The 2006 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam Final Day
Venezuelan Freestyle sensation, Jose Estredo (V-1, Fanatic/ North Sails) wins his first PWA Grand Slam after securing victory in the second double elimination in Sotavento, Fuerteventura. In the women’s battle Sarah-Quita Offringa (ARU-91 Starboard / Maui Sails) of Aruba, wins her first ever major event also winning both double eliminations.
The standard was off the scale today with winds blowing up to 30 knots and even the early heats certainly tested the judges. Kauli Seadi (BRA-253, Quatro/ Naish) and Anthony Ruenes (F-85, Tabou/ Gaastra) had to have a re-sail after a rare tie, but Seadi came out on top before losing his next heat against Kiri Thode (NB-61 Gaastra / Starboard).
Thode was looking dangerous after his defeat of Seadi, and next to suffer at his hands were Douglas Diaz (V-34, Fanatic/ North), and world champion Ricardo Campello (V-111, JP/ Neil Pryde) before he eventually lost to German freestyle specialist, Norman Gunzlein (G-186, JP / NeilPryde). Gunzlein’s skills in the choppy strong wind conditions really impressed the judges, especially when he beat form player, and many peoples favourite to win the event, Taty Frans (NB-9, Starboard / MauiSails). Gunzlein also pushed Estredo really heard in the semi-final, daring to mimic the young Venezuelan’s signature move the Burner. A tight decision gave Estredo the verdict to face single elimination winner Antxon Otaegui (E-169, JP/ NeilPryde).
Then in a cruel twist of fate Otaegui injured himself badly in the warm up preceding the final, handing Estredo the win. “I’m so sorry for Antxon, and I hope the injury is not serious for him” Estredo stated on being told the news. South America’s hottest talent even went on the water to give a solo performance regardless in a sporting gesture to his missing finalist. “Despite not completing the second double elimination I am super super happy to win my first ever Grand Slam, and I will do all that I can possible to win the next one too! I trained so hard every day since last year for this moment, and to make a difference from last year – so far it seems to have paid off! I was really relaxed after the first double elimination final, and then I got nervous as Taty won. But my nerves eased when Taty lost the re-sail. It’s a shame Anxton was hurt as I really wanted to show him what I could do!”
High winds and choppy conditions challenged the women’s fleet today and an on-form Nayra Alonso (E-4, Fanatic/ Severne) capitalised when she took the major scalp of Iballa Moreno (E-63, Mistral/ North Sails).Alonso also beat experienced competitor Junko Nagoshi (J-11 F2 / Simmer) before she eventually lost to fellow Spaniard Silvia Alba (E-67). Alba was coping with the conditions well and presented a real threat to her next opponent Daida Moreno (E-64, Mistral/ North Sails); but the multiple world champions variety of tricks and consistent execution of manoeuvres spelt the end for Alba. Next up for Moreno was the single elimination runner up, 2006 debutant, Laure Treboux (SUI-4 Naish / Naish). Treboux had already beaten Moreno in the first single and double eliminations and must have gone into this encounter with a certain amount of confidence. But Moreno came out with all guns blazing, digging deep into her high wind repertoire with one-footed forwards, one-handed spocks and flakas. Treboux struggled in the lack of smooth water and Moreno advanced to the final against Offringa.
Moreno’s fight back against the new skool looked to be complete after the first of two finals, when the 16 year old Aruban fell on many moves whilst Moreno racked up the points. Moreno won and forced a re-sail to decide the double elimination winner. This time Offringa sailed tactically, and made shuvit’s’ spock combinations and a perfect flaka. “I fell a lot in the first final, but after I lost I actually relaxed, and because of that I focused and won…this first Grand Slam win means everything to me! The difference between this year and last year, my first year on tour, is in training as last season I tried many moves that I couldn’t complete under the pressure of competition; but now I can!’
