by Chris Yates
The PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam proved to be a roaring success once more, as Sotavento provided a fitting end to an epic Canaries tour. Throughout the ten days, thousands of spectators were treated to high-octane slalom racing and explosive, mind-blowing, freestyle, which saw Finian Maynard (RRD / Avanti) storm to his first victory of the season in the men’s slalom, whilst Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / North) and Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins / Chris Benz) blew the rest of the fleet out of the water to be crowned the King and Queen of freestyle.
Sarah Quita Offringa - PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura World Cup 2012
The start of the men’s slalom saw a slow start to proceedings as the wind deserted the competitors for the opening two days, however things began to heat up very quickly from day three onwards as the fastest sailors in the world were unleashed onto the water.
The racing, which ensued, was nail bitingly good as the men battled it out in winds ranging from fifteen to forty plus knots. By the end of the four races it was Finian Maynard who was the happiest man on the planet. Not only did he claim his first race victories of 2012 but he also won the entire event after a scintillating display on day four, which saw Maynard win two out of the three races and finish third in the other as he dominated the fleet to finish ahead of Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic / Different), who enjoyed his first podium finish of the season, and Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) in third place.
The event also saw a major development in the title race too. Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz) may have failed to finish in the top three, but fourth place still proved to be enough to see a change at the top of the overall rankings. The Terminator has managed to overhaul his arch-rival, Antoine Albeau, into first place as he looks to defend his world title.
The opening winners’ final of the event was spectacular as the wind picked up throughout the race to produce some full power, high-octane slalom. Peter Volwater (Fanatic / Avanti) crossed the start line in first place but that would all change by exit of the first mark. An absolutely perfect gybe from Ben Van Der Steen saw him leap into the lead as he bypassed Volwater, Bjorn Dunkerbeck and Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde). By the third mark the flying Dutchman, Van Der Steen, had extended his lead over the rest of the chasing pack, whilst Albeau started a charge of his own to leave the third gybe in second place ahead of Volwater and Buzianis (JP / MauiSails). Van Der Steen managed to hold his nerve around the final mark and he cruised to the opening victory of the 2012 PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam. Albeau claimed second followed by Volwater and Buzianis in third and fourth respectively. Dunkerbeck in the meantime had to settle for fifth.
Finian Maynard made the perfect start to the winners’ final as he crossed the start line in pole position, but Antoine Albeau was soon breathing down his neck and by the first mark Albeau had manoeuvred himself into the lead, whilst Ben Van Der Steen fell at the first mark to ruin his chances of claiming back-to-back victories. The big Frenchman only extended his lead over the remainder of the course as he flew around the buoys at mach ten. His fellow countryman Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) was his closest challenger in second place followed by Maynard, who claimed his best finish of the season so far, and Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne / Mystic). Bjorn Dunkerbeck endured a torrid time as his finished eighth, due to an altercation at the second mark.
Fresh from his best finish of the season in race two, Finian Maynard was in buoyant mood and he started his second winners’ final with aplomb as he burst into the lead. This time around Maynard managed to hold his lead into the first mark ahead of Dunkerbeck, Van Der Steen and Josh Angulo (Angulo / Point-7) and he went onto win his first race of the season after leading from start to finish with a quite brilliant performance. Maynard looked blisteringly quick and super smooth in the gybes as he left his opponents in his wake. Behind him though there was still plenty of action as Severne teammates, Dunkerbeck and Cyril Moussilmani battled for second place. On this occasion Moussilmani managed to get the better of the terminator as he made a better exit to his final gybe, to claim second. Meanwhile, Van Der Steen, steam rolled down the final leg to overtake Dunkerbeck as the Dutchman finished in third place after his victory yesterday.
Having rediscovered winning ways, Finian Maynard set about achieving back-to-back victories and that’s exactly what he managed to do as his brilliant day became even better. Maynard had been giving a starting master-class and his perfect timing continued in the last winners’ final of the event as he crossed the line in first place yet again, and the man from the British Virgin Islands was able to hold his lead from start to finish just as he did in the previous race.
