The 2004 Fuerteventura PWA Freestyle and Super X Grand Slam Day 1
Contrary to the howling condition that are usually expected at Sotavento,
the first morning of this years PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam, brought with
it light onshore breezes and rapidly rising temperatures. Following the
usual greetings at the 10 o’clock skippers meetings, the contest was put
into a holding pattern whilst competitors waited for wind.
It is unusual for Sotavento to stay calm for long and today was no
exception. By noon the wind had begun to fill in as the beach became a
frantic hive of activity with sailors hurriedly rigging and ferrying
equipment along the beach, ready for the afternoon’s freestyle showdown.
At quarter to two, the red flag went up for the first men’s heat and the
four sailors exploded on to the water like greyhounds chasing a rabbit.
There were no major upsets in the early heats, with almost all the results
going according to seeding, but in the second round disaster struck for
last years event winner and number 2 seed, Robby Swift (JP, Neil Pryde) as
he crashed out to rank outsider Antxon Otaegui (JP, Neil Pryde).
Taty Frans (Starboard, Gaastra) and Colin Sifferlen (Starboard) pushed
through to the quarter finals dispatching Jonas Ceballos (Fanatic,
Gaastra) and Julien Taboulet (JP, Neil Pryde) to the losers bracket, with
fluid moves including a variety of different Spocks ,Switch-Stance Chachos
and the move that is rapidly becoming commonplace amongst the freestylers
here, the Ponch.
Joining his brother in the quarters was the flamboyant Tonky Frans (F2,
Gaastra). Tonky sailed solidly and was busting out the big moves as well
as then next man, who in this case was Spain’s very own Victor Fernandez
(Fanatic) mixing new school freestyle with big air to knock out Otaegui
and avenge Swifts defeat.
Diony Guadagnino (Neil Pryde) is no stranger the final rounds of a
Freestyle contest and he made it to the top 8 quietly slipping by
youngster Kiri Thode (Starboard). But the second shock of the day was just
around the corner as Kevin Mevissen (JP, Neil Pryde) took down the current
world number 2 Kauli Seadi (AHD, Naish) leaving Brazil’s finest on the
losers bench just a few seats from Swift.
Current World number 1, Ricardo Campello (JP, Neil Pryde) looked a little
off form, but even an off form performance is impressive at that level.
With incredibly complex maneuvers, again including Switch-Stance Chacho’s
and Ponchs, executed with speed and grace, Campello exhibited flashes of
the incredible talent that made him World Champion in 2003. At times
though, the young Venezuelan pushed too hard and fell hard after what must
have been the biggest Shaka attempt of the contest.
Campello’s repertoire was however, enough to secure his advance over
Antony Ruenes (Naish) who was cut down by the World Champ despite
performing some incredible Flakas and probably the best Shaka’s of the
contest so far. Joining Campello and taking the last seat at the quarter
final table was Douglas “Cheo” Diaz (Fanatic, North) who had some of the
biggest moves of the day as well as probably the biggest smile on the
beach – someone who definitely enjoys his job!
Into the first quarter and Fernandez and Sifferlen fell easily to the
unbelievable precision and control of the Frans brothers who were both
sailing impeccably. Both accomplished perfect Air Flakas with military
precision as well as Air Chachos, Double Spock attempts and one of the
longest sliding Willy Skippers ever seen in competition.
Mevissen, who is looking very slick here in Fuerteventura, wasted no time
in dismissing Guadagnino who seemed underpowered and certainly off the
pace. Meanwhile, shock number 3 was in the making as Campello floundered
leaving the door open for Diaz to sneak through into the semis.
After their demonstration of skill in the quarters, the Frans brothers
finally met each other in the first semi final. Both were magnificent once
more, but there could be only one and with an armory that included near
perfect Air Flakas once more it was Tonky who progressed to meet the
winner of the Mevissen – Diaz showdown.
After his slick moves of the earlier rounds Mevissen seemed to be tiring
slightly and was unable to carry the same speed he had through the day.
Diaz did not sail his best either, but maintained enough consistency to
stay ahead of the young Dutch pretender and move into the final against Tonky.
The women’s event was a great indication of how much the feminine side of
the sport has moved on in recent years. With seventeen competitors here in
Fuerteventura, it is one of the most heavily subscribed contests for a
while and there is a lot of new talent. Including the stunning Tjernberg
sisters (North, AHD), from Sweden, the beautiful Ania Ostrowska from
Poland as well as a strong Austrian contingent in the shapely form of
Claudia Vogt and Uli Hölzl (F2, Arrows).
By the time the girls had been reduced to the final four however, it was
all the big names that remained. Karin Jaggi (F2, Arrows), Nayra Alonso
(Fanatic), Sylvia Alba (Neil Pryde) and who else but current Freestyle
numero uno, the near invincible Daida Moreno (Mistral, North).
Jaggi sailed very strongly to dispose of Alonso and secure her place in
the final and with her unique repertoire of one handed Forward Loops and
Flakas, it was Daida Moreno who triumphed over Alba to take the second slot.
Despite an expectably high level of sailing from Jaggi, Moreno still had
the edge. Daida pulled off a one handed Spock to which Jaggi immediately
replied with the same. Jaggi attempted a Grubby to which Moreno responded
with an even faster one. Both girls crashed their Flaka attempts, but with
one handed forward loops it was the young lady from Gran Canaria who
convinced the judges taking the final victory.
The men’s final was a true exhibition of flare and variety. Both Frans and
Diaz are true Freestyle masters and their routines were as varied as you
could imagine. Flakas, Air Flakas, Switch-Stance Chachos, Spocks and
Ponchs were traded back and forth as the 2 youngsters played in the surf.
Eventually it was the sheer consistency of Frans, who stayed on his feet
as Diaz repeatedly splashed down, that commanded the greatest respect and
With three days of Freestyle competition left, anything could happen in
what has traditionally proven to be one of the most radical Freestyle
contests on tour. Tomorrow will see today’s less fortunate sailors come
back to try their hand again in the Double Elimination of round one.
Will Tonky and Daida hold on at the top..? Stay tuned…