A gentle start to the 2011 Fuerteventura Grand Slam allowed the spectators to flock to the beach, the sailors to focus their minds on the battle ahead and the atmosphere to intensify as the morning progressed.
By midday the wind was blowing around 15-20 knots and the sun was shining, providing the perfect start to the competition. Head judge Duncan Coombs wasted no time in unleashing the freestyle fleet onto the water at 12:30pm, announcing the best three out of six moves would count towards the sailors’ scores.
A smooth set of heats saw many of the tour regulars slip seamlessly past their opponents in the opening round of competition. Youp Schmit (JP / NeilPryde / Dakine) dominated in the first heat of the day taking down new boy to the tour Tony Mottus (JP / NeilPryde). Bryan Metcalf-Perez (JP / NeilPryde / Dakine) quickly disposed of Ezri Heymans with his perfect ponch and forward loop combination. Brit Max Rowe (Fanatic / North) slayed Sten Aava, planing out of the majority of his maneuvers, and Slovakia’s Andraz Zan (F2 / Hot Sails) came out all guns blazing to beat Mauricio Alvarez (Patrik / Gaastra).
Schmit continued on a path of destruction, working his way past the super technical Nicolas Akgazciyan (Starboard / Gun) and the double move master, Davy Scheffers (Tabou / Gaastra) in two incredible heats to earn him a position in the top eight. Schmit’s superior consistency and explosive maneuvers in the complex conditions won him the all-important judges’ votes.
The second round of competition witnessed the higher ranked sailors come out to play, bringing with them an armory of mind-blowing maneuvers.
The highest scoring heat of the day was awarded to slick Belgian superstar, Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2 / Gaastra). Van Broeckhoven earned himself twenty-seven out of a possible thirty points in his heat against Christofer Kalk (Fanatic / Gaastra), landing monster shakas, ankle dry culos and enormous ponchs.
Bar Schmit, the only sailor to break through the barrier formed by the top seeded sailors and into the top sixteen was Brazilian Ian Mouro Lemos (JP / NeilPryde). Mouro Lemos stole the show with a well thought out routine of burners, air flakas and switch chachoos.
Down to the top sixteen and the conditions were becoming ever more complex as the rising tide brought with it larger chop for the sailors to contend with, as well as the judges announcing that the best four out of seven moves would count towards the sailors’ scores.
Eager to put on a show and earn a position in the top eight, the sailors decided it was time to unleash their most daring maneuvers. Van Broeckhoven burst into a gravity defying culo to secure his victory over Yegor Popretinskiy (JP / NeilPryde / MFC). Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra) wowed the crowds with a super clean culo-spock and a double spock in the choppiest patch of water, and Jose Estredo (Fanatic /North) launched into a perfect air chachoo to defeat Leo Ray (Naish / Naish / MFC).
Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra) and Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra) sailed a particularly impressive set of heats displaying their unique style, landing backloops off the smallest of waves and incredible ponchs in ankle deep water. Taty advanced past Mouro Lemos, however Tonky dropped a few critical moves, falling victim to the consistency of Quincy Offringa (Starboard).
The men’s quarter finals will kick off tomorrow morning with Schmit vs Van Broeckhoven & Phil Soltysiak (Starboard / Dakine) vs Thode in heat 21.
The opening two heats of the women’s single elimination were completed when the conditions were at their most testing. The women had to be particularly selective where they performed their moves in order to avoid the large patches of choppy water.
Laure Treboux (Fanatic / North) opened up women’s heat 21 on fine form landing a clean set of maneuvers to see her advance through to the semi-finals past new girl to the tour Danielle Lucas (S everne). On the other side of the heat the Venezuelan style queen Yoli De Brendt (Fanatic / North) defeated Mio Anayama (NeilPryde) with an enormous forward loop and her super smooth spocks.
In the second women’s heat of the day Arrianne Aukes (RRD / Simmer / Dakine / AL 360) and Xenia Kessler (JP / NeilPryde) went head to head for the sixth time this season. Kessler looked to be struggling with the choppy conditions allowing Aukes to squeeze ahead and into the semi-finals. Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic) blitzed her way past Svetlana Martynova landing all the big moves, warning the rest of the fleet that she means business in Fuerteventura.
With the conditions deteriorating the sailors were released at 5pm. Day two of the 2011 PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam will kick off at 10:30am with the skippers’ meeting, and a first possible start to competition at 11am.
Scope the action
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Photo Credit: PWA John Carter