Davidoff Cool Water Sylt PWA World Cup
Event Preview: Prepare for 10 pulsating days as one of the biggest events of the year kicks off — featuring all 3 disciples and the world’s best sailors
It’s time for one of the biggest events of the year again, which sees all three disciplines involved — slalom, freestyle and wave — as the world’s best sailors prepare to descend upon Sylt’s sandy shores once again for the 2015 Davidoff Sylt PWA Grand Slam, which runs between the 25th September until the 4th October.
The next 10 day ahead promise to be action packed with the men’s freestyle world title being decided right here and the pressure will be higher than ever with no discard for 2015 — meaning any mistake will be punished to the maximum. Meanwhile, the men’s slalom world title race will continue to gather pace, as will both the men’s and women’s waves.
Westerland is Germany’s northernmost town, located 186km northwest of Hamburg, and is situated on the beautiful North Sea Island of Sylt. Thanks to its affluent, glamorous lifestyle and thriving tourism industry, Westerland, has earned the reputation of being the ‘Beverly Hills’ of Germany.
Some say that variety is the spice of life and in this sense Sylt never disappoints as you never quite know what to expect — thanks to the huge variation of conditions that this wonderful island can produce. In strong onshore winds a colossal shore break develops — ready to crush the hopes of any unsuspecting competitors — along with powerful waves of up to three or four meters in size, which provide amazing wave sailing conditions, whilst producing a real challenge for the slalom and freestyle fleets. On the other hand Sylt can also produce great racing and freestyle conditions, when offshore winds grace the island with their presence, although it can then be bitterly cold. One thing is for sure, to win here you need to be the complete all rounder who is willing to have their mettle tested to breaking point.
The men’s world title race comes to a boil here in Sylt and it looks as though it will be a straight fight between Dieter Van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne) and Kiri Thode (Starboard / GA Sails). The Belgian is hunting for a maiden world crown, whilst Thode is looking to add to his 2013 world title.
As things stand the duo are level on points, but Van der Eyken leads having beaten Thode more times this year. The pressure will be higher than ever with both sailors knowing whoever finishes higher come the end of the event will win the 2015 PWA Freestyle World Tour — as long as they finish fifth or higher — which would seem like a formality given the way they have both been sailing so far this season.
However, if for whatever reason, both Van der Eyken and Thode were to finish outside the top five there is still the outside possibility that Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne) could walk away with this year’s title, but to have any chance of doing that the Bonairean would have to beat both of his rivals by at least five places. So for example if Van der Eyken or Thode finished sixth or worse then Vrieswijk would need to win the event — seventh or worse would require a second place finish or better, etc.
Elsewhere Antony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails) has made a rapid recovery from the injury he suffered in Fuerteventura and makes the entry list for the final freestyle event of the year. The Frenchman currently occupies joint fourth in the rankings alongside fellow countryman — Nicolas Akgazciyan (99NoveNove / Point-7 / AL360 / Maui Ultra Fins) — and both still have a shot of pipping Vrieswijk to the final place on the podium. It’s sure to be an intriguing battle between Ruenes and Akgazciyan as they fight to be the top ranked Frenchman.
As always the remainder of the Bonaire crew — Tonky Frans (Tabou / GA Sails), Taty Frans (Starboard / GA Sails / Mystic) and Youp Schmit (99NoveNove / Avanti) — will be major threats. Plus the likes of Davy Scheffers (Tabou / GA Sails), Yentel Caers (JP / NeilPryde) and Phil Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks), whilst three-time world champion Ricardo Campello (Patrik / Point-7 / MFC) and reigning wave world champion — Thomas Traversa (Tabou / GA Sails) — could easily cause some major upsets.
They’ll be no world title No.7 this time around for Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / North / MFC) after the King of Freestyle finished fifteenth in Fuerte due to illness, but the multiple-time world champion will be desperate to end the year with a bang and could yet play a major role in deciding the eventual winner of this year’s title.
Like Gollito there will also be no world title for Steven Van Broeckhoven this year. The Belgian was leading the tour before a foot injury ruled him out of Fuerteventura — ending his hopes — but he’ll also be wanting to end the year with a flourish.
Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) still leads the way in this year’s title race having discarded his seventh place finish in Turkey, but the reigning world champion doesn’t have any room for error with Matteo Iachino (Fanatic / North) and Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) firmly breathing down his neck. However, he is still the man everyone else has to beat — especially when you consider that he was won two out of the last three events in Sylt. Expect to see Albeau return to his best after a minor blip as he looks to stay in control of the title race.
Matteo Iachino has established himself as one of the top title contenders for 2015 — showing a level of experience and consistency beyond his young years. The twenty-five year old comes into Sylt on the back of three consecutive podium finishes and you can be sure he’ll be there or there abouts come the end of the event again as he looks to maintain the pressure on Albeau.
Pierre Mortefon had been threatening to win an event on several occasions over the last couple of years and in Turkey last time out everything clicked into place as he earned his maiden victory on the PWA Slalom World tour with a devastating display, which saw the Frenchman win three out of four eliminations. Confidence will be sky high off the back of that victory and Mortefon has already proven how versatile he is when it comes to the conditions, so he is perfectly equipped to attack the top again.
Just behind the front three is Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic), who continues to enjoy a fine season having finished in the top six or better at the opening four events. Williams will be hoping for another big performance as he looks to re-establish himself in the prestigious top three.
The Brit currently holds a substantial advantage over his next closest rivals — and teammates — Ben Van der Steen (Tabou / GA Sails) and Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) — who occupy fifth and sixth respectively.
Meanwhile, the top ten is currently completed by vice-world champion — Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne) — Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne), Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / Point-7) and Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Point-7).
However, the battle for the overall top ten is still extremely close and the usual suspects of Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde), Antoine Questel (Starboard / GA Sails), Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Loft Sails / Mystic) — together with Malte Reuscher (JP / NeilPryde) and Tristan Algret — both of whom enter Sylt on the back of their best performances ever, should all be involved again.
Philip Köster (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) and Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / North / MFC) have been almost inseparable so far this season and as a result they head into the fourth event of the year tied on points. Köster technically holds the lead having beaten Fernandez more times this season, but you can be sure of another pulsating battle between the top two in the world. Expect to see more gravity defying stunts and explosive wave moves as they continue to go toe-to-toe with each other.
Jaeger Stone (Starboard / Severne) cemented his place in the overall top three with another excellent performance in Denmark, which saw Stone take home fourth place. The Australian has established himself as one of the leading contenders on the tour and you can be sure that he’ll be challenging for the top again with more signature wave riding.
Alex Mussolini (RRD / RRD) currently holds fourth place, just ahead of Ricardo Campello and the Spaniard will be looking to bust out more of his trademark frontside 3s as he looks to discard his ninth place finish from Denmark and cement his place in the top four and beyond. Campello will be a huge threat again with is explosive jumping repertoire and will be desperate to better his seventh place finish from Cold Hawaii.
Reigning world champion — Thomas Traversa (Tabou / GA Sails) — finds himself in sixth place at the moment, but with only half the season complete that could all change very easily. Meanwhile, Marcilio Browne (Goya Windsurfing / MFC) comes into Sylt on the back of his best result this year, which saw the Brazilian return to the prestigious podium and you can expect to see another big performance as Browne looks to gather momentum heading into the second half of the year.
Britain’s Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins / SWOX) together with German’s Dany Bruch (Starboard / Challenger Sails / AL360) and Klaas Voget (Fanatic / Simmer / MFC) complete the top ten at this stage of the season.
With the level remaining so incredibly high at the moment almost anyone in the wave fleet has the potential to mount a challenge for the top ten and beyond, so also keep an eye out for Adam Lewis (Fanatic / North / SWOX), Jules Denel (JP / NeilPryde), Florian Jung (RRD / Gun Sails) and Alessio Stillrich (Fanatic / North) — who looks to have taken his sailing to another level.
Daida Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) leads the title race, just as she did at this stage last year, having won the opening two events of the year in comprehensive fashion. Daida has been on her A-game throughout and you can expect to see another immaculate performance from her as she looks to further cement her place at the top of the rankings. Brace yourself for massive stalled forwards and trademark one-handed backloops as she looks to do just that.
Iballa Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) has been bravely sailing through the pain barrier so far this year, and in spite of that, still remains right on the tail of her sister with two, second place finishes thus far. Expect to see more silky wave rides together with a full arsenal of jumps as she looks to sustain the pressure on Daida at the top.
Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) currently completes the prestigious top three having finished third and fourth in Pozo, Gran Canaria, and El Medano, Tenerife, respectively, but she’ll face major competition from Amanda Beenen (99NoveNove / Point-7) if she wants to keep third place. Both women have been pushing themselves to the limits and you can expect to see them going even bigger here as they continue their fascinating battle.
Just behind them is Steffi Wahl (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg), who is always in contention for the top five and beyond. Wahl excels in the wave riding department and should feature heavily again.
Alice Arutkin (Fanatic / North) — who finished third overall last year — is currently tied in joint sixth with Poland’s Justyna Sniady (Simmer / Mystic), whilst Italian Caterina Stenta (RRD / Maui Ultra Fins) isn’t far behind and has been improving with every event this season.
The forecast keeps changing at the moment, but to begin the event it looks as though either the freestyle or slalom fleets will be taking centre stage first with moderate northwesterly winds being predicted for the opening weekend. As always you’ll be able to follow all of the incredible action live via the PWA live stream and live ticker @ www.pwaworldtour.com.