This year, the freestylers will have the pleasure of raising the curtain on the 2013 PWA World Tour, as the men’s freestyle fleet prepares to once again descend upon Austria’s beautiful Neusiedler See. Between the 26th to the 30th of April the contortionists of the windsurfing world will be showcasing their biggest and most explosive moves, as they kick off the 2013 season in spectacular fashion.
As well as being wonderfully unique - due to Neusiedler See being the only inland stop on the tour - the PWA Surf World Cup Podersdorf can also be one of the most unpredictable events of the year. Based on previous years, conditions can range from freezing cold nuclear winds, accompanied with torrential rain, to glorious sunshine and lighter thermal breezes, which you wouldn’t be blamed for associating with a Mediterranean climate. Either way this event never disappoints, both on and off the water.
All eyes will be on the reigning world champion Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / North). The King of freestyle produced the perfect season last year, as he won every event in sight, on his way to collecting an amazing fifth world title at the age of just twenty-four. The Venezuelan is looking for back-to-back victories in Austria and with confidence at an all-time high it looks as though he’s going to be a formidable force to beat.
Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra) is always in the thick of the action and perhaps represents Gollito’s biggest threat - given the fact that the twenty-three year old has finished the past two seasons as the vice-world champion. The man from Bonaire has long been tipped for the top and he’ll be busting his way through radical culos, konos and trademark air-bobs to try and dethrone Gollito.
Of course the remainder of the Bonaire crew consisting of Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra), Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) and Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard / Hot Sails Maui) cannot be overlooked. All of whom have performed brilliantly in the past and have their own unique island style of windsurfing, which so often dazzles the judges and the crowds.
The 2011 world champion Steven van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde / Different) will be on the warpath to regain his title having relinquished it last year. The King of pop will be ready to unleash his entire arsenal of gravity defying stunts in order to claw his way back to the top. The Belgian supremo also has a great record in Austria having claimed victory there during his championship winning year.
Anthony Ruenes (Tabou / Gaastra) is one of the most radical and crazy sailors on the tour, the Frenchman has the ability to beat anyone on his day and he’ll be aiming to break into the top five. Fellow countryman Nicolas Akgazciyan (Starboard / Point-7 / Maui Ultra Fins) will also be a major threat having finished fifth here last year. Only a severe ankle injury prevented Akgazciyan from securing a place in the top ten in 2012 as he was forced to miss the final event of the season.
The three young wizards consisting of Youp Schmit (JP / NeilPryde), Dieter van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne) and Davy Scheffers (Tabou / Gaastra) will all be vying for positions in the top at a minimum. Schmit enjoyed a phenomenal first full season on tour as he immediately broke into the world’s top ten. The eighteen year old impressed over the course of the season and has already taken the scalps of some of the biggest names in windsurfing.
Belgian maestro Dieter van der Eyken Starboard / Severne) continues to go from strength-to-strength and has already proved on more than one occasion that he possesses the weapons to break into the elite top five.
Radical Dutchman Davy Scheffers (Tabou / Gaastra) couldn’t quite replicate the stunning form he showed in 2011, which saw him claim fifth, but as the current European Freestyle Champion the twenty-one year old knows how to win and is feared by many of his fellow pros. Scheffers holds a brilliant track record in Podersdorf and he’ll be looking to continue that trend over the coming week.
As Canada’s sole representative, Phil Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks) would seem like a sure fire bet for being inside the top ten - having cemented his place in the overall top ten for the past four years. As one of the most consistent and stylish sailors on the tour, Soltysiak is definitely a sailor to keep an eye on over the next five days.
The level on the freestyle world tour is sky high right now and as a result there’s a whole host of sailors who could very easily break into the top ten. With no easy heats the pressure will be on from the word go, which purely adds to the excitement and tension surrounding the first event of 2013. With PWA Freestyle action during the day, European tow-in during the evenings and Podersdorf’s infamous parties lasting long into the night, this event promises to be one that you can’t afford to miss.