The pre-crack of dawn skippers’ meeting didn’t really pay off on Day 8 of the Mercedes-Benz Windsurf World Cup Sylt as only marginal conditions greeted the competitors left by the time light broke with the main brunt of the storm passing through Sylt during the night. In the end, only a couple of wave heats were able to be completed, but a late flurry of wind provided the crowd on the beach a show from the world’s best Freestylers.
In the first heat of the second round, Jules Denel (JP / NeilPryde) just edged out compatriot Antony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails). Very little separated the two sailors, but Denel was able to connect one aggressive frontside snap to earn 6.12 points to progress. On the b-panel, a double forward by Takuma Sugi (Tabou / GA Sails) proved to be decisive as he dispatched of Miguel Chapuis (JP / NeilPryde). Heat 23 proved to be another tight heat and with not much scoring potential on the waves the difference would be made in the air once again. This time around Marino Gil (Goya Windsurfing) came out on top against Liam Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne Sails), whilst Josep Pons (CS Custom Boards / Point-7) negotiated his way past Graham Ezzy (Tabou / GA Sails).
The torrential rain from the morning was eventually replaced by glorious sunshine in the afternoon, and after multiple breaks, the wind eventually filled in during the early evening to provide the crowd on the beach with a flurry of Freestyle to finish the day, which leaves only the top 8 sailors left standing in the Double Elimination and a world title still on the line. As usual, Sylt provided an extremely tough test for the contortionists of the windsurfing world with a strong inside rip making just getting out tricky, whilst conditions remained unbelievably choppy!
The French duo of Nicolas Akgazciyan (JP / NeilPryde) and Antony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails) both staged the comebacks of the Double Elimination thus far with each of them winning 3 consecutive heats to book their places in Heat 30a - where they will now face each other for a place in the top 6 and beyond. Akgazciyan got the ball rolling by defeating, Lucas Nebelung (JP / NeilPryde) and Ezri Heijmans. before he ended the reign of Amado Vrieswijk (Future Fly / Severne Sails) as the Freestyle World Champion to advance into the top 7.
Vrieswijk, who currently leads the Men’s Slalom, eluded at the start of the event that his focus is now shifting more towards racing, which has paid off handsomely, but having to pack on the extra pounds to be competitive in that discipline ultimately played a deciding factor in his exit today as he struggled in the lighter and patchier winds to fully express himself, whilst the other sailors in the heat were able to plane around happily and fill their scoresheets. Akgazciyan sailed a solid heat to deservedly advance to cap an excellent day for the Frenchman.
Meanwhile, Ruenes, who had earlier dispatched of Gilbert Bimbi and Taty Frans (Future Fly / Point-7), would face teammate - Youp Schmit (Tabou / GA Sails) - in what would turn out to be the closest heat of the day. At one stage just 0.1 of a point separated them, but Ruenes would eventually just edge it by the closest of margins - 1.29 points - in a tie that could’ve gone either way. Dieter Van der Eyken (Severne / Severne Sails) and Sam Esteve (JP / NeilPryde), who were involved in the last heat of the day against - Takuma Sugi (Tabou / GA Sails / Black Project Fins) and Antoine Albert (Goya Windsurfing) - set up a mouthwatering tie in the bottom half of the draw. Van der Eyken linked together an explosive performance to post the highest scoring heat of the day - 110.30 points - whilst Esteve would set the second highest heat of the day with a score of 103.46 points. They will now face off in Heat 30b.
With the light fading and wind forecast for the remaining two days of the event the contest was called off at about 6:45pm. The Wave and Freestyle fleets will meet again at 9am (GMT+2) Sunday morning with the action commencing from 9:30am onwards - if conditions are suitable - whilst the Slalom fleet will meet at 10am with a first possible start at 11am.
Source: PWA World Tour