Vietnam PWA Grand Slam fourth day marked the final day of competition for the freestyle fleet.
A full double elimination and a single elimination had already been completed over the previous three days and the day's double elimination would determine the final event standings and the event winner.
With conditions slightly lighter than the hammering winds witnessed on day three, most sailors opted to take 5.0m - 5.3m-meter sails to power them through their routines. Head judge, Duncan Coombs also opted to lower the required amount of moves from four, to three on each tack.
The stand out sailor from the outset was Israel’s Yarden Meir (Fanatic / Simmer), who put in a stunning performance to take down France’s Nicolas Akgazciyan (Starboard / Gun). With expectations running high, it was unfortunate to see the pressure get to the Israeli when he came up against Davy Scheffers (Tabou / Gaastra), and failed to deliver anything like his previous heat’s performance.
Scheffers advanced to take on Dieter Van Der Eyken (Severne / Starboard) in a grudge match, which has been sailed many time before in the past, and historically favored Van Der Eyken. This time round, however, would see Scheffers turn the tables, giving him a chance to try his luck against Bonaire’s Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic) in the following round.
Despite Scheffers showing great potential, when the time came to face off with Frans, it looked more like a battle of the master and his understudy than a battle of equals. On the score sheets both sailors had thrown down similar moves, the difference being Frans’ were almost without exception, perfectly executed, in contrast to Scheffers’ heavily marked down imitations.
Frans’ victory meant he had to endure another bout of sibling rivalry with brother Tonky (Tabou / Gaastra). This one was to be an absolute treat for those lucky enough to watch it, yet posed an almost impossible task for the judges to separate the pair. Following much deliberation, Taty was ultimately awarded the victory, in what was dubbed the closest heat of the event.
Advancing to face Jose Estredo (Fanatic / North), Frans would have one last shot at avenging his previous day’s losses against the Venezuelan before the competition had run its course. On the water it was difficult to separate either rider on the quality of moves, but on the score sheets, a missed move from Frans on port tack had opened the door for Estredo to clinch victory.
So the stage was then set of the fourth and final Estredo versus Thode (Starboard / Gaastra) standoff. Estredo was statistically going to be the stronger man, but the reality of the situation placed a dialed in Thode as very much the odds on favorite.
As the heat ran it course, it was a rare spectacle to witness Estredo being categorically outclassed by Thode. That’s not to say Estredo performed badly, in fact far from it, but Thode was picture perfect. Everything from his air bobs through to his improvised one-handed culo-pirouette, the execution was sublime. When the judges announced their verdict, a humbled Estredo graciously accepted second place overall for the event, handing Thode the unanimous event victory, and early lead in the 2011 PWA Freestyle Rankings. The 2011 Vietnam PWA Grand Slam Freestyle Results
First Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra)
Second Jose Estredo (Fanatic / North)
Third Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic)
Fourth Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra)
Fifth Dieter Van Eyken (Starboard / Severne)
Tomorrow we hand over the men’s and women’s slalom fleets, for their first day of competition. Racing is scheduled to commence from two o' clock pm, following the one o' clock pm skippers meeting (all times are GMT +seven). PWA World Tour Vietnam PWA Grand Slam