Event Organiser and host Rene Egli was blown away by the standard of the ladies competition today and during the event. “I was happy to see freestyle return to Fuerteventura, especially for the women, as the numbers of talented ladies entering is growing and the standard is really high compared to previous seasons. I think it is important that the crowds who flock here, get to see just how exciting a show these athletes put on. In many sports there is a gulf between the men’s and ladies in terms of standard, but in windsurfing that gap is much narrower and a great spectacle for anyone watching. That’s why we really look forward to welcoming the women’s event back here in coming seasons’
The freestyle tour is now lead by two young talents who have lived up to all their expectations. Only time will tell if they have what it takes to stop their experienced rivals fighting back. One thing is for certain is the standard that is required continues to grow at a frightening pace as event the first round heats now highlight with the level of tricks performed.
Before the freestyle took over the action in Sotavento, some high adrenaline racing took place when the Slalom 42 fleet arrived.
Antoine Albeau arrived as tour leader after a display of total domination in Gran Canaria. But, after two races on day one, it was Bjorn Dunkerbeck (E-11, North Sails) who built a lead by winning race one, and posting second in the next. It started to look as if Albeau might not have it all his way as Dunkerbeck fought back from the humiliating defeat he suffered on his home patch in Pozo. Karin Jaggi (Z-14, F2/ North Sails) also immediately showed she meant business, taking three wins from the first three races in the women’s event.
By day two, with Albeau falling to third place, it was the fastest windsurfer in the world, Finian Maynard (KV-11 F2 / NeilPryde) who came to form and, as in Gran Canaria, showed how much of a consistent threat he is on his current form. Jaggi proved she is no unbeatable when she was beaten by Valerie Ghibaudo (FRA-444).
But Albeau was not going to lie down that easily, and on the third day he fought back and reclaimed the event lead, winning race 6 whilst Bjorn Dunkerbeck slumped to fourth position. A resurgent Micah Buzianis (US-34 JP / NeilPryde) leapfrogged Maynard to go second after easily winning race 5. Meanwhile in the women’s racing, Jaggi continued to dominate with only Valerie Ghibaudo posing any serious threat to her as they won a race each, although Jaggi had the final word by winning the third.
The tension on day four shone through when nerves struck the top players, and mistakes all round saw many disqualified for premature starts. Although amongst the guilty, Albeau was incredibly lucky and kept first position, and Buzianis, in second failed to capitalise on Albeau, Dunkerbeck’s, and Maynard’s mistakes, as one by one they found the pressure of the occasion too much for them, each getting sent back to the beach for early starting offences. After the race 8 final was continually delayed by so many re-starts, Jaggi managed to keep pole position in the women’s competition, despite disqualification from an earlier race herself.
There was everything to play for on the final day in both the men’s and ladies fleets, with victory by no means guaranteed for leaders Albeau and Jaggi. After a morning of teasing winds, racing eventually got underway in the late afternoon. Albeau and Jaggi were sure to stamp their authority, both earning final race wins to take the men’s and women’s event titles. With more mistakes all-round it was Maynard who won the battle for second ahead of Buzianis in third.
Over five thrilling days of racing, the excellent Slalom 42 section of this event came to a close after a total of 9 men’s races, and the maximum of 15 women’s races were completed. Albeau started this event looking as if he was about to repeat his excellent form at the start of the tour. Then, a couple of poor showings by the Frenchman meant that Dunkerbeck took the driving seat over the next two days. Meanwhile the race for second and third place hotted up between Maynard and Buzianis. The nerves and mistakes all-round on day four allowed Albeau to re-claim the lead as Dunkerbeck slumped to fifth. Maynard was Albeau’s biggest threat throughout this event and remains a true force to be reckoned with approaching the last two events of this tour.
Karin Jaggi has showed once again her all-round pedigree as one of the greatest female windsurfers in history. With unquestionably the best tactics, board speed and turning ability, Jaggi truly deserves another racing event title. Ghibaudo, her closest racing rival, is perhaps the only figure in the women’s sport able to threaten Jaggi for now. Allison Shreeve (AUS-911, F2 / NeilPryde) has also showed promise, but despite her success on the Formula windsurfing scene has yet to show the level of turning skills required to compete at PWA Slalom 42, although her starting skills, tactical awareness and speed are excellent.
The PWA tour now rolls on to Alacati Turkey for the IFCA Slalom World Championships / PWA Slalom 42 World Cup from July 31st through August 7th.