Maynard’s fantastic starts combined with his blistering straight-line speed and super fluid gybes meant that his opponents had no chance. Maynard was in a league of his own on day four and he was visibly delighted as he exited the water after a magnificent display. Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) tried to challenge Maynard on the final straight but Maynard stepped back on the gas to leave Quentel battling for second place with Josh Angulo. As the two sailors crossed the finish line they were almost inseparable, but the news was soon released that Angulo had just pipped Quentel to second place. The top four was completed by the flying Dutchman Ben Van Der Steen.
Finian Maynard speaking after his first event victory of the year: 'It feels wonderful, especially after having such a tough year up to now, which has been well documented. I’m just ecstatic.'
In the single elimination Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo produced a display of the highest level to defeat Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra) in the winners’ final. Gollito even managed to land a new move in the final, an air flaka shaka that he has named the ‘Pasko’. Furthermore the four times world champion exploded into a huge burner into funnel and an almost air skopu as the Venezuelan went bigger than ever. Frans sailed an incredible heat too with skopu 900s of his own and a trademark bongka but it wasn’t enough to defeat Gollito.
One of the biggest stories, if not the biggest story of the single elimination involved Dieter Van Der Eyken (Starboard / Severne) and Steven Van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde / Different). The battle of the Belgians was always going to be an intense affair as emotions ran high and tempers flared, particularly at the end of the heat. The radical Van Der Eyken sailed one of the heats of his life, both mentally and physically, as he caused a massive upset by defeating the reigning world champion. Van Der Eyken was on fire as he landed amazing culos and a super tweaked shuvit spock to earn the best finish of his life as he moved into the top four for the first time. However Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra) soon set the record straight by defeating the young Belgium Maestro in the losers’ final to claim third place.
The other upset of the single elimination saw seventeen year old Youp Schmit (JP / NeilPryde) defeat Davy Scheffers (Tabou / Gaastra) in the quarterfinals to finish in the top five, as the young Bonaire boy continues to improve at a scarily fast pace. Meanwhile, Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers (JP / NeilPryde) and Anthony Ruenes (Tabou / Gaastra) battled in out in heat forty-one, with Chambers sailing a brilliant heat as he landed a full repertoire of tricks ranging from a superb spock-culo to radical konos. Unfortunately for the Brit his astronomical shaka was out of time and Ruenes progressed by the narrowest of margins to leave Chambers settling for an excellent thirteenth place.
Into the double elimination and the reigning world champion, Steven Van Broeckhoven, returned with a vengeance as he let loose against everyone in his path. The strong winds associated with Fuerteventura finally returned on the final day of the competition and Van Broeckhoven took advantage of the full power conditions to win six successive heats.
The King of pop defeated; Yegor Popretinskiy (JP / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins), Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) and Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard / Hot Sails Maui) before taking the opportunity to exact revenge against Dieter Van Der Eyken. Van Broeckhoven then set his sights on the podium places and victory as he took down Kiri Thode and Tonky Frans to set up a final with Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo.
Kirri Thode - PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura World Cup 2012
After six enthralling but energy sapping heats Steven Van Broeckhoven couldn’t quite do enough to force a super final, as Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo successfully defended his single elimination victory despite being pushed all the way by the Belgian. The two men produced an awe-inspiring display to wow the crowd and the judges on the beach as Van Broeckhoven and Gollito pushed the boundaries of the sport yet again. The reigning world champion launched into an incredible gravity defying air shuvit spock and a radical pushloop off almost no ramp but the four times world champion responded with bigger and even more impressive moves.
Push loop from Gollito - PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura World Cup 2012
The Venezuelan threw his now trademark ‘Pasko’ before sailing back to the beach to line up in front of the small waves which were now forming. The anticipation and excitement built as Estredo headed out at full speed towards the ramp before rotating through an astonishing pushloop. Both sailors were sailing so well that with a couple of minutes to spare they had both filled their score sheets, however as the scores were tallied up it was Gollito, who would be celebrating after an emphatic victory to win his second event in a row in his quest for a fifth world championship title.
Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo speaking after his victory: 'I feel incredibly happy to win the double elimination against Steven (Van Broeckhoven). It was difficult at the beginning of week with the light winds but finally today we got the strong winds. I’m delighted that I have won the opening two events but it’s not over yet, we’ll see what happens in Germany.'
Gollito in the zone - PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura World Cup 2012
The women’s freestyle contest saw two single and double eliminations completed, as Sarah-Quita Offringa asserted her dominance over the women’s fleet to win four successive winners’ finals against her closest contender Laure Treboux (Fanatic / North), who finished second. Offringa looked her usual class act as she performed moves with such style that she’d have given a lot of the men a run for their money. On her way to another resounding victory the lady from Aruba rotated through amazing konos, burners and even skopus to leave everyone amazed by her standard of sailing, which continues to get better and better. Treboux performed brilliantly as well but she could never quite match her opponent despite landing fully planing grubby diablos and perfect switch flakas. Offringa was quite simply in a world of her own for the entire competition.
Treboux in action - PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura World Cup 2012
Sarah-Quita Offringa speaking after her victory: 'I’m delighted to win the event and I also want to say thank you to Rene Egli for organising the event, I’m really happy to be here and I love coming to Fuerteventura, both for the sailing and the people. I’d also like to thank Duncan Coombs and the PWA judges for their hard work this week, congratulation to Laure (Treboux) and Arrianne Aukes for her first podium finish.'
The remaining spot on the podium saw an intriguing battle for third between Yoli Freites De Brendt (Fanatic / North) and Arrianne Aukes (RRD / Simmer / Maui Ultra Fins / AL360). Having won the battle for third in the opening single and double elimination, De Brendt must’ve thought she has the final podium position wrapped up. However Aukes wasn’t just going to surrender her chance for her first ever top three finish and she battled back to win the second round of battles after delivering superfast funnels and amazing flakas to defeat De Brendt twice in a row.
With the scores at two a piece De Brendt and Aukes would have to sail one more heat at the end of a very long day of competition. Aukes took full advantage of the opportunity to put her in the limelight of the windsurfing media, as the Dutch woman used every ounce of momentum to defeat De Brendt one more time. Aukes stole third place by landing a perfect flaka and a fantastic switch kono, and in doing so she secured her best finish ever.
Overall Results of The PWA Slalom Fuerteventura - Men’s:
1st Finian Maynard (RRD / Avanti)
2nd Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic / Different)
3rd Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
4th Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz)
5th Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne / Mystic)
6th Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde)
7th Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails)
8th Josh Angulo (Angulo / Point-7)
9th Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North)
10th Benoit Moussilmani (Tabou / Simmer)
Overall Results of The PWA Freestyle Fuerteventura - Men’s:
1st Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo
2nd Steven Van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde / Different)
3rd Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra)
4th Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra)
5th Dieter Van Der Eyken (Starboard / Severne)
6th Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard / Hot Sails Maui)
7th Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins)
7th Anthony Ruenes (Tabou / Gaastra)
9th Nicolas Akgazciyan (Starboard / Point-7 / Maui Ultra Fins)
9th Yegor Popretinskiy (JP / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins)
9th Youp Schmit (JP / NeilPryde)
9th Philip Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks)
Overall Results of The PWA Freestyle Fuerteventura - Women’s:
1st Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins / Chris Benz)
2nd Laure Treboux (Fanatic / North)
3rd Arrianne Aukes (RRD / Simmer / AL360 / Maui Ultra Fins)
4th Yoli Freites De Brendt (Fanatic / North)
5th Eva Chiochetti
5th Svetlana Martynova
Flaka Shaka from Gollito - PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura World Cup 2012
A tough day for Yoli - PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura World Cup 2012
Champagne moment - PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura World Cup 2012
The next stop on the PWA tour will see the slalom fleets to heading to Alacati, Turkey, between August 27th and 1st September. The men will be preparing for their fifth battle of the season, whilst the women will be competing in their third slalom contest of the year.
PWA World Cup website