In the losers final, the fluid sailing skills of Frank LEWISCH (Gaastra) of Austria proved too much for Mariano ESTIVILL (Arrows) of Argentina in the battle for third place. Yesterday's action was held in 12-18 knot winds, small waves and wall to wall sunshine; ideal for freestyle action.
DE WEERD (Gaastra, Fanatic) was in the opening heat this morning, which kicked off at 10.15 a.m. and immediately set the pace - his extensive repertoire included flakas both ways, spock 540's, forward loops and tweaked out shuv-its. Advancing through heats against Xavier Torres ISACH, Federico LA CROCE (Fanatic), Orjan JENSEN (North) and Frank LEWISCH (Gaastra) there was simply no stopping his smooth style on route to the final.
On the other half of the draw it was the new French sensation Nicholas AKGAZCIYAN, (Neil Pryde) who was the surprise finalist after he won through gripping heats against Raimondo GASPERINI (Fanatic), Paulo IANETTI (Neil Pryde), Christian SAMMER (F2, Arrows) and Mariano ESTIVILL. AKGAZCIYAN lives close by in Luecate France hence being no stranger to these conditions. His list of moves today was packed full of the latest new school freestyle stunts and included switch stance flakas, spock diablos and planning one handed forwards.
The two-quarter finals were the key heats of the day. In the top half of the draw REMKO managed to eliminate Canarian jump specialist Orjan JENSEN while Frank LEWISCH won a tough battle against Spanish hotshot Victor Fernandez LOPEZ (Fanatic). In bottom half of the ladder AKGAZCIYAN took down Austrian freestyle specialist Christian SAMMER whilst Mariano ESTIVILL caused the biggest shock of the day by defeating Norwegian wild flyer Vidar JENSEN.
The semi finals saw DE WEERD and AKGAZCIYAN both advancing comfortably although LEWISCH and ESTIVILL both battled courageously.
The wind dropped down a notch during the six minute final allowing DE WEERD to display his early planning skills and light wind trickery. After nailing a sweet willy skipper 540 on his first run towards the beach, the flying Dutchman managed to gybe, pump onto the plane and pull of the only flaka of the final. AKGAZCIYAN replied with several spock variations but DE WEERD's display was clearly superior and won the favor of the judges.
Remko DE WEERD (Gaastra)
"I am very happy about winning. In the final the conditions were very hard. I was doing flakas both ways in the earlier heats and I think there are not so many people that can do that here. I think that was one of my main advantages today. Most people can only do them one way - if you can show of to the judges you can do moves either way I think it helps!
Nicholas AKGAZCIYAN (Neil Pryde)
1 am very, very pleased to make the final. I am from Luecate and am used to sailing in much stronger winds than today. During the final the wind was very light. I tried my best.
Action continued until late in the afternoon with the double elimination but gusty winds eventually forced competition to be abandoned at 6 p.m. Thursday's skippers meeting has been brought forward to 9 a.m. for with the first possible start scheduled for 9.30. The locals are calling for more Tramontana winds so it looks like we should be in for another day of scintillating freestyle action. As it stands Remko DE WEERD is sitting in pole position but the rest of the fleet will be hungry to fight back if the wind cooperates tomorrow. Watch this space for the latest news as the story unfolds!