Gran Canaria the popular holiday destination for European sunseakers is hosting

the opening regatta of the Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA) 2001 World

Tour. Sixty-six wave sailors - the sport's international elite and local challengers

have gathered for a Wave Grand Prix that will run until April 20th. Both the

reigning Overall Wave Champion, Argentinean Francisco Goya and the former titleholder,

Spain's Bjorn Dunkerbeck are competing. Both are under the spotlight. For Francisco,

it's his first defence and for Bjorn, he'll be competing in home waters for

the first time since losing his crown. This is also the first opportunity for

Dunkerebck to compete using Proof boards. The 13 times World Champion left his

long-term sponsor F2 at the end of last season.

Gran Canaria is an old favourite for the tour and has become famous over the

years for its nuclear winds. This is the first time Vargas has played host to

the World Tour and is the first of two wave events to be held in Gran Canaria

this year. Today the wind gradually filled in throughout the day but never really

built up to the necessary strength needed for competition.

The first contest of any season always presents it's own special challenge

to sailors after the winter break, even more so when it is held at a brand new

venue. Despite the wind and waves not delivering the goods most of the sailors

were still tempted to get wet and use the opportunity for some last minute practice.

Matt Pritchard was one of the first to take to the water and is back competing

after nearly a year out of action following an ankle injury sustained in Gran

Canaria last year. He will be eager to get back to the top and challenge his

younger brother Kevin Pritchard who took the Overall World Title in his absence

last season. Other names to watch out for here in Vargas are Nik Baker, Peter

Voltwater, Levi Siver, Vidar Jensen and Josh Stone. All are hungry to challenge

Goya for the wave title.

The forecast for the rest of the week is looking excellent and winds up to

force eight are expected over the weekend.


"I am looking forward to competing for sure. I am glad we did not compete

today because the conditions were not the best. On the first day we are usually

just getting tuned in to the conditions. I have been practising hard for this

event and done everything I can to prepare. The guys I am watching out for are

Josh Stone, Bjorn and Levi Siver. They are the ones who can put the package

together and needed to win the event"