The thirst for wave action was well and truly quenched yesterday in Pozo. At the 8.30 skippers meeting it was clear that the increasing wind and pushing tide were going to bring with them the potential for wave competition.
By 9.00 we were on and the aerial antics were in full swing.
The first big name to fall was Antoine ALBEAU (AHD/Neil Pryde) who was out sailed by Nik BAKER (Mistral/North). For a few minutes in heat number eight of the first round it looked as though Bjorn DUNKERBECK (Neil Pryde) was on his way out of the competition too as he crashed his first three jumps but in true terminator style he pulled himself together and landed a couple of clean back loops and rode some solid waves to advance, much to the delight of the local crowd that packed the sea front here in Pozo.
Midway through the second round the locals were about to be disappointed as local hotshot Jonas CEBALLOS (Fanatic/Gaastra) lost to an on form John SKYE (F2/Arrows) who landed a perfect dry ankle double forward in the heat. Jonas was gutted and John was understandably ecstatic!
As we progressed there were two sailors really standing out from the usual crop of wave specialists. The first was Alex MUSSOLINI (JP/Neil Pryde) from Spain who was sailing really well landing some awesome push loops and tabletop forwards. Alex has been spending a lot of time in the Canaries and it showed. The other sailor looking good was Ben PROFFITT (JP/Neil Pryde) who competing in his first ever Pozo wave event pulled of a number of Takas and clean back loops to advance all the way to the quarterfinals.
Josh ANGULO has been out practicing at every available opportunity this week and was eager to make it to the final but took a shock exit in the third round, losing to that man Mussolini! Josh will now have to go all out in the double elimination if he has any chance of winning here in Pozo.
The quarterfinals saw V Jensen (North Sails) v Proffitt, Baker v Dunkerbeck and Fernandez (Fanatic) v McKercher (Starboard) and Kevin PRITCHARD (Starboard/Gaastra) v Mussolini. Jensen was on form and Proffitt just couldn't answer back. Baker looked good but also a touch over powered, which caused him to drop a few big jumps, Dunkerbeck on the other hand, was looking powerful and did enough to advance to the semi finals. Fernandez a top tip to make it to the final struggled a bit and failed to find any big ramps to launch off. Normally one of the best jumpers in Pozo but today wasn't his day. His opponent McKercher was using his radical carving wave riding to full effect and bagged a couple of sweet waves that connected all the way into the beach, throwing buckets of spray at every opportunity to beat Fernandez. Pritchard busted out some big push loops and looked good but he didn't bet on Mussolini's wave ride that saw him land a push loop and a forward loop off the lip on the same wave. Mussolini advanced leaving Pritchard with some work to do in the double elimination.
The Semi of Vidar v Dunkerbeck was a real local's brawl. Both sailors are past champions here in Pozo and this heat was always going to be close. Back loops, table top forwards, push loops, double forwards, you name it these guys were going at it like their life's depended on it. In the end it was Vidar who pulled out ahead and took the heat win from the mighty Dunkerbeck.
McKercher was on a roll and his semi final against Mussolini was an Aussie wave riding master class, even in the small choppy swell McKercher seemed able to pick out the premium sets and ride them with speed, power and style, sliding his tail out at every opportunity. Mussolini went for it but the experience of McKercher shone through.
The Ladies fleet saw action from early afternoon and they went all out in the gale force winds. Loops, Table Tops, Push Loops are now a standard feature in the ladies fleet. Each competitor looked motivated to go all the way to the final. Some heats were scoring as much as the men. Girl power to the extreme. The quarterfinals were full of talent, Silvia OROZCO (JP/Neil Pryde) v Iballa MORENO (Mistral/North Sails), Anna BLANCH v Karin JAGGI (F2/Arrows) and Anne-Marie REICHMANN (Naish/Naish Sails) v Nayra ALONSO (Fanatic) and Ania OSTROWSKA v Daida MORENO (Mistral/North Sails). The victors were Iballa MORENO, Karin JAGGI, Nayra ALONSO and Daida MORENO. The Moreno's were looking particularly at home in the radical conditions. They learnt to windsurf in Pozo so are more than a little used to the strong winds and choppy water. Busting out clean one handed back loops and tweaked table top forwards they busted down the doors to the final, which left Jaggi and Alonso to fight it out in the losers' final. Nayra has been basing herself in Pozo for the last few months and it showed with nice jumps and some slashy riding. She couldn't quite beat the experience and power of Jaggi though who took the victory in the losers' final.
The Moreno v Moreno final was amazing. Both girls went out there to show the judges and the crowds what they were capable of. What a display it was, double forwards, back loops and wave riding aerials were packed into the eight-minute heat. They went off. In the end it was Daida's bigger jumps that stole the show and saw her take victory over her sister. Going for two double forwards and a host of other aerial insanity she showed that female windsurfing is alive and kicking.
So the men's finals went as follows. Loser's final Dunkerbeck v Mussolini and winner's final, Jensen v McKercher. Mussolini landed some big back loops but Dunkerbeck went higher and found some longer and bigger waves to ride. Mussolini was no doubt just overjoyed to be in a final and losing to Dunkerbeck a 13 times world champion is nothing to be ashamed about. In fact give him a little while to hone his tactics and Mussolini could very well be a world champion himself.
Somebody who has been hungry for a wave world title for a long time is Scott McKercher. Hailing from wave blessed Western Australia Scott would be a major threat in a down the line contest but until now hasn't managed to win in the onshore conditions here in Pozo. Today was to be his day to shine. Using his own brand of wave riding style he sliced and diced his way through the onshore waves getting more turns on the waves than anybody else. His jumping too was full on, landing a big one handed back loop mid-way through the heat he was showing great promise. Vidar was jumping really well too and looked to be going that bit higher than Scott but just as the crowds thought he was going into over drive he snapped his mast during a double forward attempt that left him a long way out to sea and swimming. Lighting quick reactions from his brother Orjan (North Sails) saw a fresh set of kit on its way to him in less than 2 minutes. Those 2 minutes saw Scott land another back loop and ride a good wave. Even a big Crazy Pete jump from Vidar couldn't make up for the lost time and in the end it was an emotional McKercher who stood proud in 1st place on the podium.
With barely enough time to say tabletop-forward-loop the double elimination kicked off and as I write this it is in mid flow. Tomorrow will see the climax of the double. Can locals Jonas CEBALLOS and Victor FERNANDEZ come back to challenge today's finalists and can Angulo fight his way to the top?