The 2007 Costa Teguise Grand Slam - Day 1
Jose Estredo (Fanatic / North) digs deep for victory in the opening round of the Freestyle season, despite a scare from hometown buddy Ricardo Campello (JP / NeilPryde). Their Caribbean neighbour Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra) stood firm in third. Daida Moreno (North) fends off the new-wave of ladies freestyle talent despite the standard rocketing in the off-season. Aruban Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard /NeilPryde) sealed second place after halting Laure Treboux’s (Naish / Naish) remarkable fight back in its tracks.
Perfect freestyle conditions meant there was no delay in getting the first single elimination of the year underway.
They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks; however Remko De Weerd (Fanatic / Gaastra) came back into form with the shock-knockout of local-boy Antxon Otaegui (JP /NeilPryde) who finished 3rd overall in 2006.
De Weerd, aged 30, couldn’t believe it. ‘Actually I sailed much better in my first heat against Norman Gunzlein (JP / NeilPryde) where I was really polished and stayed dry. I was amazed that I managed to beat Antxon as I fell a lot in that heat. I’m not sure what happened to him out there?’
Otaegui remained pretty philosophical about it. ‘This is the first time I’ve seen everyone in competition since last year so I was in awe at the standard. It was also pretty unusual conditions for here today. But, the level is so high and it just goes to show you can’t be complacent or think any early heats are easy’
The next surprise was the exit of the world number-2 Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails) at the hands of Nicholas Akgazciyan (Starboard). The Frenchman subsequently sailed solidly from the first round all the way to the semi-finals.
There were some similar upsets in the women’s fleet. Nayra Alonso (Fanatic / Severne) elbowed last years rookie star Laure Treboux out in the first round. ‘I can’t believe it all came together so well’ said the over-the-moon Spaniard. ‘I landed everything I’ve learned in the winter which was really lucky considering the condition were often a bit tricky and gusty’.
Sarah-Quita Offringa spoilt Alonso's party in the semi-finals to set her up for the final clash which Daida Moreno dominated.
Moreno was predictably ice-cool after this vital win. ‘I came into this event fully expecting to have a hard time from the rest of the girls, especially the freestyle specialists, as the standard is just unreal. I think that relaxed me and took the pressure of which just helped me do what I had to do to win’
The men’s single final really was a top-drawer affair. Campello came out with all guns blazing to take down his Isla Margarita neighbour ‘Gollito’.
Perhaps the deciding move was his amazing Pushloop-into-Vulcan. ‘Yeah I'd though about that trick some time ago and never made one in competition. Then today that pushy actually went a bit wrong and I decided to twist it around and I made it! I was stoked to beat Gollito as he’s my friend and I’ve seen him training hard at El Yaque while I was concentrating more on the wave tour. Also he’s the guy to beat right now and definitely the favorite, so that made it even more satisfying really.
The Slalom racers were released for the day at this point, as the forecasts are good for the rest of the week and the conditions steadily improving for freestyle.
The gutsiest performances of the double elimination came from Norman Gunzlein (JP /NeilPryde) and Laure Treboux who both clawed their way back up the ladders after disappointing single elimination efforts.
An exhausted Gunzlein was eventually shown no mercy by Kiri Thode, who, fresh and relaxed, ended his remarkable run. The young German was still pretty satisfied with his days graft. ‘I was pretty upset this morning as I lost my first round heat. But, I was lucky and found my form again for the double elimination. I went through 7 heats to reach fourth place so I really can’t complain. I was so tired against Kiri and also my back strap was twisted which didn’t help very much!’
Sure enough it was a classic all-Venezuelan final. Gollito was sharp and masterful while Campello fell a lot in between flashes of brilliance. Gollito had made it 1-1 and that meant under the double elimination system there had to be a re-sail.
This time it was closer, and both riders threw high jumps off the breaking waves on the reef into the freestyle mix. Once again Campello spent a little more time in the water after trying his hardest to match Estredo, but the top-seed had survived the ordeal and notched this critical first win of the season.‘Oh Yeah! I’m happy to have won that and beaten Ricardo twice’ said Estredo. ‘He’s my friend and that means it’s fun to sail together as we push each other so much in competition, and just freesailing at home. I was a little rattled this morning to lose to him, but you can’t just expect to win, so thankfully my training has paid off in the double elimination’
The women’s final was a cracker. Moreno was using the ramps on the reef which probably made the difference for her as Offringa concentrated more on the sliding tricks.
Daida was launching into massive back loops, pushloops, forwards and even threw two Air-Chachos for good measure. Of course she also busted-out a fairly comprehensive range of other moves like ponches, spocks and grubbies too.
Offringa fought hard with switch-stance tricks and impressed the judges with her up to date repertoire. 'Actually I sailed better and better throughout the day’ she explained’ This morning I was a bit sketchy, I was lucky to make the single final really, and then I found my feet. This afternoon’s conditions were better too as the waves left really smooth spots in between them for tricks while the rest of the course was choppy. But, Daida was on-fire and I was just amped to make the final and especially because I landed a Funnel in competition too’
Skipper’s meeting is at 10.00 tomorrow and the plan is to kick start the Slalom racing. The freestylers will be checking in at 12.00 to see if they’ll be back in action in the afternoon.
The growing swell could make for some all-time surf-slalom racing so be sure to tune into www.pwaworldtour.com to follow every development.
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© PWA / Brian McDowell