Day 5 of the Mercedes-Benz Sylt PWA Super Grand Slam saw the mettle of the freestyler sailors tested to the limit as they competed in some of the toughest freestyle conditions seen for many seasons.
With bolt onshore wind, walls of whitewater everywhere and a strong side shore rip which was more like a river, many sailors struggled to even make it out for their heats, but the majority of the usual suspects still navigated their way into the latter stages of the elimination with 3 of the top 4 sailors from Fuerte claiming the podium positions in the single elimination – Gollito Estredo (Fanatic / NorthSails), Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne) and Jacopo Testa (RRD / RRD Sails).
7-time PWA Freestyle World Champion – Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / NorthSails) – came into the final freestyle event of the year leading the rankings and the Venezuelan edged ever closer to an 8th world title after claiming a hard fought victory against Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne). Gollito showed himself to be the ultimate competitor again today as he produced his highest scoring heat in the final to earn 128.3 points with an air kabikuchi and a stunning shifty being his standout manoeuvres.
With a rain squall causing the wind to pick up in the final Vrieswijk was overpowered on his 4.8m and couldn’t quite replicate the outstanding performance he produced in the semifinal against Antoine Albert (Goya Windsurfing) in which he recorded the highest scoring heat of the day 136 points as he landed a trademark double air culo. The Bonairean had generally looked in dominant form today, but he did face a major scare against Tonky Frans (RRD / RRD Sails) with Frans producing a jumping masterclass and in the end, Vrieswijk just scraped through by just 0.7 of a point from Heat 18b.
Jacopo Testa (RRD / RRD Sails / AL360) built upon his result from Fuerte where he finished 4th – his best result yet on the world tour- by securing the final place on the podium – showing that he is developing into one of the most dangerous freestyle sailors on the planet no matter the conditions. The Italian made the conditions today look relatively easy, where others struggled so badly and he’ll now aim to defend his place on the podium, which would also see him break into overall top 3 for the first time in his career.
Antoine Albert may have just missed out in the battle for 3rd but the New Caledonian will still be delighted with his efforts today after breaking into the top 4 for the first time in his career with an inspired display, which means he is guaranteed his best result ever on the world tour as he can now finish in 5th place at worse. The 23-year-old caused an upset as he took down current world No.3 Yentel Caers (JP / Point-7) in the 3rd round before also dispatching of Balz Müller (Patrik / Severne) to move into the semifinals.
Elsewhere in the single elimination France’s Sam Esteve (JP / NeilPryde) and Italy’s Mattia Fabrizi (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg) both advanced into the top 5 for the first time in their careers. Esteve faced former world champion Kiri Thode (JP) in the second round, but with the Bonairean failing to make it out the 19-year-old advanced before claiming the scalp of Philip Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks), but he couldn’t find a way past Vrieswijk in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Fabrizi first dispatched of Loick Spicher (RRD / RRD Sails) before causing one of the biggest upsets of the day as he defeated Steven Van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde), but unfortunately the 25-year-old then snapped his mast in the opening minutes of his quarterfinal against Gollito to end his chances of causing any further upsets.
Also finishing in joint 5th for the single are Balz Müller and Adrien Bosson (Fanatic / NorthSails / Maui Ultra Fins).
After a short break, the double elimination resumed and things looked a little easier, from the beach at least, with the angle slightly improving and the wind increasing.
Thomas Traversa (Tabou / GA Sails) defeated Tony Mõttus (JP / NeilPryde) in the single elimination before being a little unlucky to meet Gollito in Heat 16b – especially as he’d have easily progressed from Heat 16a with Julien Mas (JP / GunSails) progressing with just a landed flaka – with himself and Giovanni Passani (Tabou / GA Sails / AL360) having a nightmare getting out. Traversa then received a bye into the next round with Tilo Eber (JP / NeilPryde) not present – however, TT still produce an amazing eagle wing – but then chose to withdraw from the contest after slightly injuring himself to save himself for his main focus – the waves. While Passani successfully made it out in the double elimination to defeat Adam Sims (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg) and moved directly into the 3rd round with Traversa withdrawing.
Elsewhere, Loick Spicher (RRD / RRD Sails), Francesco Cappuzzo (RRD / RRD Sails / AL360), Nic Hibdige (Tabou / GA Sails), Youp Schmit (99NoveNove / Avanti), Max Rowe (Simmer / Simmer Style / Mystic), Davy Scheffers (Tabou / GA Sails) and Riccardo Marca (Fanatic / NorthSails) all progressed through the opening two rounds.
Meanwhile, Kiri Thode’s day went from bad to worse as the former world champion was knocked out in the first round of the double by Jeremy Plüss (Tabou / GA Sails), while Venezuela’s Deivis Paternina Teran (99NoveNove / Loft Sails) also suffered the same fate at the hands of Max Matissek (Fanatic / NorthSails). Paternina landed a sick air shuvit spock, but didn’t complete a single move on starboard tack. In Heat 34b Marco Lufen (Fanatic / NorthSails / Maui Ultra Fins) also failed to land a move on starboard tack, which is perhaps a testament to just how testing the conditions were.
The wind and wave machine looks set to continue tomorrow with potentially epic conditions forecast – westerly winds up to 40 knots accompanied by waves of up to 3.6m by the evening – which means it is likely that the plan will be to resume the wave contest tomorrow if those conditions do materialise. Tomorrow promises to be another action packed day so with this in mind the skippers’ meetings have been called for the following times: All Times (GMT+2)
Wave 8am – first possible start 8:30am
Slalom 10am – first possible start 10:30am
Freestyle 11am – first possible start 11:30am
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Result Men’s Freestyle Mercedes-Benz PWA Super Grand Slam – Single Elimination
1st Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / NorthSails)
2nd Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne)
3rd Jacopo Testa (RRD / RRD Sails / AL360)
4th Antoine Albert (Goya Windsurfing)
5th Sam Esteve (JP / NeilPryde)
5th Balz Müller (Patrik / Severne)
5th Mattia Fabrizi (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg)
5th Adrien Bosson (Fanatic / NorthSails / Maui Ultra Fins)
9th Yentel Caers (JP / Point-7)
9th Julien Mas (JP / Gun Sails)
9th Steven Van Broeckhoven (JP / Neilpryde / Shamal Sunglasses)
9th Philip Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks)
9th Antony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails)
9th Yegor Popretinskiy (Fanatic / NorthSails / Maui Ultra Fins / Flymount)
9th Tonky Frans (RRD / RRD Sails)
9th Nicolas Akgazciyan (99NoveNove / Challenger Sails / Maui Ultra Fins)