With wall to wall sunshine and crystal clear turquoise water providing the perfect playground for a freestyle frenzy, the Caribbean trade wind’s kicked in and continued to build throughout the third day of the PWA Grand Slam. In the end of the day Steven van Broeckhoven and Sarah- Quita Offringa were the winners of the first single elimination on Aruba.
Eager to take advantage of the breeze the PWA crew wasted no time in heading out to sea and putting the sailors into competition sequence. With the gusty wind blowing between 15-20 knots the heats were extended to nine minutes, and it was decided the best three out of six moves in either direction would count toward the sailor’s scores.
A turbulent day of competition saw a number of highly ranked sailors lose out unexpectedly in the early heats, as they struggled to dial into the conditions. Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers fell to the hands of Tilo Eber. Next up robot Russian Yegor Popretinskiy lost out to young Bonaire go-getter Youp Schmit, and in the same heat consistent Canadian, Phil Soltysiak was unable hold his own against the might of Julien Mas.
Mas was charging hard and took the day by storm, destroying his challengers one by one as he worked his way into the top 8 and secured himself 5th place in the event after the single elimination.
In the semi-finals arch rivals Steven Van Broeckhoven and Kiri Thode took to the water. Fuelled by his second place in Bonaire Van Broeckhoven brought a series of outstanding combination moves to the table. Taking advantage of the nine minute heat, he timed each maneuver to perfection securing his way passed a devastated Thode.
On the other side of the heat Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo faced the style master Tonky Frans. Frans fought hard, having just taken down his brother Taty Frans in the previous heat he was firing on all cylinders unleashing his biggest moves. It did little to phase the four times world champion Estredo as he sailed a well-planned out heat granting his pass into the winner’s final.
Van Broeckhoven and Estredo entered the final both hungry for victory. Van Broeckhoven opened with a funnel, which was upstaged by Estredo’s double. The sailors then embarked on a game of one up man-ship as the opening minutes of the heat flew by. Van Broeckhoven separated the pair with an enormous kono, Estredo took that as his cue to unleash his more ferocious moves, landing an incredible spock culo and a burner 900 in quick succession. Both sailors fought tooth and nail, busting out everything in their armor of tricks but ultimately a 3-2 decision from the judges crowned Van Broeckhoven as the winner.
Opening up the women’s heat’s experienced competitors Laure Treboux and Yoli De Brendt pushed ahead of Mio Anayama and Maxime Van Gent with their display of consistent switch stance maneuvers, seeing them make their way quickly into the semi-finals.
On the other side of the elimination Xenia Kessler took down Arrianne Aukes for the first time, having lost out to her four times in Bonaire. Kessler looked to favor the slightly choppier water and the stronger winds of Aruba.
In the semi-finals Treboux quickly disposed of De Brendt displaying a particularly impressive heat, she landed a clean shove-it spock and a high switch kono. Meanwhile Offringa appeared to be in the zone claiming a shaka, and an array of switch maneuvers as she worked her way past Kessler.
The final once again came down to the duo of Treboux and Offringa, with both sailors well aware of each other’s tactics and trade mark moves. Opening up the heat both women struggled to land their initial moves, however as the minutes passed by Offringa relaxed and flew through her routine taking advantage of her home knowledge to land her tricks to perfection. Stylish Treboux fought back with her one handed e-slider and switch kono, but it was too little too late.
Sarah-Quita Offringa: “I feel great, I started the day helping with the commentary on the beach so that really relaxed me and I didn’t worry too much about my heat. My first heat was good but the second heat was great. I sailed really well landing all my switch moves and a shaka, I really enjoyed it. In the final I was quite nervous and I didn’t sail as well as I could, but I still landed some big moves and I won. I am really happy with the result.”
Results Men’s Freestyle Single Elimination
1st Steven Van Broeckhoven (Gaastra / F2)
2nd Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic / North)
3rd Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra)
4th Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra)
Results Freestyle Single Elimination
1st Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / Gaastra / Mystic)
2nd Laure Treboux (Fanatic / North)
3rd Yoli De Brendt (Fanatic / North)
4th Xenia Kessler (JP / NeilPryde)
After the finals, the PWA wasted no time and double elimination was started. It was a battle against the fading conditions as the wind only allowed two heats to be completed. The sailors were released at 6:00 pm. The final day of the freestyle will commence at 9:30 am with the skippers meeting and a first possible start to competition at 10am.
©Text: PWA, C7