Kauli SEADI kicked-off the PWA season with a critical victory in Cabo Verde over local favourite Josh ANGULO and wavesailing legend Jason POLAKOW.
The historic 2007 Cabo Verde event set the bar to an all-time high for PWA wavesailing, so it was a full house once again for the top names in the sport on the island of Sal. A strong forecast for early in the event stayed true and a good swell with mast-high waves reeled down the racetrack at Ponta Preta on day one.
The crew made no delay in getting the single elimination underway, and by sunset the judges had filtered-out four riders for a final that would go ahead on day two.
A trend was also set on the first day for some impressive performances from riders making it through from the qualifying contest.
Dany BRUCH (ESP) and Francisco PORCELLA (ITA) stood out from the trialists on day one with superb wave-reading skill and expertise to knock out some top players from this 32-man limited entry event. The final was completed on day two in slightly smaller surf, and much lighter wind.
Twenty-five year old Brazilian Kauli SEADI thundered into the lead with a skilled display in tricky, light wind conditions, to give an instant return on his new sponsor's investment. During a 40-minute heat, counting the best two waves rides each, the fluky wind truly tested the finalists' fitness and ability to catch waves and not get caught inside on the razor sharp reef.
Jason POLAKOW (AUS) went for it with his aggressive vertical attack, but paid the price for pushing it with a couple of trips to the rocks. POLAKOW's big-wave partner Robby SWIFT (GBR) pressured his team mate hard for third position with a smoother style, but in truth he also struggled in the smaller swell. Josh ANGULO (CPV) was also always going to be a major threat here after his historic victory last season.
"It was a total battle out there,"
ANGULO explained. "I tried to go for a really powerful and vertical attack and look for the shorter rides and big hits on the main peak where I was hanging out.
"Everyone was scratching around to catch the good sets and outdo the other to lock into a decent wave.
"I know it was close and I didn't even look at the scores. It's tough you know.
"You always strive for first and it kind of tastes a little strange to come second, especially after last year."
SEADI chose different tactics to ANGULO to wrap-up the victory, including one spectacular aerial over Swift who was swimming in the impact zone.
"I tried to go for the ones that opened-up into longer blowier sections and to do a mix of turns and connect the ride all the way down the reef,"
said the 2007 World Champion.
As soon as the double elimination got started some big names spewed out by up-and-coming talent.
Levi SIVER (USA) was the first victim of an on-form Jonas CEBALLOS (ESP), and Marcilio BROWNE (BRA), who fully made-up for a stuttering start in the single elimination. Next to fall was Nik BAKER (GBR) who had a tough time in the fading conditions against light wind specialists Thomas TRAVERSA (FRA) and Camille JUBAN (FRA).
Boujmaa GUILLOUL (MAR) was also ejected in that heat despite throwing some outrageous Goytas right onto the rocks. But TRAVERSA scored wave of the day with perfect timing and a flowing rhythmic groove connecting all his turns together.
The remaining second round heats had to wait until day three when the event moved up to the west coast to a spot known as 'Little Ho'okipa'. Twenty-five minute heat duration was set with the best two waves counting and the best two riders advancing at a time.
The action was hot once again and competition was tight for spots in every following heat.
Trialist Kai KATCHADOURIAN (USA), a regular Cabo Verde visitor, really got the chance to show-off his knowledge of the islands breaks. The American survived a tough encounter against Scott MCKERCHER (AUS), John SKYE (GBR) and Ross WILLIAMS (GBR) before getting on a roll to reach the top eight.
Things got serious in the third round when more top names fell by the wayside.
Both 2007 season runner-up Victor FERNANDEZ (ESP), and former World Champion Kevin PRITCHARD (USA) were axed by fiery performances from TRAVERSA and BROWNE - the reigning freestyle World Champ.
TRAVERSA shone brightly with his radical vertical riding style, which that saw him launch tweaked airs and show aggressive gouging of the steep head-to-half mast-high wave faces. And BROWNE pulled a perfect air taka and looks set to fulfil another prophecy to reach the top of the wave sailing rankings just as he has in freestyle windsurfing. But the star of the day had to be Alex MUSSOLINI (ITA) who clocked a 9.0 for a Goyta and big aerial back-to-back on the same ride.
Fading light and dropping breeze brought the day to an end before six agonizing days were spent on hold waiting for new swell and wind. Eventually time just ran out and SEADI breathed a sigh of relief.
"It's the perfect start to the season for me,"
grinned SEADI at event HQ.
"New year, new gear and a win to polish it off.
"I'm especially happy that I can pay my new sponsors back so soon for their faith in me, plus it means a lot to beat someone as talented as Josh in waves of such quality,"
said the Brazilian.
Runner-up ANGULO was instrumental once again in organizing this event in his back yard. "I'm glad we got this event together again. It means everything to me to have riders of this quality here, plus I'm happy for Kauli as he's an exceptional sailor, so I'm just looking forward to seeing the contract signed to have the PWA back in 2009,"
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