Foresight has proven accurate in Lanzarote today, as the reigning World Champions held their ground at the top of the leader-board. Costa Teguise provided epic conditions, allowing a gargantuan battle commence in a race for the top. The wind filled in to a solid 25 knots that ripped across the pier, as the fleet performed excellently in front of a massive crowd. Ultimately, predictions were fulfilled, as the favourites dominated the single elimination.
As action commenced, it was clear that the level of freestyle has improved exponentially this year. In order to progress, every sailor had to be at his or her best; in an event where technical brilliance simply wasn’t enough. Today, an emphasis was needed on ‘style’, as the competitors fought hard to personalise their routines and wow their critics.
The early men’s round saw a disappointing exit for France’s Leo Ray (Naish/Naish/MFC) at the hands of one of the most exciting up-and-coming athletes in the sport, Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2/MauiSails).
Andre Paskowski (Fanatic/North Sails), Nicolas Akgazciyan (Starboard/Gun Sails), Ian Mouro Lemos (JP/NeilPryde) and Maarten Van Ochten (JP/NeilPryde/MFC) each cruised through their first rounds, it was soon evident that the super-styled new school were going to prove tricky to beat in the later stages. First blood was drawn when a strong Marcillo Browne (Fanatic/North) felled the ultra-talented Michael Rossmeir (Exocet/TheLoft) in the day’s first split-decision, thanks to a flawless combination of culos, double flakas, and conos. Later, Anthony Ruenes (Tabou) was put to the sword despite sailing brilliantly against the outstanding Jose Estredo (Fanatic/North Sails).
Tonky Frans (F2/Gaastra) and Taty Frans (Starboard/NorthSails) outshone their opponents early on, thanks to a unique, smooth style that has always proved successful. However, indicating the level of the competition this year, even these two maestros couldn’t suppress the charge by World Champion Estredo, or local-hero Antxon Otaegui (JP/NeilPryde/MFC) on their path to the final. The other end of the draw saw Kiri Thode (Starboard/Gaastra) take on Marcillo Browne (Fanatic/North), where Thode was quick to stamp his authority on the heat.
As most insiders predicted, the ultimate show-down between the men this afternoon was between Thode and Estredo. Their final witnessed a flawless competition, with spectators and fellow competitors alike watching in awe as they executed moves with gravity-defying height, and composure. An air-flaka-diablo on the horn by Thode made the result even tighter, as the judges struggled to find flaw with either competitor. In the end, it was with a 0.5 difference that a relieved Estredo punched the sky in delight as he was pronounced winner of the first round.
As the double elimination progressed, stand out performances by Andy Chambers (JP/NeilPryde), Philip Soltysiak (Starboard), Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2/MauiSails) left the top sailors nervously waiting on the beach. On the same side of the ladder, the Frans brothers met in the most exciting heat of the day. Both sailed immaculately, but in the dying minutes of the heat that Tonky finally nailed the newest trick on the freestyle circuit – a forward loop-flaka. Tonky has been attempting this move for some time, and it finally paid off as he clinched the position ahead of his brother to face Van Broeckhoven in the final men’s heat of the day. On his best form, the Belgian did enough to displace Frans, ending his day on a high with his sights set firmly on the top spot.
The women really impressed with the competitors showing a varied, yet consistent, trick base. First on the water was Yolanda De Brend (Fanatic/NorthSails), who had to sail impeccably against a determined Xenia Kessler (MauiSails) to advance through thrilling heat. The Venezuelan pulled off a fantastic grubby in the opening minutes of the heat, piling the pressure on her adversary. Both Nayra Alonso (Fanatic/Severne) and Silvia Orozco (MFC) did enough to progress the first round against great challenges by Olga Raskina (JP/NeilPryde) and Michaela Malina (JP/NeilPryde), respectively. Unfortunately for Alonso, a draw against the formidable Champion, Sarah Quita Offringa (Starboard/NeilPryde), left her needing success in the double elimination in order to come away with a deserved result.
The amazing standard that women’s windsurfing has reached caused an upset as the marvelled Iballa Ruano Moreno (NorthSails) lost out after an outstanding performance by Junko Nagoshi (Tabou). Nagoshi claimed flakas on both tacks, as well as faultless spocks – enough to send her through to the quarter finals. Meanwhile, both Laure Treboux (Fanatic/NorthSails) and Daida Ruano Moreno (NorthSails) fought hard to complete the Top 4.
As the final approached, the Swiss freestyle specialist looked like only true challnger against the super-talented Offringa who had been exceptional all day. Miss Treboux landed a grubby and a clew first spock in succession, as Bonaire’s Offringa planed out of a puneta, backed up by a perfect cono. It was to be Offringas day as she was awarded first place, in a 3-0 decision by the judges.
The double elimination followed immediately, with initial success for Nayra Alonso (Fanatic/Severne), as she found form and finished in the top six. Yolanda De Brend (Fanatic/NorthSails) ended Alonso’s fortune in the final heat of the day with an outstanding display that included perfect air-flakas on both tacks.
As events wound to a close this evening, it is clear that the World Champions have no intention of sharing their glory. We head into tomorrow looking forward to strengthening wind and waves, and the conclusion to the first thrilling double elimination.
1 – Estredo, Jose (Fanatic/NorthSails)
2 – Thode, Kiri ((Starboard/Gaastra)
3 – Browne, Marcillo (Fanatic/NorthSails)
4 – Otageui, Anxton (JP/NeilPryde/MFC)
1 – Offringa, Sarah-Quita (Starboard/NeilPryde)
2 – Treboux, Laure (Fanatic/NorthSails)
3 – Nagoshi, Junko (Tabou)
4 – Ruano Moreno, Daida (NorthSails)