Originally, the final event of the EFPT 2023 season should have taken place in Leucate. But due to a problem with the permissions, the event had to be cancelled at short notice. But the EFPT crew found a solution and ensured the finals still to happen not in France but in the Netherlands, at the Zeil- and Surfcentrum in Brouwersdam.
So, on October 8 the green light was given to all the 38 registered riders and crew, who hastily travelled up to the freestyle windsurfing mecca in the Netherlands. With a good forecast for October 11 and 13, everything was prepared for the final event to happen.
Straight into the action, the 32 signed up men and 6 women from all over Europe rigged up with the promise of 30 knot+ winds.
MEN’S FLEET SINGLE ELIMINATION
The first to attempt climbing the ladder were local Bodhi Kempen and tour newcomer Kiril Kirilov. Coming all the way from Bulgaria for this event, Kiril impressed on his debut but unfortunately could not match Kempen’s local expertise. Kempen went on to win with Danish Mathias Vingaard. He was then up against Lennart Neubauer, who was eager to defend his leading position in the 2023 European title race. Despite a good heat from Kempen, he lost out to the on-form EFPT tour leader Neubauer.
But Steven Van Broeckhoven could still make an upset to Lennart’s plan. Steven Van Broeckhoven put in the second highest heat score of the day against Sam Esteve with a flurry of double moves to show that he means business. This win over Esteve secured himself a spot in the semi finals.
The other side of the draw saw two riders storm up. Niclas Nebelung and Jacopo Testa were on a roll. Performing in his favourite conditions, Nebelung took out Stefan de Bell and Tim Gerdes to then face Testa in the quarter final. At this point the competition had moved into the famous flat pool, and the gathering crowds got treated to an insane heat. Both riders utilised the flat water to speed up and pop into multiple rotations. A clean Air Funnel Burner 360, Double Burner and Double Air Funnel all made it onto Nebelung’s scorecard, while Testa was opting for all possible Culo variations. By the time the heat was over, both riders had zigzagged across the pool countless times only to be separated by a quarter of a point. It was a diversity fine on the 2022 European Champion’s starboard score that made the difference. Uncharacteristic of him, the Italian crashed a Chachoo which left him with three Culo variations on one tack. Nebelung now made it into the top 4, his highest ever position at a continental EFPT event.
With Neubauer, Van Broeckhoven and Nebelung with a spot in the semi’s, the last one to join them was Yentel Caers, who cruised through the single. The goal for Lennart Neubauer was clear. If he managed to get into the final and Steven Van Broeckhoven wouldn’t, he would be guaranteed the European Championship. Yentel Caers was probably the toughest opponent to do this against though, as the Belgian 2023 World Champion had his eyes on a solid podium spot on the European rankings as well. Caers put down the highest heat score of the event that far, with an Air Funnel Burner, Double Culo and a steezy Air Flaka Shaka amongst other world-class moves. Winning by a whopping 4 points, Neubauer now had a tall order to still get himself onto the top spot for the year.
This wasn’t helped by Van Broeckhoven’s success in the other semi. Taking out a hugely impressive Niclas Nebelung, he made it into an all Belgian final against Caers. Repeating his flow from the semi’s, Caers won the single elimination, in the process helping Neubauer, despite having hindered him in his title aspirations the heat before.
WOMEN’S FLEET SINGLE ELIMINATION
In the women, the opening heats saw Janika Reyers, Maud de Bruijn, Yvet van der Molen and Arrianne Aukes fight it out in the first round. Aukes was dominating and put together a solid score head-speared with an impressive Kono and Shaka. In the other matchup, de Bruijn gained the edge with a Semi-Puneta. It was then between Aukes and Lisa Kloster to fight it out for a spot in the final. Aukes realised the deteriorating wind conditions and swapped her sail size at the start of the heat. Now in the pool, she was able to enjoy the flat water and quickly raked in some good scores. Kloster was struggling to get planing, and by the time she also rigged up, it was already too late to fight back.
Aukes was joined by Maaike Huvermann in the Final. Huvermann won against local up and coming star Maud de Bruijn. Huvermann showed off her competitive expertise and filled her scoresheet with some safe moves in the still quite tricky conditions. Aukes struggled to do the same and had to settle for second in the single elimination. In the runner-up final, Kloster found her groove back after a disappointing semi-final the day before. She took third and was now set for a chance to fight back up in the double elimination.
THE DOUBLE ELIMINATION
With no time to loose, it was straight into the comeback round – the double elimination. All riders were now re-seeded based on their single elimination results and got a chance to fight back up.
After the first rounds, towards the middle of the afternoon, the wind surged from an average of 25 to well over 40 knots in a matter of minutes. With gear flying around the beach and riders rushing to rig down to their 3.6’s and 4.0’s, the excitement was now really building for the finals! The first heat in the crazy conditions was the matchup between Testa and Kempen. Both were struggling to assimilate to the heavy rain and 50 knot gusts, but it was 2022 European Champion Jacopo Testa who managed to tame the conditions to a greater degree, securing himself passage to the battle for fourth.
In what was a re-match of the single elimination semi-final, Testa was up against german powerhouse Niclas Nebelung. The strong winds suited the multiple German Freestyle Battles champion, as he went on to display the highest heat score of the entire event, by breaking into the 41 point total heat score.
Most impressive? His Double Air Culo that caught the crowd and judges off guard. Testa answered with his signature Shove-It Spock into Spock, stylish Kabi’s on both tacks and a Spock Culo, but to no avail. Nebelung proved that beating Testa in the single was not just luck, he is now a serious contender for the top spots at international events. He now formed a real threat to the title aspirations of Neubauer. In their battle for third the wind backed off though. While Lennart Neubauer managed to use the last stronger gusts better and looked nicely powered up in the gust, Nebelung was underpowered and had to settle for 4th. Nebelung said afterwards that he felt extremely accomplished nonetheless as he was now a real contender in the top league.
With this win, Neubauer also accomplished something else. Regardless of how to rest of the event would unfold, he now had secured his maiden Freestyle European Championship title.
With the wind dropping off significantly after the storm front, there were two attempts to complete the next heat between Steven van Broeckhoven and Lennart Neubauer but both attempts got cancelled.
In the Women’s fleet there was still enough wind for a bit of a comeback in the double, with Janika Rayers (Gunsails) climbing up to 4th. In the battle for 2nd, Arianne Aukes managed to beat Lisa Kloster again with a similar situation to the single elimination, where the wind was dropping off and Aukes’ competitive experience helped her gain the edge.
With no more wind to sail the final, Huvermann kept her top spot and solidified her rankings to become the 2023 European Freestyle Champion. And Yentel Caers won the 2023 EFPT Finals thanks to his win in the single elimination.
2023 EFPT Finals Brouwersdam Event Results
|Event result||First name||Last name||Sailsponsor||Boardsponsor||Points|
|17||Piero||Rautnik||Hot Sails Maui||25|
|Event result||First name||Last name||Sailsponsor||Boardsponsor||Points|
|6||Yvet||van der Molen||100|
Live Stream Re-Watch EFPT Final Brouwersdam 2023