Gran Canaria Grand Slam
Day 3: Köster and Moreno excel in the waves, as Williams opens the slalom in style.
The amazingly talented Philip Köster (Starboard/NeilPryde/Dakine) has shown that he has what it takes to become one of the best wave sailors in windsurfing’s history, whilst a brilliant Daida Ruano Moreno (North Sails) stays true to form to lead the women’s wave fleet. Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) has blasted into the lead in the men’s slalom after an epic opening battle, as the punishing Pozo Izquierdo delivers once again.
The flags that line beach’s promenade groaned under immense strain from the wind this morning; their detailed branding whipped to shreds as the fleets prepared for a grueling ordeal. The breathtaking action opened with the men’s slalom that kicked off in 30-knot gusts. It was clear from the outset that today would prove to be an epic display of attrition in every discipline.
The door to the podium was blown wide open when the event favorite Antoine Albeau (JP/NeilPryde) faltered in one of the most spectacular crashes of the day. In a series of events that summarized the pressure of the contest, Albeau’s kit exploded under cataclysmic force during the first reach of the opening round. However, the gargantuan athlete made amends as he went on to win the loser’s final of the first elimination, then dominate the entire fleet in a flawless second round, winning it’s final and leaving himself in a good position for the remainder of the event.
The lion-hearted Ross Williams (Tabou/Gaastra) capitalized on his rival’s misfortune, and showed not a glimpse of remorse, hitting each heat with poise and aggression. In a dominant display of his intentions, Williams’ consistent excellence was rewarded fairly and he finished the day leading the fleet. Also riding high on the ebb of success was France’s Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard/North Sails) who performed valiantly in consecutive finals to finish second overall, and the legendary Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard/Severne) who came in third.
Finian Maynard (RRD/NeilPryde) showed incredible board speed throughout the morning, as he smashed through the opening round in style, winning every heat of the first elimination. He remains as one of the biggest threats in this event, excelling in such harrowing, high-wind conditions.
Attention must also be lavished upon the terrific performances that Matt Pearch (Fanatic/North Sails), Patrick Diethelm (F2/North Sails) and Peter Volwater (F2/MauiSails) offered this morning, each one showing glimpses of sheer brilliance around the course. Volwater’s consistency saw him into consecutive finals, along side Diethelm as the two fought valiantly for a winning edge. Pearch’s strength and speed will give him confidence for the week ahead with the exuberant Brit looking solid on the turbulent water.
As it stands, Williams holds his own as the alpha male of the pack, but nothing is certain for these Gladiators who do battle under Gran Canarias’s azure skies.
Men’s and Women’s Waves.
Those fortunate enough to witness the ultimate showdown between Victor Fernandez and Philip Köster this afternoon will have left the beach in awe. It has previously been said that only the most exceptional athlete would ever stand a chance against a firing Fernandez at Pozo, yet Köster was beyond exceptional: he was perfect.
The men’s single elimination final was one of the most outstanding wave heats ever sailed. Both sailors landed unbelievable double forwards; both landed huge one-handed, one-footed backloops; and both landed complex wave-riding moves in the most critical section of the wave. Yet one sailor did so with a sense of style and self-assurance that only true champions are fortunate enough to embody. And at 15 years of age, the incredible Philip Köster has just stamped his name into the history books.
Nothing should be taken away from Fernandez, however, who was truly excellent against both Köster and Klaas Voget (Fanatic/NeilPryde/MFC). It must also be made clear that at this stage only the single elimination has been decided, when a complete double elimination is more than likely. But today is Köster’s day, following a performance reminiscent of the early dominance by Naish and Dunkerbeck, and he should be proud of his outstanding achievement.
Jonas Ceballos and Dario Ojeda completed the top four after exceptional heats that saw them pass Alex Mussolini (Tabou) and Kauli Seadi (JP/NeilPryde/MFC/Mormaii). Both locals made their loyal followers proud, busting massive airs and shredding the waves with incredible style.
A familiar climax to the women’s final was a family affair between Daida Ruano Moreno (North Sails) and Iballa Ruano Moreno (North Sails). In their home ground, the twins appeared untouchable with a repertoire of massively high, super clean jumps that left the spectators speechless. In the end, it was Daida’s double forward and pushloop tweak that gave her the edge, leaving her on track for a successive victory here.
The showdown between Nayra Alonso (Fanatic/Severne) and Junko Nagoshi (Tabou/Simmer Style/Dakine) was no less impressive in the women’s losers final. Alonso has developed her sailing to a new and radical peak, with higher jumps and super-critical turns that saw her edge Nagoshi after an outstanding heat.
As the competitors disperse for the day, an unfamiliar feeling has descended upon the volcanic shores here. As well as the inevitable exhaustion that will dog all athletes, there is also a buzz of excitement. It is almost as if there has been a shift of power amongst the top sailors, and this shift will have an effect on the sport in years to come.
1 Phillip Köster
2 Victor Fernandez
3 Jonas Ceballos
4 Dario Ojeda
1 Daida Ruano Moreno
2 Iballa Ruano Moreno
3 Nayra Alonso
4 Junko Nagoshi
Men's Slalom (after 2 rounds)
1 Ross Williams
2 Cyril Moussilmani
3 Bjorn Dunkerbeck
4 Finian Maynard