The 2007 Gran Canaria PWA Grand Slam – Day 1
Pozo turns it on for the start of a historic wave sailing single elimination. Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / Simmer) wins a ground-breaking men’s final against Kauli Seadi (Quatro / Naish) who landed the first ever push-forward in competition. Daida Moreno (North) breaks barriers in the women’s sport against her sister, the current world wavesailing champion Iballa Moreno (North)
Some of the best wind and swell conditions the PWA has seen in Gran Canaria in recent years rocked-up right on time for the summer extravaganza that is the PWA Grand Slam at Pozo Izquirda.
With Slalom racing and women’s freestyle also on the menu, and no shortage of wind forecast for the entire holding period, it was a no-brainer to get the wave single elimination underway.
Set waves of up to logo high rolled in, and as the low tide approached and steady trade winds blew, it became apparent just how high the standard’s shot up since last season - and even since the last event.
Jumps and manoeuvres that were only really seen at the final stages in 2006 were standard in the first and second round heats today, and the old guard perched higher up the seeding certainly looked worried as they waited their turns to sail.
Sure enough, heads fell, and the main controversies the day coughed-up were the ejection of both tour- leader Josh Angulo, and reigning wave champ Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails).
Angulo went down to Pozo hell-man Orjan Jensen (North) and Pritchard, in his first and only heat of the day, became victim to another daring local, Dario Ojeda (Quatro / Gaastra), who advanced all the way to the loser’s final.
The day’s two obvious form players sure enough met in the final despite Ojeda and Vidar Jensen (North) being no pushovers in the semi-finals.
In the final Seadi blew minds when he landed the first ever Push-loop forward – fairly cleanly to the crowds delight. But Fernandez was solid in both riding and jumping, and seemed to edge Seadi out in terms of riding.
‘I was already happy just to be in the final today, as the semi- was pretty amazing anyway, and the level is sky high’ said Fernandez. ‘I started pretty relaxed and concentrated even though I crashed twice trying doubles at the start…in fact it reminded me of the semi last year when I started badly and then came back towards the end. But then I landed a perfect double, a push-table and tried my best to ride towards the end, and got a taka and some nice waves. It’s a hard place to sail even on your best form, but I’m stoked. I didn’t see Kauli’s Push-Forward but I heard it was pretty sick, so I feel lucky to have won’
The women’s event was fairly straightforward despite the bar being raised from last season, and the Moreno sisters didn’t have it easy on their way to the final. Karin Jaggi (F2 / North) and Nayra Alonso (Fanatic / Severne) put up the biggest fight and they met in the loser’s final where Jaggi took the honors to secure third.
By now the lower tide had treated the women to some of the best conditions of the day, and neither of the finalists held back. Huge stalled-forwards, backloops and stylish riding were de-rigueur. Daida ruled the air and Iballa typically made the most of the waves.
Daida Moreno added to the spectacle by landing the first Pushloop-tabletop ever seen in a women’s competition, and it was a beauty, fully tweaked, high and boned-out for ages.
Daida talked us through it. ‘The heat was great as we had 10 minutes and a lot of time to work on scoring points. I know Iballa is strong in wave riding so I tried to concentrate on that first, before I landed a pretty huge backloop on the outside. After that I pulled a Pushloop-tabletop and then a big forward and towards the end I water-started out of a double forward. I was stoked with my performance, and I saw Iballa do some nice stuff – a high backloop and a tabletop forward, and I was sure it was a pretty close one, but we both came out of the water pretty happy’
After the single elimination finals the first round of the double elimination was completed and the plan is to complete the double tomorrow. All the racers and freestylers are on hold until the swell drops later in the week. Skipper’s meeting tomorrow is at 09.30.
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© PWA / Brian McDowell