Douglas Diaz (Mistral, North) has taken victory in the first double elimination here at the PWA Bonaire freestyle finals.
In a riveting final against hardcore American freestyler Matt Pritchard (Gaastra, AHD) yesterday morning, Diaz managed to pull out all the stops and reverse the Pritchard's run of form from day one. The young gun from Venezuela has been the surprise force here in Bonaire and has once again proved that unknown freestylers can come in and challenge the experienced tour pro's at the highest level. Despite lighter winds than the first day Pritchard was fired up for the battle and sailed with his usual determination but the smooth sailing and technical wizardry of Diaz won the favour of the judges.
I am so happy I can't believe it! I came here expecting to go out in the second round and never dreamed of making the final. Here I am having just beaten Matt Pritchard in the first double elimination…I am stoked!
In the women's competition Colette Guadagnino managed to take her second victory here in Bonaire despite a concerted challenge during the three finals from Karin Jaggi (F2, Arrows) of Switzerland. Colette opened up her repertoire with a clean grubby before launching into a series of spocks, tacks and vulcans. Third and fourth places went to fellow Austrian sailors Tanja Emig (RRD) ahead of Julia Deutch (Naish) respectively.
I am very happy. I am on track for the title. I need to keep up the good work and hopefully I can do it. The wind was a bit light at first but then it picked up so we were all planning. After that it was just fun on the water.
Action then continued with the men's second elimination. Tonki Frans (Gaastra, AHD) eventually came out on top after a heated final against Ricardo Campello (JP, Neil Pryde) of Venezuela. On his home waters Tonki came though heats against Beat Steffan (Mistral, North), Alexis Zaballa (North, Fanatic), Kauli Seadi (Naish boards, Naish sails) and Matt Pritchard on route to the final. Campello meanwhile had overcome challenges from Rich Foster (Fanatic, Naish) Nik Baker (Mistral, North), Robby Swift (JP, Neil Pryde) and Tati Frans (Gaastra, AHD) as part of his campaign to fight back for the title. In front of enthusiastic crowds Tonki pulled off a variety of spectacular moves including one-handed flakas, planning flat water forwards and some impressive tricks to seal the deal in the final. Campello also performed some amazing trickery but lacked the consistency of the local sailor.
It is my first win in a round of PWA competition and it is great that it was in my backyard. I would like to thank the sponsors for making this event possible especially the Maduro and Curiel's Bank.
The losers final was won by Matt Pritchard who defeated Tati Frans in another closely fought battle. Tati had made his way through to the finals through several tough heats including beating Douglas Diaz in the third round.
After two days of insane action the word is already that Bonaire is amongst the best freestyle destinations in the world. Warm knee deep crystal clear water, constant sunshine and steady trades have all won the favour of the sailors here in the Caribbean! The plan for tomorrow is to continue with men's double elimination and another round of women's competition. We still have four more days of competition remaining so it is still too early to make any predictions for the winner of the overall title. As it stands Matt Pritchard is looking favorite but yesterday's comeback from Ricardo Campello could be significant by the end of the week!