The opening day of the 2016 PWA Freestyle World Tour started in explosive fashion as winds gusting up to 40 knots battered Podersdorf for the entirety of the day. The sailors produced a fantastic performance as they not only had to contend with the howling winds and extremely choppy water, but also the icy cold biting wind. After an enthralling first day it is six-time PWA World Champion — Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / North / MFC) — who sits at the top of the rankings after claiming victory in the single elimination.
The opening winners’ final of the year saw an all Fanatic and North Sails line up as Adrien Bosson (Fanatic / North / Maui Ultra Fins) qualified for his first ever final after defeating reigning world champion — Dieter Van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne) — before going on to dispatch of Philip Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks) and Antony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails) to set up a meeting with Gollito Estredo.
The wind dropped slightly in the final allowing Gollito to change to his preferred 2016 4.8m while Bosson continued his inspired form by landing another massive air skopu, kabikuchi and culos on both sides, but with the wind dropping slightly the Frenchman looked a little underpowered at times. Meanwhile, Gollito, set out his stall early as he opened his account with an amazing no-handed burner 360 before really finding his groove as the final progressed. The Venezuelan landed skopus on both tacks as well as a stylish kabikuchi and a spock culo to take first blood in 2016 — He will now look to defend his single elimination crown when the double elimination resumes tomorrow, while Bosson is already guaranteed his best ever result and can be delighted with how he attacked today.
Taty Frans (Starboard / GA Sails / Mystic) secured third place by defeating Antony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails) in the losers’ final as the Bonairean produced a superb display with a perfect spock culo being the pick of the bunch. Ruenes landed another of his trademark no-handed burners, but it looked as though his earlier exertions had taken it out of him slightly by the time he was sailing his final heat of the day.
Balz Müller (Patrik / Severne) caused one of the upsets of the day as he defeated Steven Van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde) in Heat 20b. The Swiss mixed it up completely as he combined radical culos with shuvit spocks and t-bones, while even attempting a double forward and his risky tactics were rewarded with a narrow victory over the top seed to take 5th place in the single alongside Kiri Thode (Starboard / GA Sails), Philip Soltysiak and Yentel Caers (JP / NeilPryde), who earned a hard fought victory against Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne). The Belgian then led against Gollito for the majority of the next heat — only for the Venezuelan to snatch victory from his claws in the final minute.
Van Broeckhoven, who was crowned world champion in 2011, had looked very dangerous in his heat prior to meeting Müller, but didn’t quite have the same rhythm and the Belgian will now have to fight his way back through the double elimination in order to get his title aspirations back on track.
Elsewhere Sam Esteve (JP / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) impressed the judges with his aggressive approach with the young Frenchman flying through air skopus and air funnel burners to defeat Paul Simmerl (JP / NeilPryde), before claiming the scalp of Nicolas Akgazciyan (99NoveNove / Challenger Sails / AL360 / Maui Ultra Fins) in Heat 14b — Esteve then met Gollito in the next round which brought his single elimination to an end.
With the wind still howling the competition rolled straight into the double elimination as several sailors began there comebacks with the opening two rounds of the double being completed just before sunset.
Max Rowe (Simmer), who has only been back on the water for a few months after breaking his ankle in November regained the winning feeling as he defeated Antoine Albert (Goya Windsurfing) and Yuma Kobayashi (Starboard / Severne) to setup a tie against Youp Schmit in the first heat up tomorrow. However, the Brit may receive a bye into the next round due to Schmit suffering a suspected torn calf, which led to the Bonairean having to retire from the resail of Heat 17a.
Meanwhile, Nico Akgazciyan, who finished 4th overall last year, also successfully started his comeback through the double elimination as he ended the hopes of Meiky Wieczorek (RRD / RRD) and Nic Hibdige (Tabou / GA Sails). The Frenchman will now face Tonky Frans in the next round.
Jacopo Testa (RRD / RRD) stole the show in Heat 30b against Loick Spicher (RRD / RRD) as the Italian landed one of, if not the move of the day as he launched into a huge air kabikuchi which he planed out of. After advancing past Spicher, Testa then also clinically dispatched of Rick Jendrusch (JP / Severne) with another air kabikuchi together with a one-handed, or no-handed culo, and a perfect spock culo doing the damage.
The Italian trio of Giovanni Passani (Tabou / GA Sails), Rossel Bertoldo (99NoveNove / NeilPryde) and Mattia Fabrizi (Fanatic / North) all made successful starts to their double elimination comebacks as they to progressed through the opening two rounds.
The skippers’ meeting for tomorrow has been called for 6am with the wind expected to be strong in the morning, which should hopefully allow the double elimination to be completed. If the conditions are suitable then the action will begin bright and early at 6:30am (GMT+2). Live updates will be available via the PWA live ticker and photos will be available at the end of the day.
Standings after Single Elimination of the PWA Surf World Cup Podersdorf — Men’s Freestyle
1st Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / North / MFC)
2nd Adrien Bosson (Fanatic / North / Maui Ultra Fins)
3rd Taty Frans (Starboard / GA Sails / Mystic)
4th Antony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails)
5th Kiri Thode (Starboard / GA Sails)
5th Yentel Caers (JP / NeilPryde)
5th Philip Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks
5th Balz Müller (Patrik / Severne)