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Vietnam PWA Grand Slam 2011 event preview

Professional Windsurfers Association

A new year and an entirely new event stands poised to mark the start of 2011 PWA World Tour.

With the winter training period finally coming to an end, it’s time to start stoking the boilers in preparation for the 2011 PWA World Tour to rumble into action for the start of the new competition year.

Inaugurating what looks to be an action packed line up of events, the 2011 season opens its doors with the entirely new competition location of Mui Ne, in South Eastern Vietnam. Already a tried and tested competition location, the PWA’s arrival cements Mui Ne’s reputation as Vietnam’s premier water sports destination.

The PWA will be stationed in Mui Ne for a period of nine days, from February 25th to March 5th. First to hit the water will be the men’s freestyle fleet, who will compete until midway through day five, on March 1st. This midway point in the competition will also double as the registration day for the men’s and women’s slalom fleets, and potentially provide the opportunity for the racers to notch up the first races of their allocated four and a half day race period.

Dates To Remember:
25th February: Freestyle registration and start of freestyle competition.
1st March: Final day of freestyle / Slalom registration.
2nd March: First official day of slalom competition.
5th March: Final day of slalom competition and slalom prize giving.

Being an entirely new tour stop, we thought we’d enlist one of the PWA’s most notorious globe trotters, and Mui Ne regular, Chris Pressler (Starboard / Severne) to give us the insiders eye view on what to expect for the coming nine days of competition.

CP: 'The conditions can range from 7 knots and relatively flat water, up to 35 knots and choppy conditions, much like Pozo. The wind, which normally blows from a northeasterly direction (cross onshore) generally kicks in by morning, building to a steady force 4 by midday, then turning side shore and typically building to upwards of a force 5. In the late afternoon the wind tends to swing more offshore and gets very gusty on the inside. The ideal situation would be to run the heats from 12.00 to 16.00. If the wind blows for several days a heavy shore break can crash on the very narrow sandy beach.

In general it’s relatively difficult to slide through freestyle tricks, but the conditions are well suited to powerful air moves. In slalom we can expect exciting races with jibe marks right next to the shore and the finish line almost on the beach.

The atmosphere in Vietnam is great. Bars and restaurants are next to the beach, where you can find shade under the palm trees. The prices are low and you can discover a new culture there.

I’ve visited Vietnam eight times and each time I had nice conditions, using sails from 6.1m to 8.1m in slalom and freeriding and 4.2m up to 5.9m in freestyle.'

As you’d expect from a high profile new event, the entry list for 2011 Vietnam PWA Grand Slam reads like a who’s who of the PWA’s finest freestyle and slalom talents. With both fleets maxed out in the skills department, he’s a brief overview of the movers and shakers to watch out for when competition gets underway.

In the men’s slalom fleet, it goes without saying that last year’s podium finishers; Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde), Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic) and Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North Sails) will be eager to state their intentions from the outset, and fend off any potential attacks from what’s arguably the strongest racing lineup we’ve seen in recent years.

New to the mix, and a potential threat to the big players is Dutchman, Pieter Bijl (JP / NeilPryde). Bijl’s been out the game for last couple of seasons, but rumors circulating around JP’s Maui base suggest he’s been working tirelessly on his technique and is more determined than ever to build on his sixth finish overall in 2007.

There’s also the likes of Finian Maynard (RRD), who finished second overall in 2009, and was unlucky not to secure a podium finish last year, and Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde) who’ll be looking to capitalize on a steady run of fourth place overall finishes.

In the women’s fleet, there’s the unfortunate news that Valerie Arrighetti (Loft Sails / Tabou / Mystic), last year’s second place overall finisher will be unable to attend the event due to a shoulder injury she sustained during the winter period. Though sad news, it very much opens the door to the likes of Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North), Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra) and Sarah Hebert (Naish / Naish) to mount an attack on Karin Jaggi’s (Patrik / Severne) seemingly vice like grip on the podium top spot.

When the freestylers take to the water, it’s going to be the guys that are happy to throw thrown down in the chop and rolling swells that the prevailing side, to side onshore wind generates. Obviously Jose Estredo (Fanatic / North), who’s gunning for his fifth overall World Title, will be the man to beat, but it gets very difficult to call from there.

The Bonaire crew of Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic), Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra) and Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra) are well renowned for their powerful repertoires which will be well suited to the Vietnamese conditions, likewise Belgium’s freestyle sensei Steven Van Broeckhoven (F2 / Gaastra) is always a strong contender, and very much peaking at the right time to do some serious damage over the coming year.

Within the top twenty men’s freestylers, there’s been so much vertical movement up and down the results tables, that almost without exception, each and every rider has proven they can post a result in the top ten, if not challenge the top five riders. Combine this with the winter breaks notorious ability to produce new moves, and push the level to dizzying heights, and you have all the ingredients for a spectacular baptism of fire as the waters of the South China Sea are introduced to world-class freestyle.

The PWA is proud to announce that the entire 2011 PWA Vietnam World Cup will be streamed live via PWA TV on the website as the start of a regular set of live streaming broadcasts from the majority of tour stops. Weather depending, coverage of day one of competition is scheduled to begin on the morning of Friday 25th February (GMT +7), when the freestylers will take to the water.

www.pwaworldtour.com
www.pwavietnam.com




by Vivienne Masters

  

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9:35 AM Wed 23 Feb 2011 GMT






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