Men's Freestyle - Dedicated to André Paskowski
Having defeated Dieter van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne), Jose 'Gollito' Estredo (Fanatic / North) and then fellow countryman Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra) - Kiri Thode earned the chance to battle for the double elimination crown against Steven van Broeckhoven. With the light winds both sailors reached for their biggest equipment with Thode on 5.2m and van Broeckhoven on a 5.4m respectively. However, it was Thode who really excelled in the light conditions as he landed a ridiculous clew-first, and regular backloop, together with a trademark one-handed air bob as he dominated to force a super final. Van Broeckhoven did land some monster moves of his own such as a brilliant air bob and a massive kono, but it wasn't enough to defend his single elimination victory.
In the super final the wind became lighter and more gusty, but Thode was able to make more of the conditions on offer than his Belgium counterpart. Thode opened with an incredible, barely planing, culo, whilst van Broeckhoven rotated through a fast air flaka and a powerful culo of his own. The Bonairean though, continued his irresistible form as he exploded through a super stylish one-handed shaka, a fluid double spock and the best of the bunch another amazing one-handed air bob - as in the winners' final. Soon afterwards the results were announced that Thode had reigned supreme in the double elimination, at which point the twenty-three year old was overcome by emotion as it dawned upon him that he is now within touching distance of the maiden world title.
Kiri Thode speaks after fighting back in the double elimination to storm to victory:
"I knew that I had to perform really, really well and after sailing I'm super happy with my performance. I haven't been focusing on what results I needed, I was just trying to remain focused on today and I'm currently feeling very comfortable on the water. It's been a dream since I was six years old to be the freestyle world champion, and to be this close to it is amazing, I'm so close to realizing my dream. I'm so motivated right now and let's just see what happens."
Although Thode won the double elimination it could've so easily been a different story. In heat forty-eight Thode faced an on fire Dieter van der Eyken and the Belgium maestro pushed Thode all the way. By the end of the heat the two sailors were almost inseparable with just half a point difference between the judges. However, van der Eyken's final move of the heat on starboard tack was a regular chachoo, which he landed slightly wet. Unfortunately this proved to be a counting move for the twenty-one year old and ultimately this was the difference between the two sailors as Thode advanced.
That wasn't the only close call of the day either as the freestylers produced some stunning battles. In heat forty-three Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard / Hot Sails Maui) narrowly missed out to Phil Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks). Saragoza landed a stunning pasko, but with four moves from seven to count the Bonairean also half a switch chachoo to count, which resulted in him missing out. Soltysiak still produced an excellent heat with a brilliant skopu and a culo. Anthony Ruenes (Tabou / Gaastra) advanced by way of a 2:1 decision in his favor against Amado Vrieswijk (Starboard / Severne) to move into the top seven, but van der Eyken then stopped his fight back through the double. Heat forty-six B was also an incredibly close heat between Davy Scheffers (Tabou / Gaastra) and Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins). The two sailors were move-for-move with each other until the very end of the heat, at which point Scheffers attempted a shaka but had to settle for a shuvit, which proved to be his downfall as Frans advanced into the top six.
Ricardo Campello (JP / NeilPryde / MFC) eventually finished the double elimination in joint ninth after defeating Thomas Traversa (Tabou / Gaastra), receiving a bye past an injured Yarden Meir (Loft Sails / Maui Ultra Fins) and then knocking out Max Rowe (Fanatic / North). The former three-time PWA Freestyle World Champion landed stunning, almost, air shuvit spocks combined with burners, air flakas and air funnels to progress before van der Eyken stopped him in his tracks. Jacopo Testa (RRD / AL360) also achieved his first top ten finish on the PWA World Tour after defeating Choko Frans, Rick Jendrusch (F2 / Severne / Mystic) and finally Adrian Beholz (Fanatic / Sailloft Hamburg / Maui Ultra Fins).
Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7) made the best start to the winners' final just ahead of Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde). The Italian rounded the first mark ahead of Albeau, Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne) and Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra). Menegatti was able to hold his lead until the final mark at which point Albeau out maneuvered him to take the top spot. On the home straight Albeau made no mistakes as he now looks to have taken an almost unassailable lead as he goes in search of back-to-back world titles. Behind him Menegatti secured second place followed by Williams and Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails) - who made a brilliant comeback - to finish in third and fourth place respectively.
Elsewhere in the fifth elimination fifteen-year-old Ethan Westera (Starboard / Loft Sails) did brilliantly to qualify for the quarterfinals after finishing in fourth place in heat seven. Unfortunately the Aruban then jumped the gun along with Kasper Larsen (Starboard / Loft Sails). Taty Frans jumped straight from his freestyle gear onto his slalom kit, but after a perfect start he made a catastrophic error as he sailed towards the wrong mark after the opening gybe, which cost him dearly as he finished in fifth place.
Heat four saw an incredible six sailors jump the gun and therefore disqualified - gifting Tomas Malina (Fanatic / Simmer) a place in the quarterfinals.
"Timing your start today was very difficult - with the low level of light you don't have much depth perception, and when you combine this with the swell and gusty winds it's extremely difficult." said Michah Buzianis.
In heat eleven Julien Quentel did brilliantly to fight back and claim the final qualifying place after overtaking Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Chris Benz / Dunkerbeck Eyewear), who eventually narrowly missed out in fifth place. Also qualifying from the heat were Ben van der Steen (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic / Different), Bernd Flessner (JP / NeilPryde) - who enjoyed a fantastic day in his final event as he reached the winners' final - and finally Cyril Moussilmani.
In the first semifinal Damien Le Guen (Exocet) pipped his fellow compatriot - Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Loft Sails / Mystic) - to a place in the winners' final. The two sailors were neck-and-neck as they flew down the home straight, but Le Guen did just enough in the end.
Saturday offers the potential for a southwesterly breeze of 16-25 knots, which could create a few waves, with this in mind the wave fleet will meet at 07:00 with the action commencing at 7:30. The freestyle and slalom sailors will meet at 10:00 with the first possible start at 10:30. Don't miss any of the brilliant action by tuning into the PWA live stream at www.pwawordltour.com.
Results after Men's Freestyle Double Elimination - Dedicated to André Paskowski
1 Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra)
2 Steven van Broeckhoven (JP / NeilPryde / Different)
3 Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra)
4 Jose 'Gollito' Estredo (Fanatic / North)
5 Dieter van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne)
6 Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins)
7 Davy Scheffers (Tabou / Gaastra)
7 Anthony Ruenes (Tabou / Gaastra)
9 Amado Vrieswijk (Starboard / Severne)
9 Jacopo Testa (RRD / AL360)
9 Philip Soltysiak (Starboard / Sailworks)
9 Ricardo Campello (JP / NeilPryde / MFC)
Results after Five Eliminations - Men's Slalom
1 Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde)
2 Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde)
3 Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7)
4 Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne)
5 Steve Allen (Starboard / Severne)
6 Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun Sails)
7 Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails)
8 Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails)
9 Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Loft Sails)
10 Alexandre Cousin (Patrik / Loft Sails / Mystic)
Scope the action
For more information on all the entrants, and to keep up to date with every piece of the action, click on www.pwaworldtour.com