st Alex Mussolini (Tabou)
2nd Josh Angulo (Angulo, MauiSails, Dakine)
3rd Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde)
4th John Skye (RRD, Naish, MFC)
1st Iballa Ruano Moreno (North)
2nd Daida Ruano Moreno (North)
3rd Karin Jaggi (F2, Severne)
4th Nayra Alonso (Fanatic, Severne)