As predicted the 2017 Gran Canaria Wind & Waves Festival hit the ground running and almost a full day of competition was possible on the opening day. Howling winds greeted the competitors and by the end of the day even the guys were fully overpowered on 3.7s such was the ferocity of the wind. Despite the waves remaining relatively small the best sailors in the world still managed to pull off some remarkable tricks as the level on the world tour continues to go through the roof.
Only the top 8 girls remain standing after the opening day of the 2017 Gran Canaria Wind & Waves Festival with the first round being completed in tricky conditions with strong winds and intermittent waves prevailing.
In the first heat of the day last year’s world No.3 – Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) – stole the show as the 26-year-old showed her sailing has gone to another level again. On her way to victory against Marine Hunter (KA Sails), Offringa pulled off a stylish pushloop why’ll fluidly linking together some solid vert turns. On the a-side Birgit Rieger dispatched of Italian Nicole Bandini (Fanatic / NorthSails).
Heat 2 saw reigning world champion Iballa Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) in action for the first time and she made a winning start as she ended the hopes of Maria Andrés (Fanatic / NorthSails) with a textbook tabletop forward and a solid first wave doing the majority of the damage. Meanwhile, Caterina Stenta (RRD / RRD Sails / Maui Ultra Fins) produced a buzzer beater as her last minute forward saw her pip fellow Italian Serena Zoia (99NoveNove / LoftSails) to a place in the quarterfinals by just quarter of a point.
The penultimate women’s heat of the day saw Justyna Sniady (Simmer / Simmer Sails / Mystic) produce a polished display to progress over Greta Benvenuti (Patrik / Point-7 / AL360). There were fears that the Pole may not be able to sail due to injuring her foot last week, but she put those worries to bed by quickly landing a forward loop and clean backie. On the b-side of Heat 3, Lina Erpenstein (Patrik / Severne) claimed a clinical victory against the youthful talent of Alexa Escherich (JP / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins).
Daida Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) earned the highest scores of the day as she laid down the gauntlet to show everyone else why she is the favourite for the event title. The multiple time world champions best moment saw her land an outstanding one-handed backloop to earn 8.75 points – ending the heat on a total of 21.25 points. Daida will now face Sarah Hilder (Simmer / Simmer Sails) in the next round after the Brit defeated Arrianne Aukes (Fanatic / NorthSails) – with her wave riding proving to be the difference between the two of them.
In the opening round the majority of the sailors who you would expect to progress did, but there was one major upset as Jules Denel (JP / NeilPryde) suffered a first-round exit at the hands of local José Romero Santana (Mistral / Challenger Sails). The Frenchman didn’t sail a bad heat but ran into an inspired opponent who landed an 8 point double forward as well as linking together two waves in the excellent range.
Antoine Martin (JP / NeilPryde) produced one of the performances of the day in Heat 9 as he took down Moritz Mauch (Severne / Severne) in a close fought heat in which both sailors excelled on the wave. Martin actually earned the first perfect 10 of the competition after he landed a superb Klei and the 23-year-old will now face fellow Frenchman – Thomas Traversa (Tabou / GA Sails) – in Round 3 after TT progressed at the expense of Pablo Ramirez (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg).
Meanwhile, Adam Lewis (Fanatic / NorthSails) and Alex Mussolini (RRD / RRD Sails) safely navigated their way in the next round with victories over Kenneth Danielsen (Flikka / Simmer) and Julian Salmonn (Severne / Severne) respectively.
Omar Sanchez (Carbon Art / KA Sail) produced a fine, late comeback to cause an upset against Klaas Voget (Fanatic / NorthSails) and the local will now face Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde / SWOX / Mystic) in Heat 18a after the Brit produced an accomplished display to advance ahead of Marc Paré (Simmer / Simmer Sails), who will now have to wait for the double elimination to try and make a comeback.
Before the event, many people believed that Alessio Stillrich (Fanatic / NorthSails) would pose a real danger and have a genuine shot at putting together a deep run in the contest and based on his opening performance today there is every chance that he will be battling it out in the latter stages. The 22-year-old looked in impressive form as he pulled off a trademark planing tweaked pushloop as well as landing a planing backloop and a well executed double forward. Stillrich will have to be at the top of his game though as next up for him will be the ominous figure of Philip Köster (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins), who looked like he’d never been away as he clinically dispatched of Gustav Haggstrom (RRD / RRD Sails) with a perfect double and a combination of tricks and turns on the wave earning him the highest score of the day – 24.12 points – not a bad way to mark your return from injury!
Leon Jamaer (JP / NeilPryde) safely navigated his way into Round 3 with a routine victory over Flo Jung (Starboard / Gun Sails / Maui Ultra Fins) and the German will now face Jaeger Stone (Starboard / Severne / SWOX / Shamal Windsurfing Sunglasses). For a while, the Australian was in a spot of bother against 17-year-old Loick Lesauvage (Goya Windsurfing / Shamal Windsurfing Sunglasses), who sailed well again, but by the end of the heat Stone reeled in his opponent to deservedly earn his place in the next round.
Heat 14 witnessed Ricardo Campello (Point-7) and Marcilio Browne (Goya Windsurfing) in action for the first time and they both produced standout displays to progress. Browne produced one of the best double forwards of the day to earn perfect 10s, while Campello wasn’t far behind as he landed a 9.62 point double of his own while attempting the only pushloop forward of the contest so far. Victory for Campello and Browne means they will now face each other in a mouthwatering Round 3 duel.
Aleix Sanllehy (Tabou / GA Sails) looked to be in excellent form as he won both of his opening two heats and he will now face Dany Bruch (Starboard / Flight Sail / AL360 / Shamal Windsurfing Sunglasses) in Heat 20a – while Dieter van der Eyken produced a superb display to send local specialist Josep Pons (Simmer / Simmer) packing his bags, but he may have to raise his game even higher if he wants to keep his hopes alive as up next he’ll be facing reigning world champion – Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / NorthSails / Shamal Windsurfing Sunglasses) – who produced a solid performance to defeat Eric Sanllehy (Goya Windsurfing) and you can expect to see him improve from here on.
At the end of day one the top seeds are still standing and they’ll be readying themselves for another of action tomorrow with potentially even stronger winds than today and hopefully bigger waves, but that is not guaranteed as although the wave size is predicted to be bigger the period is short so we will have to wait and see what the conditions bring. The sailors will meet again tomorrow morning at 10am with the action commencing from 10:30am (GMT+1) – if conditions allow. Make sure you tune into www.pwaworldtour.com to follow all of the radical action as it happens via the PWA live stream.