This September marks the 30th anniversary of the biggest windsurfing event on the calendar, as the finest wave, freestyle and slalom sailors on the planet prepare to flock to the famous shores of Westerland, Sylt, Germany, once again, from 27 September until 6 October in front of crowds in excess of 200,000 people.
Located 186km northwest of Hamburg, Westerland is Germany's northernmost town 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 wave fleets. On the other hand Sylt can also produce idyllic racing and freestyle conditions, when offshore winds grace the island with their presence. 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.
What's The Deal?
A ten day windsurfing extravaganza which will see all three, fantastic, disciplines - wave, slalom and freestyle - going head-to-head as they battle it out for those crucial world tour points. For the Expect to see the temperature rise as the men's freestyle, men's slalom and women's wave PWA World titles are decided right here, right now, whilst the title race for the men's wave heads towards it climax.
Ones to Watch
The reigning world champion Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) comes into the event in pole position knowing that if he wins in Sylt, he is guaranteed back-to-back world titles. The big Frenchman won here in 2012 and he'll be hoping to replicate that result come the end of the event. Albeau deals superbly with a whole host of conditions, so it looks like he'll be tough to beat. Expect to see perfectly timed starts with blistering speed as he looks to keep the rest of the competitors at bay.
Fellow compatriot Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) currently occupies second place in the overall rankings after a superb season thus far. Quentel has shown brilliant consistency and he'll be hoping to maintain his form in the final event of the year, as he looks to finish on the prestigious podium for the first time in his career.
Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7) is the only other person - asides from Albeau - to have won an event this year - the Italian's first every victory - and thus represents Albeau's biggest danger. Menegatti will need to muster up the power to find another victory and hope that the current leader slips up to be in with a chance of the title, but never say never, especially in Sylt where almost anything can happen.
Ben van der Steen (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic / Different), Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne) and Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Loft Sails) will all be looking to produce strong performances as they look to finish in the overall top five or better.
There will of course be a ferocious battle for the remaining top ten as Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz) looks to complete a turbulent season on a high, along with the likes of Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails), Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails), Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde), Matteo Iachino (F2 / Challenger / AL360) and Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North). Of course the talents of Finian Maynard (RRD / Avanti), Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun Sails) and Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) can never be overlooked either.
Having experienced defeat for the first time since 2012 - Jose 'Gollito' Estredo (Fanatic / North) - will be eager to reassert his dominance in the world of freestyle as he looks to secure his sixth PWA Freestyle World title. However, fresh from his first victory since 2011 - Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra) - will have other ideas as he goes in search of his maiden world title, having finished the past two years at the vice-world champion. The two freestyle wizards have enjoyed an epic battle so far this season and the next ten days should see their mammoth fight continue.
The 2011 PWA Freestyle World Champion - Steven van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde / Different) is also still in the run for the title. The Belgian maestro has demonstrated his explosive power time and time again this season to be consistently challenging for top honors, and he is one man who will need to be watched carefully over the duration of the event.
Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra) and Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) will of course to be massive threats as always, along with their fellow Bonaireans Amado Vrieswijk (Starboard / Severne) and Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard / Hot Sails Maui), with their unique island style proving to be a huge hit with both the crowds and the judges.
Anthony Ruenes (Tabou / Gaastra) will be hoping to defend his place in the top five, but the radical Frenchman is going to face stiff competition in the shape of Dieter Van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne) and Youp Schmit (JP / NeilPryde). Whilst Davy Scheffers (Tabou / Gaastra) and Philip Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks) could make a late surge up the rankings once discards come into play, from their current ninth and tenth place rankings respectively.
Philip Köster (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) still sits at the top of the rankings, but he's being pushed all the way, so far, this year. The wonderkid won in Tenerife, but he couldn't quite find victory in Cold Hawaii, as he had to settle for second place. Marcilio 'Brawzinho' Browne (Goya Windsurfing / MFC) was the man who managed to beat him after a super performance in Denmark, which was the Brazilian's first victory on the PWA Wave World Tour. Now with confidence at an all time high Browne will be looking to continue his charge for the top. Expect to see both of them throwing themselves through massive double forwards and radical wave rides.
