Arnon Dagan, taken by Hagai Nativ
RedBull Stormrider Wavesailing Cup 2009
On 16/3/2009 the annual Redbull Stormrider wavesailing cup took place at the famous Bat Galim beach at Haifa, Israel. This wavesailing contest is held for the 8th successive year in row and attracts Israel’s leading wavesailors, such as PWA regulars Arnon Dagan (ISR-1), Ron Barel (ISR-60) and Eyal Shelef (ISR-43), along with many other famous local sailors and young up-and-comers. The contest is run on an invitational basis and enjoys a waiting period of 2 weeks to ensure it will be held at the best possible conditions.
The venue for the contest is Israel’s no.1 wavesailing beach, Batgalim, which offers supreme side to side-off waveriding conditions in almost any swell and wind combination. This year the contest was organized by two die-hard sailors- Arnon Dagan and Shachar Gal, who put out a lot of effort to raise sufficient funds, get the media coverage and summon the desired conditions… Their goal was not only to continue the successful format but to increase its appeal to the general public and especially the younger crowds.
The contest thus included a junior contest and a group of young sailors from all over the country was invited to watch the event and enjoy the action from up close. The pinnacle of the event (other than the sailing itself, off course) was to be a grand prize giving party at which the results were to be announced. The efforts of the two (aided by many, too many to list here) were answered when on the chosen day a group of 32 sailors and 12 junior sailors gathered at the beach to find nice conditions: 20-25 knots sideshore wind, and 1-2 meter waves. The order of the day was waveriding, with luck and timing required to clock the necessary three waves and two jumps.
The first round of the contest saw some long waverides and high jumps. After its completion (with no special upsets) the junior contest was held- two semi final heat accompanied by a spectacular final, in which the young sailors all displayed skill and courage while tackling the hard conditions. The winner was Itzik Horesh, aged 17, which convinced the judges with fluid waverides and an explosive aerial off the lip. Unlucky for the organizers, after the Junior final the conditions deteriorated swiftly, with storm clouds dumping massive amounts of rain and killing the wind. After several attempts to continue it was deemed too late to complete the contest and the quarter finals were postponed and scheduled for the next day with promising conditions.
Our luck failed when the day before the contest was due to continue saw a tragedy at BatGalim, a novice sailor headed out early in the morning in strong offshore winds. His absence was later reported by his work colleagues and a wide search operation started, using coastguard and navy boats and helicopters. The contest was put on hold as some of the local surfers assisted in the search which ended with the discovery of the surfer’s body, 15 miles to the north of Haifa. The organizers could not continue the contest off course and another postponement was declared. The waiting was not long though, and the following weekend saw a massive low hits the coast of Israel, bringing with it some high winds and swell. At the morning of the 28.2, only a few brave spectators came to the beach to see the courageous competitors fight it out in the raising sees and pouring rain. After a grueling day it came down to final heat of the day, starring local hero Arnon Dagan versus previous winner Adi Zomer. After the heat the two exhausted sailors came to shore and hurried to the closing ceremony.
At the ceremony all the competitors and many other friends found that Zomer narrowly beat Dagan to claim this year’s title. Third place was given to the veteran, Gadi Meents in front of Yossi Salomon. In addition to the general event results this year saw special prizes for Senior sailors (aged 37 and above who competed with the rest of the fleet), in which Gadi meents was ranked the highest, in front of Yossi Salomon and Moti Slavin. To counter the veterans the younger generation also took to the podium with first place for Itzik Horesh, second for Ohad Segal and third Nitzan Yeshuvi. The prize giving was followed by a raging party sponsored by Redbull in which video footage from the events was screened. All in all, and despite of the long duration and many upsets during the contest this was one of the best Stormrider events ever. Plan for next year are already underway and the word is that maybe the event will once again gain PWA invitational status as in 2006. To find more details regarding this world class beach and to view full galleries of the event check its website at: