The 5th event on the 2018 PWA World Tour sees a brand new addition to the calendar, which will see the Women’s Freestyle fleet in action for the first time this season, while also being the 4th stop on the Men’s Slalom World Tour. Meanwhile, the next 8 days will prove crucial for the world’s fastest women as the Viana PWA World Cup (13th-20th June) will be where the 2018 Women’s PWA Slalom World Championship will be decided.
Viana do Castello is about a 45-minute drive north from Porto Airport and is considered the jewel of the Costa Verde thanks to it’s medieval heritage, stunning beaches and nature. Viana do Castello is also one of, it not the most popular spots in North Portugal and boasts some of the best wind stats in the country, which makes it a wind enthusiasts dream, while it offers conditions for every level with the harbour offering flat water - perfect for learning or slalom - while the further down the beach you go the more wavy the conditions become. Feel Viana Hotel offers the perfect getaway - blending luxury with the great outdoors. In terms of the forecast you just need a northerly component in the wind and clear skies and then you can just let the thermal effect do the rest with winds regularly reaching 25 knots.
The view overlooking Feel Viana - Viana do Castello
Ones To Watch
Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) comes into the new season bidding to win her 11th PWA Freestyle World Championship - 15th overall - and will start as the favourite having dominated the freestyle scene for the last decade.
However, Offringa may face her toughest challenge in many years to retain her title with vice-world champion - Maaike Huvermann (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins), Oda Johanne (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) and Arrianne Aukes (Fanatic / NorthSails / Maui Ultra Fins) - all continually pushing their level.
Last year Huvermann forced the title battle into a Super Final in Fuerteventura and therefore represents Offringa’s biggest threat - especially having finished her studies and spending the winter training in both Brazil and Vietnam. Huvermann has all of the diversity and variation to cause Offringa problems.
That may be one of the reasons that Offringa chose to spend more time at home this winter in the freestyle paradise of Aruba… making sure that she is ready to hit the water flying when the green flag goes up. Offringa’s latest videos show her landing the latest power moves and combos such as spock culos and she’ll be determined to hold on to her much loved Freestyle World title.
Sarah-Quita Offringa has 10 Freestyle World Titles
Meanwhile, Oda Johanne, who finished last year as the World No.3 will be a real threat again in Portugal. Johanne enjoyed a quick rise through the ranks since her debut in 2013 and has quickly established herself as one of the best female freestylers - earning top 3 finishes for the last 4 years. The 29-year-old could well use her starboard tack jumping repertoire - textbook forwards, backloops and pushloops - to her advantage as she looks to break back into the top 2 for the first time since 2015.
Arrianne Aukes is the remaining member of the big top 4 and it’s difficult to see anyone infiltrating their dominance, while the 31-year-old will be focused on trying to earn her place on the podium for the first time since 2013 in the opening battle of the 2018 season.
Delphine Cousin Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) comes into the final women’s slalom event of the year on the cusp of securing her 3rd Slalom world crown - having won both events in Japan and South Korea. However, the 26-year-old will be determined to sign off the season with a perfect record - particularly with reigning world champion Sarah-Quita Offringa returning to the fray - having been absent from the Asian leg of the tour. Cousin Questel has won the last 3 events on the world tour and you can expect to see her setting the pace again.
Delphine Cousin Questel
A top-two finish for Cousin Questel would guarantee her the title with her closest challenger Lena Erdil (Starboard / Point-7 / AL360 / Chopper Fins) trailing the 26-year-old by 200 points. The Turk basically has to win the event in order to keep her faint title hopes alive - while then requiring Cousin Questel to finish 3rd or worse. Erdil has had chances this season but made a series of errors to cost her event title winning opportunities. However, never say never and expect to see a strong finish to the season from Erdil.
Meanwhile, Marion Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails) holds a healthy advantage over Maélle Guilbaud (Patrik / Loftsails) as she aims to earn her second overall top 3 in as many years. Mortefon has a 400 point advantage over the Youth PWA Slalom World Champion and it’s difficult to see her relenting that lead.
