Remko De Weerd (Gaastra, Fanatic) of Holland has won a sensational opening

round of freestyle here at the Catalunya, Costa Brava, PWA Freestyle

qualifier. The twenty- six-year-old Dutch sailor was on fire today and won

a riveting final despite a formidable display from seventeen-year-old

Nicolas Akgazciyan (Neil Pryde) of France. In the losers final, the fluid

sailing skills of Frank Lewisch (Gaastra) of Austria proved too much for

Mariano Estivill (Arrows) of Argentina in the battle for third place.

Today's action was held in 12-18 knot winds, small waves and wall to wall

sunshine; ideal for freestyle action.

De Weerd was in the opening heat this morning, which kicked off at 10.15

a.m. and immediately set the pace - his extensive repertoire included

flakas both ways, spock 540's, forward loops and tweaked out shuv-its.

Advancing through heats against Xavier Torres Isach, Federico La Croce

(Fanatic), Orjan Jensen (North) and Frank Lewisch (Gaastra) there was

simply no stopping his smooth style on route to the final.

On the other half of the draw it was the new French sensation Nicholas

Akgazciyan, who was the surprise finalist after he won through gripping

heats against Raimondo Gasperini (Fanatic), Paulo Ianetti (Neil Pryde),

Christian Sammer (F2, Arrows) and Mariano Estivill. Akgazciyan lives close

by in Luecate France hence being no stranger to these conditions. His list

of moves today was packed full of the latest new school freestyle stunts

and included switch stance flakas, spock diablos and planning one handed

forwards.

The two-quarter finals were the key heats of the day. In the top half of

the draw Remko managed to eliminate Canarian jump specialist Orjan Jensen

(North) while Frank Lewisch won a tough battle against Spanish hotshot

Victor Fernandez Lopez (Fanatic). In bottom half of the ladder Akgazciyan

took down Austrian freestyle specialist Christian Sammer whilst Mariano

Estivill caused the biggest shock of the day by defeating Norwegian wild

flyer Vidar Jensen.

The semi finals saw Remko and Nicolas both advancing comfortably although

Lewisch and Estivill both battled courageously.

The wind dropped down a notch during the six minute final allowing Remko

to display his early planning skills and light wind trickery. After

nailing a sweet willy skipper 540 on his first run towards the beach, the

flying Dutchman managed to gybe, pump onto the plane and pull of the only

flaka of the final. Akgazciyan replied with several spock variations but

Remko's display was clearly superior and won the favor of the judges.

Remko De Weerd (Gaastra)

"I am very happy about winning. In the final the conditions were very

hard. I was doing flakas both ways in the earlier heats and I think there

are not so many people that can do that here. I think that was one of my

main advantages today. Most people can only do them one way - if you can

show of to the judges you can do moves either way I think it helps!

Nicholas Akgazciyan (Neil Pryde)

I am very, very pleased to make the final. I am from Luecate and am used

to sailing in much stronger winds than today. During the final the wind

was very light. I tried my best.

Action continued until late in the afternoon with the double elimination

but gusty winds eventually forced competition to be abandoned at 6 p.m.

Tomorrows skippers meeting has been brought forward to 9 a.m. for with the

first possible start scheduled for 9.30. The locals are calling for more

Tramontana winds so it looks like we should be in for another day of

scintillating freestyle action. As it stands Remko De Weerd is sitting in

pole position but the rest of the fleet will be hungry to fight back if

the wind cooperates tomorrow. Watch this space for the latest news as the

story unfolds!

RESULTS

1. Remko De Weerd (Gaastra, Fanatic).

2. Nicolas Akgazciyan (Neil Pryde).

3. Frank Lewisch (Gaastra).

4. Mariano Estivill (Arrows).