Pozo sprung to life on day five of the PWA Gran Canaria Wind and Waves Festival with more drama packed into today than the opening four days of the event. Today saw injuries, upsets, close calls and kit breakages as the sailors were finally given the opportunity to show exactly what they are capable of on the water.
Before the official contest even began blood had been spilt as one of the top title contenders - Ricardo Campello (Patrik / Point-7 / MFC) - suffered a sliced foot after an air chachoo gone wrong, which resulted in eleven stitches in the top of his foot. However, after a short trip to hospital, Campello reacted in a determined manor, as a true champion does: 'I'm alright. Of course I'm going to sail, but only if I have too today, otherwise I'll stay off the water.' Campello also added, 'Mum, don't worry, I'm okay.'
After an eventful morning, the competitor’s patience this week was finally rewarded as the main event kicked off at 3:30pm with the women’s single elimination.
The opening race saw Olya Raskina (JP / NeilPryde) versus Justyna Sniady (Simmer) on the a-side, whilst Sarah Bibby (Simmer) took on Steffi Wahl (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg). Sniady progressed after combining a fluid wave with a tabletop and a big forward to knock out the Russian. Meanwhile, Wahl was able to defeat Bibby with a solid forward and her usual fluid style on the wave.
Iballa Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) featured in race two and the vice-world champion successfully defeated Silvia Alba Orozco (Quatro / Goya Windsurfing / MFC) with an accomplished display. On her way to victory Iballa combined a stunning tabletop forward with aggressive wave riding to progress. On the opposite side Carmen Afonso Martin advanced past Waka Nishida (Goya Windsurfing).
Into race three and it was Amanda Beenen (Tabou / GA Sails) who stood out as she delivered several aggressive turns and a textbook forward to book her place in the next round. France’s Alice Arutkin (Fanatic / North) was also able to navigate her way past Heleen Muijsers (F2 / Challenger), who suffered a broken mast in the latter stages of the heat.
Two reigning world champions lined up in the final race of the first round as wave world champion Daida Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) took on freestyle world champion Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Mystic / Chris Benz / Maui Ultra Fins). However, there was still only one victor in the waves as Daida prevailed thanks to a sick backside air, followed up by two snappy frontside hits, whilst landing a big forward as well. Offringa, was however unlucky as she would have progressed from several of the other opening heats, showing that she will be a major threat in events to come. Meanwhile, Caterina Stenta (RRD / RRD) defeated Maria-Serena Zoia (GA Sails).
Race 1a between Adam Lewis (Fanatic / North) and Aleix Sanllehy (Goya Windsurfing / MFC) went down to the wire as the men’s draw started off in explosive fashion. Sanllehy nailed two jumps on his first run - a super tweaked pushloop and a perfect OH backloop - to instantly transfer the pressure onto Lewis. After a somewhat slow start to the heat, the Brit soon fought his way into first place with the first double forward of the contest and a stylish backloop. However, in the dying seconds Sanllehy was able to produce the best wave of the heat, which proved critical as he progressed.
As previously mentioned Ricardo Campello required eleven stitches in his foot earlier today, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell that given his performance on the water in race 1b, as he ignored the pain to produce a fantastic display. The Brazilian launched himself straight into a double forward before also landing a massive one-footed backloop and a crazy one-footed forward, and whilst his opponent - Camille Juban (Quatro / MauiSails / MFC) also sailed well, it wasn’t enough to stop the injured Brazilian from marching on.
Ricardo Campello speaks about sailing with eleven stitches in his foot: 'Jumping isn’t too bad, but riding really hurts because there’s more pressure on my foot. I’ve made my back strap bigger because I’m wearing a boot on my injured foot, but then it’s too big for riding on the otherwise, which is making things hard. It’s not too bad when you are competing because you can’t really think about, but it’s f******* painful!'
Race 2a saw Omar Sanchez (Patrik / Loft Sails / Dunkerbeck Eyewear) advance past Boujmaa Guilloul (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / MFC). The Moroccan put a hole in his sail right at the beginning of the race, which gradually worsened as the heat progressed, but take nothing away from Sanchez who produced an excellent display.
Philip Köster (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra) - who is many peoples favourite for the event title here in Pozo - almost fell at the first hurdle as Graham Ezzy (Quatro / Ezzy / MFC) pushed to within 0.25 points of his event life. As usual Köster’s jumping was superb as he instantly landed a trademark double forward and a high one-footed backloop. However, the two-time world champion couldn’t quite pull it out of the bag with his wave scores and Ezzy - who secured his place in the main draw yesterday after successfully advancing through the trials - wasn’t about to lay down and let Köster advance without a fight. The American saved the best till last as he produced the best wave of the heat, by quite some margin, as he combined a tweaked backside air into a fluid taka, before also stomping a forward off the lip. The original result looked much more one-sided than it actually was as Ezzy’s superb no-handed backloop was scored as a one-handed backloop. However, it still wasn’t quite enough for him as Köster advanced by the narrowest of margins.
Duncan Coombs: 'In a heat that we thought would be one-sided, without being disrespectful to Graham, Koster struggled to produce a high wave score, which left the tie open. Ezzy on the other hand managed to score the highest wave of the day, whilst also landing a rare no-handed backloop. Unfortunately for Graham he still lost out by 0.25 points, but it does show others that he is beatable.'
Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) safely advanced into the second round after seeing off José Romero Santana (Mistral / Challenger). Meanwhile, Alessio Stillrich (Fanatic / North), received a bye into the next round after Jules Denel (JP / NeilPryde) had to retire within the first couple of minutes of race 3b. The Frenchman suffered an ankle injury whilst training earlier in the week and was unfortunately unable to recover in time.
The penultimate race of the day saw Antoine Martin (JP / NeilPryde) defeat Martin ten Hoeve (Goya Windsurfing / Point-7) in a rightly contested race. Martin, though showed great style on the wave and looked comfortable in the air as well to progress.
The final race witnessed one of the shocks of the day as Jaeger Stone (SSD / Severne) took down the vice-world champion - Alex Mussolini (Tabou / GA Sails). Stone left things late as with five minutes to go he only had one jump on the scoreboard, however, things soon changed as the Australian landed a huge stalled forward to move into the lead. With only a couple of minutes remaining Mussolini tried to respond, but he couldn’t quite find the wave score to match Stone’s in the battle of the wave riders. In the end Mussolini’s tweaked pushloop and one-handed backloop wasn’t quite enough as Stone continues to progress through his first PWA competition in three years.
An enthralling day was drawn to a close at 7:30pm and now thoughts turn towards tomorrow, which promises to provide more great action with even stronger wind being forecasted. The skippers’ meeting will be held at 9:30am tomorrow morning with the action commencing from 10am onwards. PWA World Tour