Six sailors remain in the battle for the first single elimination of the men¹s freestyle here at La coupe Des Isles PWA, 2002 Freestyle Grand Prix.
Nik Baker (North, Mistral), Matt Pritchard (Gaastra, AHD), Josh Stone (JP, Neil Pryde), Ricardo Campello (JP, Neil Pryde), Vidar Jensen (North) and Robby Swift (JP, Neil Pryde) all advanced towards the final before dying winds early this afternoon lead to the abandonment of competition.
It was a tough day at the office for competitors today as they struggled with the 12-18 knot winds, which hovered around the borderline of what is deemed suitable conditions for competition. Head freestyle judge, Klaus Michael chose to hold competition on the Isle du Havre Aubert at Sandy Hook the southernmost of point of the Islands. Despite the tricky conditions today there was still plenty of hot action going down with the best freestyle sailors in the world performing close to the beach in front of the Canadian crowds.
In the top half of the draw England¹s Nik Baker and Matt Pritchard of America both advanced through to the first semi final. Baker was on fine form today and pulled of his usual array of technical wizardry whilst defeating the likes of Christian Sammer (F2, Arrows) in the second round and Diony Guadagnino (JP, Neil Pryde) in first of the quarterfinals. Matt Pritchard had to pull out all the stops in his quarterfinal bout against Brazilian Samba sensation Kauli Seadi (Naish boards, Naish sails). Nailing several spock variations and a slick grubby right in front of the judges, Pritchard managed to hold off the challenge from Seadi who failed to live up to his potential in the light winds.
NIK BAKER (North, Mistral) It was light out there today. Matt and I were on 7m and 6.9m in the last heat. You had to use the swell to help get planning and as soon as you were in the straps you had to bust out your maneuver. It was difficult but the same for everybody. Every guy in this competition is real good and considering how difficult the conditions are people were doing fantastic stuff left right and centreŠIt was amazing! I am stoked to still be in the contest, this is only the first day so there is still a long way to go.
The bottom half of the draw is poised at the quarter final stage with Britain¹s Robby Swift lined up to face Hawaiian freestyle guru Josh Stone and Norwegian high flyer, Vidar Jensen ready to take on current world tour leader Ricardo Campello. Robby Swift opened up his account here in Canada today by taking down hot American freestyle specialist Web Pedrick (AHD, North). Swift made better of the conditions and is now fired up for his impending battle with Josh Stone. Stone meanwhile, was responsible for taking down Caribbean trick maestro Tati Frans in the second round. Despite the inclement weather Tati still managed to impress the chicks on the beach by sailing his heat in his shorts (Most other competitors were using 3 x 2mm long legged wetsuits!).
JOSH STONE (JP, Neil Pryde) I have got old Swifty in my next heat. I love the kid so could never have a battle against him. I will just tie him up to a stake instead! He is sailing very good and has been practicing hard. I am feeling very relaxed over here and I have a very positive vibe going.
Ricardo Campello is still on track to take this years overall freestyle today title after defeating Brazilian PWA newcomer Konan Lang (Naish Boards, Naish sails). His next battle against Vidar Jensen, who took down Britain¹s Chris Audsley in the second round, could be a vital heat in his campaign to take the title and no doubt tension will be running high when action continues.
RICARDO CAMPELLO (JP, Neil Pryde) ³Right now I am first place in the rankings and I want to get past Vidar and do my best to make the final. I am going to go for it!
The day started badly for John Skye of England who was beaten in the opening heat of the day by Nathan Mershon (Naish Boards, Naish sails) of America. Skyboy who is currently lying second overall in the world tour freestyle rankings failed to sail a consistent heat in the tricky conditions and will now have to wait for the double elimination for a second chance.
JOHN SKYE (F2, Arrows) I am broken. I had a shocker today, I looked at my watch with about three minutes to go and I thought to myself. So far, I have crashed everything! I managed to nail three moves in the last two minutes but that is not enough to win a world cup heat. It is not over yet I hope!
The forecast for tomorrow is for south winds and it looks like we could well be changing location to one of the more northerly of the Madeleine Islands.