GRAN CANARIA VARGAS, AGUIMES PWA WAVE WORLD CUP 2003 DAY 4

Finally the weather gods are back on side, bringing us wind and waves and

the start of the 2003 PWA Wave World Cup in Vargas, Gran Canaria.

Competition started the moment the wind was strong enough, but the first

heat was quickly abandoned when none of the windsurfers were able to land

the two required jumps. The format was adjusted to better suit the light

winds with only one jump and two waves to count.

Jason Polokow (JP / Neil Pryde) made his come back debut convincingly

winning his heat against the young Englishman Andy Funnel (F2 / Arrows).

He's won every World Cup event he's been able to compete at in the last

two years, but due to a series of horrific injuries he's not been able to

do enough events to get an overall ranking, or indeed take the World Wave

Champion title that he dominated in the mid nineties. Jason said "I'm

winging it here. My foot isn't going to heal for a few years yet and I'm

on pain killers just to be able to sail."

Sure enough, since he's been here he's almost only sailed for the ten

minute duration of his heat, but that was enough to show the rest of the

PWA sailors and the judges that he's still the man to look out for.

Another outstanding windsurfer today is fellow Australian Scott McKercher

(Starboard), who although doesn't have to compete until the next round due

to his high placed seeding, was ripping and showing the PWA that he too

means business for 2003.

The second, third and fourth heats ran smoothly with no major upsets to

the highest ranking sailors challenged by the less experienced. Australian

Greg "Grubby" Allaway (JP / Neil Pryde) beat hot shot Luca Orsi (Neil

Pryde) from the neighboring island of Tenerife. And Dario Ojeda one of

Gran Canaria's wildest and best wave sailors clearly showed the tourists

who's boss round here beating the newcomer from Norway, Andre Andreassen.

Britain's Tristan Boxford (Gaastra) and Robby Swift (JP / Neil Pryde) both

took honors but only due to their superior wave riding skills. 90 kilo

Tristan virtually only planed once going out and managed to just spin

around a low back loop to clock up a few points, whilst the lightweight

local who'd been tipped for the top, Regis Bouron, landed a massive back

loop to take an early lead in the heat. Tristan fought back though with a

couple of decent waves showing that his aggressive and dynamic riding

skills could see him beat even the most fearsome challenge.

Likewise Swifty disposed of Tonky Frans (AHD / Gaastra) also by showing

better wave riding skills. Both Tonky and Regis scored highest for overall

impression, but that paled into insignificance as riding waves scores more

points. No surprise in heat four, another Aussie took top honors! Luke

Walmsley (Starboard) beat the well trained Englishman Matt Pearch (Mistral

/ North) in tough conditions as the wind began to die.

Heat five was abandoned as the wind dropped but the clear leader was yet

another Australian Ty Bodycoat (Starboard). Team-mate Levi Siver

(Starboard) is rating Ty as having "sick turns" which in surfing jargon

is

about the highest praise.

Unfortunately a dark cloud moved over Gran Canaria and the PWA event here

in Vargas, putting both these entities into double jeopardy as the wind

vanished.

By mid afternoon at high tide, the skies had cleared and the wind was back

at over twenty knots, and although the swell seemed to have increased, at

high tide in Vargas it wasn't big enough to break far enough out for wave

sailors to do much wave riding, so the contest remained postponed.

The wave sailors who are shining through today were all on pretty big

boards to help maintain their speed throughout their turns. Because the

waves were only about shoulder high and moving slowly, they were pretty

weak, making it tricky to really surf them. Windsurfers were relying

almost only on the power from their sails and their own skills to keep

their boards moving quick enough to carve good turns and cutbacks in these

really challenging conditions.

Evidently today was a good day for the Aussies, but can they hold their

form tomorrow as the wind and swell forecast remains good?