Current world number one PWA freestyler, Antoine Albeau (AHD, Neil Pryde) is back on top after winning the second round of the men's freestyle here at the PWA Gran Canaria 2002 Grand Slam.
In winds blowing a solid 30 knots the big man from France took down Matt Pritchard (AHD, Gaastra) of America in a closely contested final. The women's second elimination saw Daida Moreno (Mistral, North) take her second victory, this time against Venezuelan sailor Colette Guadagnino (JP, Neil Pryde).
The day started badly for yesterday's winner Remko De Weerd (Gaastra, AHD) who missed the first half of his opening heat. The Dingle format (combo of single and double elimination) which is being used here in Gran Canaria meant he was given a second chance but as a result was re-seeded to meet up with Nik Baker (Mistral, North) in third round. This time around Baker took his revenge and advanced after stringing together a scintillating heat leaving De Weerd out of the running.
Albeau meanwhile, advanced through two tough heats against Dioni Guadagnino (JP, Neil Pryde) and Peter Volwater (F2, Arrows) before facing Baker in the quarterfinals. Albeau¹s strength in the blistering 30-knot winds accounted for a major part of his success today and he hung onto his moves whilst many others couldn¹t handle the conditions. After disposing of Baker in a riveting confrontation, Albeau then went on to take down young Jonas Ceballos (Gaastra, Fanatic) of Spain in the semis.
On the other side of the draw Matt Pritchard fought his way to the final after winning heats against Baptiste Gossien (JP, Neil Pryde), John Skye (F2, Arrows), Tonki Frans (Gaastra, AHD) and Konan Lang (Naish sails). Pritchard was in the zone today and nailing nearly every trick in the book.
The final gave the crowds a spectacular display of old and new freestyle moves with both sailors pulling out all the stops to impress the five-man judges panel. Albeau managed to nail a flawless Swayzie and a multitude of tricks, which narrowly gave him the edge over the vigilant challenge of Pritchard. The losers final was won by Conan Lang of Brazil whose repertoire included a switch stance spock giving him the edge over local sailor Jonas Ceballos.
Antoine Albeau I am happy, this morning I did not feel that I was sailing that well. I was on 4.5 most of the day and the wind was pretty constant. I think it was a good final and we gave the crowds some good action so I am pretty happy about that!
There was more disappointment for Josh Stone (JP, Neil Pryde) today who was defeated in the fourth round by Nik Baker. After two rounds he is currently back in fifteenth place and will have to make a miraculous recovery to make it back to a podium placing.
Daida Moreno landed an incredible clew first spock 540 this afternoon on her way to the women's final. Her level of sailing seems to be improving as the competition progresses and who knows what moves she will be nailing by the end of the week!
Today's final was a close battle with Colette Gaudagnino but Moreno's jumping was more varied and more radical. In the women's losers final Karin Jaggi (F2, Arrows) took third slot over Anne Marie Reichman (Naish boards, Naish sails) of Holland.
Daida Moreno The wind was slightly lighter than yesterday so I was on my 3.7 rather than my 3.3. It was a tough final today and I was relieved when I heard the result. I am trying to win for my sister who is in hospital. She is happy for me so far!
The likes of Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Proof, Neil Pryde) Francisco Goya (F2, Fanatic) and Kevin Pritchard (Gaastra, Bic) are all on standby for wave performance. Local reports are giving 60 knots of wind by the weekend so it looks like its time to batten down the hatches. At the moment the branding flags are still readable but if last year is anything to go by, by the end of the weekend they could be reduced to tatters!