Day 6 of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz Sylt PWA Super Grand Slam certainly didn’t disappoint as the North Sea continued to provide dredging North Sea nuggets and storm force winds, which resulted in some of the most radical action of the season being thrown down as the world’s best sailors threw caution to the wind in their battle for glory. The conditions were so hardcore that Ricardo Campello (Point-7) classed it as the hardest conditions that he has ever sailed in.
At the start of the day all eyes were focused on the potential semifinal matchup between world title contenders – Philip Köster (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) and Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / NorthSails / Shamal Sunglasses) – and both sailors successfully navigated their ways past Thomas Traversa (Tabou / GA Sails) and Adam Lewis (Fanatic / NorthSails / SWOX) respectively to do just that.
Put simply, if Köster won the opening semifinal then he would officially be crowned world champion as he would be guaranteed 3rd place at worse in the double elimination and in order for Fernandez to deny the German he would need to finish at least 3 places ahead of him.
Unfortunately, for Köster, Fernandez was not ready to give up the chance of defending his world title and in the single elimination Fernandez was on another level to anyone else – launching into monstrous double forwards and backloops, while looking far more dynamic and effective on the wave as he effortlessly carried board speed, where others really struggled, from rail turn to rail turn to deservedly defeat Köster first and then Marcilio Browne (Goya Windsurfing) in the winners’ final.
Fernandez had done absolutely everything in his power to defend his world title, but with his fate out of his own hands, he would need a massive favour from fellow countryman – Alex Mussolini (RRD / RRD Sails) – in the losers’ final. Mussolini, who won the event here in 2016, outscored Köster on the waves but was lacking a second serious scoring jump to every really threaten Köster who landed a trademark double forward – meaning that at the end of the single elimination Köster still held the title race lead. However, the title wasn’t decided yet as Köster could still potentially fall one place to 4th, which would leave the door open for Fernandez to snatch the title – providing he could defend the top spot on the podium.
The Title Decider
In the single elimination Köster hadn’t looked quite as dangerous as he had in both Gran Canaria and Tenerife earlier this summer – whether that was down to nerves or purely the conditions being extremely tricky who knows, but in the double elimination, he raised his game to another level. In the title decider against Mussolini – when he should’ve have been at his most nervous and most under pressure he seemed to sail with a sense of freedom that left the result in no question as the 23-year-old posted the highest scoring heat of the contest, which saw him land another trademark double, while posting an almost perfect wave score of 19.45 points out of a possible 20 – performing a Klei – a wave move invented by Mussolini – and a goiter on the same wave to win his 4th world title in style! Köster was understandably delighted and was punching the air in celebration.
Marcilio Browne then defeated Köster in the very next heat in a duel which saw the wind swinging between starboard and port tack and driving rain. Browne was able to make the most of the limited conditions on offer to defend his second place from the single elimination and he will still have a shot to claim the event title if he can beat Fernandez twice. The Brazilian should already be quite happy with his performance here and throughout the season as he is guaranteed to complete the overall podium again and looks a genuine title challenger for next year.
Mussolini may not have been able to gain the upper hand over Köster today, but he still produced a few moments of magic with trademark 360s and 4th place here sees the Spaniard climb two places in the overall rankings from 6th to 4th.
Adam Lewis (Fanatic / NorthSails / SWOX) won 3 heats on the bounce to earn his best ever overall result on the world tour – 5th – and the Brit was obviously delighted with his efforts after ending Ricardo Campello’s comeback before also defeating Thomas Travers (Tabou / GA Sails) and Jaeger Stone (Starboard / Severne / SWOX / Shamal Sunglasses) as he continually attacked the heaviest sections he could find, while launching into massive one-footed double kick backloops. Lewis then faced Mussolini in a battle for 4th in the overall rankings, but his previous exerts in the draining conditions had clearly taken their toll by that point.
Jaeger Stone ends the season with his best result of the year – 6th – whilst Aleix Sanllehy (Tabou / GA Sails) records his best ever result – joint 7th alongside Thomas Traversa.
The top 10 is completed by Leon Jamaer (JP / NeilPryde), who won 3 consecutive heats with victories over Adrian Beholz (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg / Maui Ultra Fins), Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde / Mystic / SWOX) in a heat that was almost too close to call and Camille Juban (Quatro / Simmer Sails).
Alessio Stillrich (Fanatic / NorthSails) also fought his way back into joint 9th with victories over Gollito Estredo (Fanatic / NorthSails), Dany Bruch (Starboard / Flight Sails / AL360 / Shamal Sunglasses) and Josh Angulo (Angulo / S2Maui) – before Stone ended his hopes.
The same is also true for the exciting talent of Marc Paré (Simmer / Simmer Sails), who finishes the season with consecutive top 10 finishes after beating good friend Julian Salmonn (Severne / Severne Sails), Moritz Mauch (Severne / Severne Sails) before staging a late comeback to dispatch of Klaas Voget (Fanatic / NorthSails) again with a combination of frontside 360s and huge stalled forwards.
Pushloop Forward King
From the jumping aspect of his sailing you would never be able to tell that Ricardo Campello was sailing with an injured ankle as he landed 4 pushloop forwards in 3 heats to earn perfect 10s on two occasions – proving that he is the King of this move – in fact only Antoine Martin (JP / NeilPryde) was the only other sailor to land pushloop forward. However, while his jumping was still as radical as ever his ankle definitely affected his frontside wave riding, which eventually caught up and you’d have to think if fully fit then he could have advanced deeper into the double elimination than joint 9th.
The conditions today saw many outstanding performances with all the sailors absolutely charging in what were essentially true storm chase conditions and you have to take your hat off to the best sailors the world again as they produced a radical display in the most hardcore of conditions, but ultimately today belongs to Köster, who wins his 4th world title at the age of just 23-years-old.
After another long and exhilarating day of competition, the forecast looks a bit funky for tomorrow with different forecasts calling for different possibilities so we will have to wait and see what Thursday brings. The skippers’ meetings for all disciplines will be held at 10am tomorrow morning with a first possible start for the wave and freestyle at 10:30am – while the first possible start for the slalom will be 11am (GMT+2).
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Result Men’s Wave Mercedes-Benz PWA Super Grand Slam – Double Elimination
*Top Two Places May Change
1st Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / NorthSails / Shamal Sunglasses)
2nd Marcilio Browne (Goya Windsurfing)
3rd Philip Köster (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins)
4th Alex Mussolini (RRD / RRD Sails)
5th Adam Lewis (Fanatic / NorthSails / SWOX)
6th Thomas Traversa (Tabou / GA Sails)
7th Jaeger Stone (Starboard / Severne / SWOX / Shamal Sunglasses)
7th Aleix Sanllehy (Tabou / GA Sails)
9th Leon Jamaer (JP / NeilPryde)
9th Alessio Stillrich (Fanatic / NorthSails)
9th Ricardo Campello (Point-7 / Aeron)
9th Marc Paré (Simmer / Simmer Sails)