In 1998 the windsurfing world watched eagerly as the introduction of Freestyle onto the PWA World Tour brought a whole new concept in dynamic action and fun.
Since that time Freestyle has grown to become one of the most versatile competition formats in existence. Five years later, in 2003, the PWA is planning to trial a new discipline: Super X!
For years now there have been attempts at obstacle type racing and similar variations on that theme, but now for the first time, we will see a truly professional concept that harnesses all the speed of slalom racing with the control and versatility of the freestyle discipline.
Freestyle gave a very rounded look to the family of PWA competition disciplines, but there was still some areas left unexplored, a radical angle, a gladiatorial arena, which would leave just one man standing at the end. Super X provides that arena.
The PWA, together with major manufacturers, event organisers and the windsurfing press has collaborated to form this new discipline and to bring about its first trial run at the Fuerteventura PWA Freestyle Grand Prix this year. Fuerteventura has always been a fantastic testing ground for new ideas and was instrumental in some of the earliest Freestyle experiments on the tour. This year, Fuerteventura will become windsurfing's Coliseum as the gladiators of the PWA do battle to take victory in this new format.
Competition on a razors edge
Unlike any other form of competition, every aspect of a competitor's ability and equipment is tested. Speed, whilst essential, is not sufficient on it's own. Flamboyance and dexterity will not suffice without a good start. Control and experience will be invaluable duck gibing the marks and getting over a 50cm high obstacle, with 7 other contenders, whilst travelling at around 20knots will be no easy job!
The first one over the finish line will be the winner and will stand out as an all-rounder. He will have proved that he is skilled in all areas of windsurfing techniques. There will be only one winner!
Flexibility and competition at all levels
Super X will provide a very flexible form of competition. By simply resizing / adding / removing jumps or changing or eliminating compulsory manoeuvres, it is possible to create a Super X course for sailors at any level. Whether it be weekend club racers, or a national race series, Super X has the flexibility to provide exciting fun and safety for competitors off all ability ranges. The weekend club racers could have a Super-X, which is figure 8 slalom with jumps over small obstacles or even without obstacles at all.
Rules and recommendations
For this first year in Super X, the PWA has drawn up the following guidelines. These will be further supplemented by formal rules in due course, but in the meantime here are the main points.
The basic format
As already mentioned, the course will represent a traditional downwind slalom course. Outside of the various compulsory moves, there will be no rules. Simply put, who dares wins. As long as a competitor properly attempts the moves specified and is not considered to be deliberately or avoidably dangerous, then they may do whatever it takes to win.
A Super-X course may contain any of the following freestyle manoeuvres.
1. Forward Loop
5. Sail and Body 360 (predominantly for light wind conditions)
6. Upwind 360 (predominantly for light wind conditions)
7. Sail 360 (predominantly for light wind conditions)
The moves to be included will be specified on the course diagram before the start of the round but will be taken from the list above.
To remove any advantage, initially, competitors will be limited to boards that weigh at least 7kg (including fin, dry footstraps and mast base), non cambered sails and rounded, swept back fins that have no sharp edges or corners. These restrictions will ensure that any competitor, with the required ability, will be competitive regardless of their equipment.
As already stated, there will be an element of danger in Super X at the pro level. It is mandatory for all competitors to wear helmets, body and limb protection. Skateboard style head protection and Motor Cross breast and back plates will give competitors the confidence to push themselves to the edge of their abilities.
The Total Option
Super X will offer a competition format that will provide simple and achievable contests at amateur level, through to the ultimate all round challenge for the pros. Top level action for the media and public and with a genuine opportunity for the best man to win.