Guilbaud though will enter Portugal full of confidence having won her first elimination in South Korea, which saw her secure a podium finish for the first time.
Esther de Geus (Fanatic / NorthSails) is currently tied on 19,400 points with Guilbaud and will be looking to maintain her consistent form as she looks to break into the top 5 for the first time in her career.
Esther de Geus
Elsewhere, talented 17-year-old - Lilou Granier (Starboard / Severne) - returns having missed South Korea due to exams. Granier finished 4th in Japan and will be in the hunt for the podium again, while Jenna Gibson (Fanatic / NorthSails) will be looking to more races having won the first elimination in South Korea - before trailing off.
Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses) comes into the 4th slalom event of the season as the current world tour leader. However both he, Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) and Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins) will be looking to bounce back from 9th, 10th and 11th place finishes respectively.
With only one slalom elimination completed in Costa Brava there is no real cause for concern regarding any of the aforementioned big names and the more racing that is completed, the more you would expect them to be at the top of the rankings such is there tremendous consistency.
Matteo Iachino & Antoine Albeau
So while Iachino and Albeau remain 1 and 2 in the world, Mortefon drops one place to 4th coming into Portugal with fellow Frenchman - Pascal Toselli (JP / Loftsails) - leapfrogging the 28-year-old. Toselli is now tied on points with Albeau after finishing 2nd in Costa Brava and has been one of the top sailors in the world for several seasons now, but is emerging as a title contender for 2018.
Finian Maynard (I-99) rolled back the years in Costa Brava in his final full season on tour to claim his first event victory on the world tour since 2012. The 43-year-old says he’s just concentrating on having fun and enjoying the racing and that formula seems to be working just fine. Maynard won every heat he sailed in Costa Brava and smoked the rest of the fleet in the final and could well be a contender again over the next 8 days.
Like Maynard, former vice-world champion - Cyril Moussilmani (RRD / Severne) - enjoyed a return to form in Spain as he walked away from Costa Brava with his first podium since 2016. The Frenchman will now look to use that result as a springboard for the rest of the season.
Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / NorthSails) maintained his best start to a season yet by claiming 5th in Costa Brava to remain 5th in the overall rankings. The flying Dutchman, who earned his first podium in 2017, seems to have developed a new level of consistency this season and is now the only man left to have qualified for every Winners’ Final this year - 6 out of 6. Expect Vonk to be in the thick of the action again.
Another sailor to be enjoying their best start to a season is Guadeloupe’s - Tristan Algret (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) - who comes into Portugal on the back of two 4th places - Japan and Costa Brava - and a 15th from South Korea, which sees him ranked 6th after 3 events and he could further enhance his bid to break into the overall top 10 come the end of the season with a discard to come after the completion of this event.
Meanwhile, the top 10 is currently completed by Saint Maarten’s Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti), Malte Italy’s Reuscher (Fanatic / NorthSails), Netherlands’ Ingmar Daldorf (Tabou / GA Sails) and Great Britain’s Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Shamal Sunglasses) - 7th-10th.
As the opening 3 events have proven the level on the world tour is unbelievably high right now and there a multitude of sailors who are more than capable of winning an elimination. You can also expect to see names such as Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde), Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde), Amado Vrieswijk (JP / Severne) - who won the foiling in Costa Brava - Maciek Rutkowski (I-99 / Challenger Sails), Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails), Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails) and Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails) - plus several others…
With an excellent forecast on offer, the first edition of the Viana PWA World Cup promises to provide plenty of scintillating action right from the word go. You can stay up to date with all the latest developments from Portugal — including the live stream, elimination ladders, entry list, images and live ticker simply by clicking HERE and scrolling to the bottom of the page.
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Schedule For Day 1: (All Times GMT+1)
- Registration 10-11am
- Freestyle Skippers’ Meeting - 12:30pm June 13th - Slalom Skippers' Meeting 10am June 14th
- First Possible Start - Freestyle 1:30pm June 13th - Slalom 10:30am June 14th