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GRAN CANARIA PWA GRAND SLAM, DAY 6

00:00 17th August 2004 by
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The 2004 Gran Canaria PWA Super Grand Slam Day 6



The thirst for wave action has been well and truly quenched today in
Pozo. At the 8.30 skippers meeting it was clear that the increasing wind
and pushing tide were going to bring with them the potential for wave
competition. By 9.00 we were on and the aerial antics were in full swing.


The first big name to fall was Antoine Albeau (AHD/Neil Pryde) who was out
sailed by Nik Baker (Mistral/North). For a few minutes in heat number 8
of the first round it looked as though Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Neil Pryde) was
on his way out of the competition too as he crashed his first 3 jumps but
in true terminator style he pulled himself together and landed a couple of
clean back loops and rode some solid waves to advance, much to the delight
of the local crowd that packed the sea front here in Pozo.


Midway through the second round the locals were about to be disappointed
as local hotshot Jonas Ceballos (Fanatic/Gaastra) lost to an on form John
Skye (F2/Arrows) who landed a perfect dry ankle double forward in the
heat. Jonas was gutted and John was understandably ecstatic!


As we progressed there were two sailors really standing out from the usual
crop of wave specialists. The first was Alex Mussolini (JP/Neil Pryde)
from Spain who was sailing really well landing some awesome push loops and
tabletop forwards. Alex has been spending a lot of time in the Canaries
and it showed. The other sailor looking good was Ben Proffitt (JP/Neil
Pryde) who competing in his first ever Pozo wave event pulled of a number
of Takas and clean back loops to advance all the way to the quarterfinals.


Josh Angulo has been out practicing at every available opportunity this
week and was eager to make it to the final but took a shock exit in the
third round, losing to that man Mussolini! Josh will now have to go all
out in the double elimination if he has any chance of winning here in Pozo.


The quarterfinals saw V Jensen (North Sails) v Proffitt, Baker v
Dunkerbeck and Fernandez (Fanatic) v McKercher (Starboard) and Kevin
Pritchard (Starboard/Gaastra) v Mussolini. Jensen was on form and
Proffitt just couldn’t answer back. Baker looked good but also a touch
over powered, which caused him to drop a few big jumps, Dunkerbeck on the
other hand, was looking powerful and did enough to advance to the semi
finals. Fernandez a top tip to make it to the final struggled a bit and
failed to find any big ramps to launch off. Normally one of the best
jumpers in Pozo but today wasn’t his day. His opponent McKercher was using
his radical carving wave riding to full effect and bagged a couple of
sweet waves that connected all the way into the beach, throwing buckets of
spray at every opportunity to beat Fernandez. Pritchard busted out some
big push loops and looked good but he didn’t bet on Mussolini’s wave ride
that saw him land a push loop and a forward loop off the lip on the same
wave. Mussolini advanced leaving Pritchard with some work to do in the
double elimination.


The Semi of Vidar v Dunkerbeck was a real local’s brawl. Both sailors are
past champions here in Pozo and this heat was always going to be
close. Back loops, table top forwards, push loops, double forwards, you
name it these guys were going at it like their life’s depended on it. In
the end it was Vidar who pulled out ahead and took the heat win from the
mighty Dunkerbeck.


McKercher was on a role and his semi final against Mussolini was an Aussie
wave riding master class, even in the small choppy swell McKercher seemed
able to pick out the premium sets and ride them with speed, power and
style, sliding his tail out at every opportunity. Mussolini went for it
but the experience of McKercher shone through.


The Ladies fleet saw action from early afternoon and they went all out in
the gale force winds. Loops, Table Tops, Push Loops are now a standard
feature in the ladies fleet. Each competitor looked motivated to go all
the way to the final. Some heats were scoring as much as the men. Girl
power to the extreme. The quarterfinals were full of talent, Silvia Orozco
(JP/Neil Pryde) v Iballa Moreno (Mistral/North Sails), Anna Blanch v Karin
Jaggi (F2/Arrows) and Anne-Marie Reichmann (Naish/Naish Sails) v Nayra
Alonso (Fanatic) and Ania Ostrowska v Daida Moreno (Mistral/North
Sails). The victors were Iballa Moreno, Karin Jaggi, Nayra Alonso and
Daida Moreno. The Moreno’s were looking particularly at home in the
radical conditions. They learnt to windsurf in Pozo so are more than a
little used to the strong winds and choppy water. Busting out clean one
handed back loops and tweaked table top forwards they busted down the
doors to the final, which left Jaggi and Alonso to fight it out in the
losers final. Nayra has been basing herself in Pozo for the last few
months and it showed with nice jumps and some slashy riding. She couldn’t
quite beat the experience and power of Jaggi though who took the victory
in the losers final.


The Moreno v Moreno final was amazing. Both girls went out there to show
the judges and the crowds what they were capable of. What a display it
was, double forwards, back loops and wave riding aerials were packed into
the 8-minute heat. They went off. In the end it was Daida’s bigger jumps
that stole the show and saw her take victory over her sister. Going for 2
double forwards and a host of other aerial insanity she showed that female
windsurfing is alive and kicking.


So the men’s finals went as follows. Loser’s final Dunkerbeck v Mussolini
and winner’s final, Jensen v McKercher. Mussolini landed some big back
loops but Dunkerbeck went higher and found some longer and bigger waves to
ride. Mussolini was no doubt just overjoyed to be in a final and losing
to Dunkerbeck a 13 times world champion is nothing to be ashamed
about. In fact give him a little while to hone his tactics and Mussolini
could very well be a world champion himself.


Somebody who has been hungry for a wave world title for a long time is
Scott McKercher. Hailing from wave blessed Western Australia Scott would
be a major threat in a down the line contest but until now hasn’t managed
to win in the onshore conditions here in Pozo. Today was to be his day to
shine. Using his own brand of wave riding style he sliced and diced his
way through the onshore waves getting more turns on the waves than anybody
else. His jumping too was full on; landing a big one handed back loop mid
way through the heat he was showing great promise. Vidar was jumping
really well too and looked to be going that bit higher than Scott but just
as the crowds thought he was going into over drive he snapped his mast
during a double forward attempt that left him a long way out to sea and
swimming. Lighting quick reactions from his brother Orjan (North Sails)
saw a fresh set of kit on its way to him in less than 2 minutes. Those 2
minutes saw Scott land another back loop and ride a good wave. Even a big
Crazy Pete jump from Vidar couldn’t make up for the lost time and in the
end it was an emotional McKercher who stood proud in 1st place on the podium.


With barely enough time to say tabletop-forward-loop the double
elimination kicked off and as I write this it is in mid-flow. Tomorrow
will see the climax of the double. Can locals Jonas Ceballos and Victor
Fernandez come back to challenge today’s finalists and can Angulo fight
his way to the top?

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