The opening day of the 2017 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam – sponsored by René Egli – began with a bang as freestyle exploded on to the world tour. Fuerte provided the world class conditions it is renowned for – with stunt ramps and strong winds providing the ideal playground for the contortionists of the freestyle world to show what they are capable of and by the end of the first day of competition only the top 4 women and top 8 men remain standing in the single eliminations.
In the women’s fleet, all of the top seeds safely survived their opening heat. First of all Oda Johanne (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) produced a solid display to defeat Birgit Rieger (Flikka), while reigning vice-world champion Maaike Huvermann (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) looked to be in good form as she progressed against Hanna Poschinger (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg), who was making her debut on the PWA World Tour and won her opening heat against Alexa Escherich (JP / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins). Last year’s world No.2 and No.3 will now face each other in the semifinals.
In Heat 22a Arrianne Aukes (Fanatic / NorthSails / Maui Ultra Fins) sailed well to navigate her way past a tricky second round heat against Olya Raskina (JP / NeilPryde). The Russian made the brighter start to the heat, but as time progressed Aukes found her rhythm as she put together a fine heat by the end with shakas on both tacks. The 30-year-old now faces a tall order in the semifinal where she will face 9-time freestyle world champion – Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) – who busted out culos, burners and regular konos to post the highest heat of the day – 99.5 points.
Antony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sail) had been in excellent form all day – posting the highest score of the first round – 153.6 points – before narrowly defeating Youp Schmit (99NoveNove / Avanti) in the second round to set up a tie against the current vice-world champion and reigning event champion Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne). The Frenchman continued his fine form and by the end of the heat there was just 0.03 of a point between them. Vrieswijk landed a kabikuchi in the dying moments of the heat, which proved pivotal and swung the heat in his favour. Both sailors were missing a move on port tack, so if Ruenes could have landed one of his air chachoo attempts then he would’ve progressed, but now he will have to wait for the double elimination to come back. So, Vrieswijk goes on and will meet Steven Van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde / Shamal Sunglasses) in the quarterfinals.
Man on a Mission
Former world champion – Steven Van Broeckhoven – came out with all guns blazing today as he consistently posted some of the highest scores of the day to win both of heats with ease – dispatching of Loick Spicher (RRD / RRD Sails) and Albert with an explosive repertoire of powerful aerial moves and combos.
Sailor of the Day
7-time PWA Freestyle World Champion – Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / NorthSails) posted the highest scoring heat of the day proving he means business again this year as he goes on a quest for world title No.8. The Venezuelan racked up 175.3 points against Sam Esteve (JP / NeilPryde) with a combination of radical jumping – stalled forward, air chachoo and a pushloop – as well as pulling off technical combos such as double burners and double culos. Plus he also landed a new combination… a shuvit forward loop, which he punched the air in celebration upon landing.
Antoine Albert (Goya Windsurfing) produced the first major upset of the competition as the New Caledonian ended the hopes of Taty Frans (Starboard / GA Sails / Mystic) in the second round with a textbook kabikuchi and a technical spock into kono inflicting the majority of the damage.
Heat 19b was always going to be a close heat between Tonky Frans (RRD / RRD Sails) and Dieter van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne) and that’s the way it played out. Originally it looked as though Tonky had booked his place in the next round, but unfortunately for the Bonairean a couple of van der Eyken’s moves had been incorrectly judged, which resulted in the result being overturned and the Belgian will now face Jacopo Testa (RRD / RRD Sails).
Testa came into the event off of recent success in Lanzarote and the Italian carried that confidence and form into today as he clinically dispatched of Davy Scheffers (Tabou / GA Sails), who will be disappointed with his result in the single, before going on to defeat last year’s world No.5 Philip Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks) with another impressive display.
Elsewhere, Kiri Thode progressed against Balz Müller (Patrik / Severne), but Müller had his chances to reverse the result. However, he overcooked too many of his moves and was crucially missing a move on port tack. The 2013 world champion will now face Yentel Caers (JP / Point-7) in what should be another pulsating duel.
Adrien Bosson (Fanatic / NorthSails / Maui Ultra Fins) is the remaining sailor to have booked his place in the quarterfinals after the Frenchman beat fellow countryman – Nicolas Akgazciyan (99NoveNove / Challenger Sails / Maui Ultra Fins) in Heat 18a.