Ricardo and Gollito at the opening ceremony - Sylt 2008
The stars of the PWA arrive on Sylt’s Westerland beach for the start of the 25th annual Sylt Super Grand Slam.
The long wait is almost over, as the athletes of the PWA World Tour sign up for the forthcoming nine days of Super Grand Slam action. With a whole day set aside for registration, rigging and general preparation, it’s been a fairly relaxed opening day for the sailors and spectators alike.
However, the casual ambiance is to be short lived, as the event swings into full-on competition mode tomorrow. A promising forecast combined with the huge weekend crowds, means proceedings are to set to start with a bang.
Shocks and Surprises
The first shock to proceedings is the news that German freestyler, Normen Günzlein (JP, NeilPryde) has suffered an unfortunate injury while training in the Baltic Sea. Günzlein, who came seventh in the last freestyle event in Fuerteventura, is reported to have broken his jaw after a collision with another sailor. The injury requires Günzlein to have an operation before he’ll be fit to windsurf again; we wish him the best of luck with his recovery.
On a more positive note, top slalom racer Micah Buzianis (JP, NeilPryde, MFC) is making a solid recovery after breaking his leg racing in Fuerteventura. Buzianis will be back on his board and training for the 2009 season in the near future. In the meantime, he’s made the surprise decision to come to Sylt and share his wealth of windsurf knowledge with the crowds, as he takes up the roll of assistant event commentator.
The Word on the Street
Over the course of the afternoon we chatted to some of the riders and crew about the days that lie ahead, here’s what they had to say.
Head wave/freestyle judge, Duncan Coombs.
PWA: From your experience, what can we expect the weather to deliver over the coming days?
DC: 'Sylt’s just so unpredictable, but I’d say we’ll definitely get to do all three disciplines. With waves it’s sometimes a hard call, but there’s plenty of low pressures stacked up ready to deliver some classic Sylt conditions….Hopefully this year we’ll be able to run a full double, we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s all about contrast here, expect anything from 7-70 knots!'
Slalom/Wave competitor Matt Pearch (Mistral, North).
PWA: Is it hard to compete at an event where the conditions are so variable?
MP:'Yeah, it’s really tough. You’re constantly on hold, then the wind might pick up and you have to start racing, and all of a sudden it might die back down to nothing. It’s especially hard as I’m competing in waves as well, so I have to try and stay focused on both disciplines. You never get a day off, as regardless of the forecast there’s always a possibility of competing'
PWA Veteran and part owner of MauiSails, Phil McGain.
PWA: After a two-year absence from competition, is your return to compete at Sylt in part to help promote MauiSails, or are you motivated by racing alone?
PM: I’m here for both. I want to promote MauiSails, and have a chance to test the products out on the race course so I can get a feel for where we’re at. But also, once you’ve raced, that bug never goes away, I’m definitely here to do the best I can, and I’d like to try and make the top ten'
Following the events much hyped opening ceremony this evening, the sailors will be down on the beach and ready for competition at tomorrow’s skippers meeting, scheduled for 10.30am.
Be sure to tune back into pwaworldtour.com
A dedicated event website for our German fans at www.worldcupsylt.de