The forecast and the paradise island of Bonaire certainly delivered on the second day of the PWA Bonaire World Cup as the single elimination for both the men’s and women’s divisions was completed in idyllic freestyle conditions. The level on the water today was off the scale as every sailor pushed themselves to the limit in order to try and defeat their rivals.
After a scintillating day of sailing it was eventually the reigning PWA Freestyle World Champions Kiri Thode (Starboard / GA Sails) and Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Mystic / Chris Benz / Maui Ultra Fins), who came out on top, as Thode showed why he’s not only the King of Bonaire, but also the current King of the world, whilst SQ did exactly the same with a flawless performance.
After a hard fought battle Kiri Thode and Steven Van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde) eventually earned their places in the first winners’ final of the year. It turned out to be a heat that was almost too close to call, but as always there has to be one winner. Thode and Van Broeckhoven had been on form the whole day, and that continued into the final, although Thode later admitted he wasn’t 100% happy with his performance. The Bonairean opened the spectacle of the day with a great air bob into culo, only to see the Belgian maestro respond instantly with a superb double culo. With the tone now firmly set, things only got better from here as the duo went toe-to-toe for the first blood of the season.
As the end of the heat approached both Thode and Van Broeckhoven had landed incredible manoeuvres and combos such as perfect Kabikuchis and text-book spock-culos, but the best was definitely saved until last. With moments to go Van Broeckhoven went all out for the win as he landed - what some sailors considered the move of the day - an incredible air funnel into burner, landed perfectly dry. However, in true world champion fashion Thode dug deep, whilst staying cool under pressure to stomp an outrageous double culo seconds before the final buzzer. After much deliberation, it was eventually revealed that Thode had just edged the battle as he claimed the first victory of the season by way of a 3-2 decision.
Today local boy Youp Schmit (JP / Avanti) progressed into untouched territory as he not only claimed the biggest scalp of his life, but he also fought his way into the top four for the first time ever. In heat 21b Schmit faced the formidable figure of five-time PWA Freestyle World Champion Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / North / MFC), in what would be one of the heats of the day. On his home waters, and cheered on by the locals, Schmit found another level as he delivered a simply outstanding display, but still the two sailors were almost inseparable. Schmit landed a radical air bob to begin with before also stomping a double cull and a superb kabikuchi. However, the best was still to come as Schmit unleashed an unbelievable shuvit spock into culo on the inside - the first ever in a PWA competition.
Having sailed out of his skin, a nervous Schmit awaited the result on the beach and he was visibly overjoyed when it was confirmed that he had defeated Gollito by way of a 2:1 decision in his favour. Gollito was extremely upset with the decision having landed spock culos on both tacks, a double culo - although not as clean as Schmit’s - and a huge culo. However, the Venezuelan, who finished the single elimination in joint fifth alongside Dieter van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne), Anthony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails) and Amado Vrieswijk (Starboard / Severne) - who was suffering from a bout of food poisoning, will now have to wait until the double elimination to exact revenge.
The top ten at this stage is completed by Phil Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks), Davy Scheffers (Tabou / GA Sails), Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard / Hot Sails Maui), Julien Mas (Patrik / Avanti), Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins), Adrien Bosson (Fanatic / North / Maui Ultra Fins), Adrian Beholz (Fanatic / Sailloft Hamburg / Maui Ultra Fins) and Nicolas Akgazciyan (99 International / Point-7 / AL360 / Maui Ultra Fins).
In heat twelve Bjorn Saragoza just missed out on a place in the top five after pushing Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo all the way. Gollito looked as though he was in command of the heat at the start, but the Bonairean soon found his form, unfortunately for him Saragoza found himself on the wrong end of a 2:1 split decision. There was also an extremely close call in heat fourteen as Julien Mas just edged his battle against Max Rowe (Fanatic / North), whilst fellow Brit Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers (JP / NeilPryde) pushed Saragoza all the way in heat twelve.
The first women’s first winners final of 2014 saw last year’s top two - Sarah-Quita Offringa and Arrianne Aukes (RRD / Simmer / Maui Ultra Fins) - lining up against each other once more. Offringa had been in imperious earlier in the day and the lady from Aruba proved exactly why she has six PWA Freestyle World Championships to her name by the end of the heat. Offringa kicked off the final with a text-book air flaka, before quickly adding a shaka flaka and a sick regular kono to instantly pile the pressure on Aukes. The Dutch freestyle specialist endured a tricky start to the final, but soon worked her way back into contention as she landed a flawless puneta followed by a perfectly executed double flaka.
With her confidence now growing Aukes laid down a trademark one-handed funnel to keep the contest well and truly alive. However, at this point Offringa took things to a whole nother level, firstly by tweaking a shuvit spock 540 before also landing a simply perfect double spock and an explosive culo. With nothing to lose, but everything to gain Aukes attempted to respond with a regular kono of her own, but it wasn’t to be as SQ claimed her first victory of the season, whilst protecting her unbeaten record, for the time being at least.
Elsewhere in the single elimination Yoli de Brendt (Fanatic / North) called upon all of her competition experience to keep Oda Johanne (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra fins) at bay, as the Venezuelan claimed the final place on the podium with a fine display.
Prior to the finals Maikke Huvermann (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) was the standout sailor as she produced a fantastic performance to dispatch of Fleur van der Burgh, before pushing Arrianne Aukes all the way. The sixteen year old was crowned the PWA Youth Freestyle World Champion in 2013, but she has clearly taken her sailing to another level this year, not only with greater consistency but also new moves. In her opening heat Huvermann wowed the crowds and made everyone standup and take notice as she landed stylish spocks, flakas, e-sliders, punetas and funnels, to prove she is one to watch.
The sailors took freestyle to a new level today, producing moment after moment of magic and the forecast looks as though we should be treated to three more days of mind-blowing trickery. After eight hours of jar dropping sailing, the competitors retreated to the beautiful Sorobon Beach Resort to relax and refuel for tomorrow’s double elimination. The skippers’ meeting for tomorrow has been called for 9am with the first possible start at 9:30am. Results Men’s Single Elimination – Freestyle
1st Kiri Thode (Starboard / GA Sails)
2nd Steven Van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde)
3rd Tonky Frans (Tabou / GA Sails)
4th Youp Schmit (JP / Avanti)
5th Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / North / MFC)
5th Dieter van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne)
5th Anthony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails)
5th Amado Vrieswijk (Starboard / Severne) Results Women’s Single Elimination – Freestyle
1st Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Mystic / Chris Benz / Maui Ultra Fins)
2nd Arrianne Aukes (RRD / Simmer / Maui Ultra Fins)
3rd Yoli de Brendt (Fanatic / North)
4th Oda Johanne (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins)
5th Maeli Cherel (Severne)
5th Maikke Huvermann (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins)
5th Olya Raskina (JP / NeilPryde)
5th Maxime van Gent (Fanatic / North / Maui Ultra Fins) PWA World Tour