30 knots of wind and mast high swell have certainly made the first day of The PWA Lanzarote Freestyle Grand Slam an epic affair.
After the 10 am skippers meeting the sailors were sent out to do battle in the heaving Atlantic Ocean. The morning high tide was creating a mass of swirling water on the inside with waves exploding all over the competition area. Finding a smooth piece of water for manoeuvres was proving tricky but the likes of Konan LANG (Naish) and Kauli SEADI (AHD/Naish) were making it look easy.
The first round saw all the usual suspects advance. Local hotshot Antxon OTAEGUI (JP/Neil Pryde) was drawn against current freestyle world champion Ricardo CAMPELLO (JP/Neil Pryde) and although Otaegui sailed well he couldn't quite match the competition experience and cool head of Campello.
By early afternoon the fleet had been whittled down to the top 16 and the level of sailing was increasing all the time.
First of the big guys to get eliminated was former World Freestyle Champion Antoine ALBEAU (AHD/Neil Pryde) who despite loving strong wind conditions could not match the consistency of Spanish ripper Victor FERNANDEZ (Fanatic) who was looking controlled, mixing huge forward loops with the latest switch stance, clew first trickery.
Also looking good in the extreme conditions were Colin SIFFERLEN (Starboard/Severne) and John SKYE (F2/Arrows) who both managed to string together enough moves to advance through to the quarterfinals along with Julien TABOULET (JP/Neil Pryde), Diony GUADAGNINO (Neil Pryde), Konan LANG, Tonky FRANS (F2/Gaastra), Kauli SEADI (AHD/Naish) and Ricardo CAMPELLO.
The UK's Robby SWIFT (JP/Neil Pryde) missed out on a place in the quarters after dropping a few crucial moves in his heat against Julien TABOULET. Time will tell if Swifty can come back fighting in the double elimination.
In the women's fleet Karin JAGGI (F2/Arrows) and Daida MORENO (Mistral/North) cruised through to the final whilst a gutsy performance from Spain's Silvia OROZCO (Neil Pryde) saw her make it through to the losers final against Iballa MORENO (Mistral/North). The Moreno's are not known for taking it easy and in the semi final Iballa launched into a full on double forward loop but came down hard and twisted her ankle causing her to miss her losers final. Watch this space for updates on her condition. Jaggi and Daida MORENO pulled out all the stops in their final mixing old school freestyle transitions with new school sliding manoeuvres. Both sailors really going for it in the insane conditions here in Lanzarote. Jaggi won the single elimination final leaving Daida to fight it out in the double elimination.
The Men's quarterfinal was a hard fought battle of tactics and skill. The trio of Brazilian sailors Seadi, Lang and Campello showed that they are a force to be reckoned with on the PWA Freestyle World Tour busting out all number of tricks including Air Chachos, Switch Stance Clew First Spocks and the latest switch stance trick the Gozada on their way to the semi final. Joining them in the semis was Guadagnino who was sailing well and looking in control.
The semi final was a real champion's affair with Lang v Guadagnino and Seadi v Campello. Seadi positioned himself right in front of the judges and made sure that every trick was nailed with precision. Campello failed to complete a couple of his moves as he battled against the force seven wind and allowed an on form Seadi through to the final. In the other semi final Guadagnino was going high on his aerial tricks and landing some stylish Ponchs and contorted switch stance spocks whilst Lang was sliding thorough all manner of Flaka and Spock variations. It was Guadagnino though who impressed the judges more and advanced through to the final.
After a short break Guadagnino and Seadi launched off the beach and out into the Atlantic swells. After a tense six minute heat where each sailor put on a display of radical sailing skills it was Seadi who stole the show with his usual brand of sliding freestyle tricks and seemingly effortless aerial antics to take the victory over Guadagnino.
So that's the end of the first day of the PWA Lanzarote Freestyle and Super X Grand Slam. The forecast for wind is good so it is expected that the double elimination will start tomorrow, giving the all sailors another chance at glory. Stay tuned to the event website for all the latest news and pictures.