Alex Mussolini (Tabou / Gaastra) currently occupies second place, after two third places thus far this year. The Spaniard is renowned for his, almost, unrivaled wave riding, which was demonstrated once more in Cold Hawaii where he was the only sailor to achieve tens for a wave ride. Mussolini finished in second place here last year and he'll be looking to throw more radical wave 360s and fluid takas to do exactly the same this year, or even go one better.
Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / North / MFC) and Thomas Traversa (Tabou / Gaastra) are just behind the current top three at the moment, but they'll be looking to re-establish themselves on the heralded podium come the end of the event. Expect to see Fernandez throwing trademark double forwards, whilst Traversa unleashes delicious wave riding to take down their respective opponents.
Lean Jamaer (Fanatic / Hot Sails Maui) is continuing to go from strength-to-strength this year. The German has a fifth and seventh place finishes this season - his best to date - and he'll be looking to continue his rich vein of form in Sylt.
Ricardo Campello (JP / NeilPryde / MFC) took an earlier than anticipated exit in Denmark and he'll be looking to instantly set the record straight. Campello has a no fear attitude and you can expect to see him return with a vengeance as he looks to re-establish himself in the top five of the world. Teammate Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) will be looking to continue his remarkable comeback from injury, which saw him finish fifth in Cold Hawaii.
Jules Denel (JP / NeilPryde) will be feeling very confident ahead of the fourth event of the year after his best finish to date on the PWA World Tour - fifth - and he'll looking onwards and upwards over the next ten days. Denel is likely to face stiff competition from John Skye (RRD / MFC), who has been in terrific form thus far, busting out double forwards and silky wave rides. Adam Lewis (Patrik / Point-7) will be another name to keep a careful eye on, the Brit is renowned for his powerful style and he'll be gouging the wave to pieces as he goes in search of another top ten finish.
Also in the mix will be the likes of German, Klaas Voget (Fanatic / Simmer / MFC), Dany Bruch (Starboard / Severne / AL360) - who will be looking to exact revenge after a shock early exit in Denmark - Omar Sanchez (Patrik / Loft Sails), Martin ten Hoeve (Goya Windsurfing / MFC) and Ben Proffitt (Simmer).
Also on the entry list is the 2009 PWA Wave World Champion Josh Angulo, who will be looking to show everyone he's still got what it takes to challenge the very best, whilst Britain's Ross Williams, who finished fifth here last year and ninth overall will also be making an appearance, which could cause a few upsets.
Daida Ruano Moreno (Starboard / Severne) currently sits at the top of the rankings, just ahead of the reigning world champion Iballa Ruano Moreno (Starboard / Severne). The legendary Moreno twins are continuing their dominance of the wave sailing world and you can be sure that the next ten days will see another colossal battle between these two iconic women.
Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne) currently completes the podium and the Swiss gem will be looking to rotate through perfect backloops to see off fellow podium contenders Steffi Wahl (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg) and Nayra Alonso (Fanatic / Severne) - who is making her return to the PWA this year, having become a mother for the first time last year. Alonso finished in fifth place in Tenerife and looked as though she was gaining confidence with every heat, which make her a serious threat for the top four and beyond.
The Dutch duo of Eva Oude Ophuis (Fanatic / North) and Amanda Beenen (Tabou / Gaastra) combined with France's Alice Arutkin (Fanatic / North) will be hoping that they can force their way into the top five too.
Sylt promises amazing action both on and off the water making this event one that you simply can't afford to miss. If you aren't lucky enough to be able to attend in person, then don't worry, as you'll be able to follow all of the superb action live via the PWA TV at www.pwaworldtour.com