The 2004 Fuerteventura PWA Freestyle and Super X Grand Slam Day 3
Another windy day welcomed the windsurfing hordes to Sotavento this morning ready for the start of the second round of Freestyle here at the 2004 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam. Going into round 2, Ricardo Campello (JP, Neil Pryde) and Daida Moreno (Mistral, North) were sitting pretty at the top of the event ranking, having eliminated all competition in the first 2 days, putting them in an almost unassailable position for the event win. There was however, no shortage of believers ready to rise to the challenge of tackling the two at the top.
The standard of Freestyle has risen dramatically over recent years and Sotavento provides the finest arena for the best in the world to really showcase that improvement. Twelve months ago we were seeing an influx of switch stance and clew first moves, for 2004 we are now seeing a whole new range of tricks including the Air Chacho - basically a forward loop during which the rider ducks the sail in mid air, half way through the rotation and lands clew first; the Air Flaka - a standard 360 degree horizontal rotation into wind, performed entirely in the air; and the Gozzada - a move that is initiated from a position of sailing switch-stance and back to sail before going into a Spock 540!! With creative moves like this permeating the existing abundance of tricks, it is a very exciting time in Freestyle Windsurfing. For those in need of assistance in understanding these maneuvers, check Dr Beat's Windsurfing Kamasutra DVD, at http://www.windsurfingkamasutra.com/.
The preliminary heats of the second elimination contained their usual amount of upset. By the time the men had been reduced to the top sixteen there were a few shining stars of the first 2 days missing from the lineup. Antony Ruenes (Naish) fell by the wayside to UK's Ben Proffitt (JP, Neil Pryde) and Kevin Mevissen (JP, Neil Pryde) was narrowly eliminated by Martin Van Geenhoven.
When another 8 men were gone, Tonky Frans (F2, Gaastra) was nowhere to be seen after coming up against a much improved Robby Swift (JP, Neil Pryde) and neither was Diony Guadagnino (Neil Pryde) after his on the water confrontation with Kauli Seadi (AHD, Naish). Taking their places in the top 8 were Proffitt and Norman Günzlein (JP, Neil Pryde) who were having a great day so far.
Douglas "Cheo" Diaz (Fanatic, North) was back on form again, and wasted no time in taking out the other Frans brother Taty (Starboard, Gaastra). That left him facing Seadi in the semi final. Proffitt's run of luck finally ran out in the face of Günzlein and World Champion Campello stopped Remko De Weerd (Fanatic, Gaastra) in his tracks to make up the final four.
The semis were an interesting blend of refined South American talent and raw amateur German enthusiasm. Cheo and Seadi were pushing the limits trying to outdo each other but in the end pushing too hard as Seadi outdid himself, falling frequently and letting the Venezuelan into the final. Günzlein looked pretty impressive, nearly landing a Gozzada, and would have deserved to have won against many of the higher ranked competitors, but not against Campello. The World Number 1 let fly with another barrage of Gozzadas, Ponch's and Switch Stance maneuvers that left the German floundering in his wake. The final would be all Venezuelan.
In the ladies side of the contest, it was no surprise to see Moreno joined in the quarter finals by Karin Jaggi (F2, Arrows), Nayra Alonso (Fanatic) and Sylvia Alba (Neil Pryde). Jaggi seemed to have given the previous two days competition some serious thought, and attacked the today's contest with renewed vigor. All four girls Spocked and jumped their way to the final, but Jaggi was looking stronger than ever, even landing Flakas on the way to her inevitable showdown with Moreno
The wind had picked up a little by the time the two giants of women's windsurfing joined battle and both were maxed out as the final began. Moreno opened with a Forward Loop followed by a Spock but went down hard on the landing. Jaggi also crashed her first Spock attempt, as Moreno planed cleanly through another on the outside of the course. It was obvious that they knew there as no holding back and they pushed the limits hard in he strong winds. Both girls went for their flagship maneuver, the Flaka, but both fell again. Jaggi tried two Grubbies at full speed but again did not have enough control over the chop to slide through them.
The fight was so intense that at one point Jaggi nearly collided with Moreno whilst blasting downwind, clew first looking for her next trick. Close to the end of the heat, Moreno ducked the sail to go clew first and after briefly wrestling to control her equipment, planed powerfully through a clew first Spock, a technical move that guaranteed her the edge. In the end there was no dispute as the judges once more awarded victory to Daida Moreno.
The men's final was a match up of two of the most naturally talented Freestylers on the PWA Tour. Both from Venezuela and both under twenty years old, Ricardo Campello and Douglas "Cheo" Diaz found themselves face to face for the third time this contest. The green flag went up and the ensuing melee was some of the hottest Freestyle action ever to be seen. Cheo landed exceptional moves including Switch Stance Flaka 180's but fell on some of the simpler aspects of his repertoire. Campello also had his share of mishap crashing his first Gozzada attempt and his previously secret new move that has not even been named yet. In keeping with tradition though, he waltzed through his second Gozzada as well as landing a high Shaka to leave his fellow countryman in second place by a 4 - 1 decision of the judges.
Tomorrow will bring the final Freestyle action in this year's Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam, before the Super X starts on Thursday. Moreno and Campello have done enough to secure their Freestyle win but the race for second place is still very much alive behind them.