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THE GRAN CANARIA PWA GRAND SLAM, 2001

10:15 16th July 2001 by
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DAY TWO: JULY 14th. INSANE ACTION: BATTLE HAS COMMENCED!

The Gran Canaria, PWA Grand Slam launched into action today with a full single
elimination of both men’s and women’s balls to the wall, radical freestyle!
France’s Antoine Albeau (AHD, Neil Pryde) and Iballa Moreno (Mistral, North)
from Spain, were both triumphant in their respective divisions.

Albeau, won the men’s final after a thrilling battle with Nik Baker from England.
Albeau’s strength seemed to carry him through much of the day as he wrestled
with spock 540′s, carving 360′s and massive jumps in the nuclear winds. Third
place went to Josh Stone (JP, Neil Pryde) who fended off a strong challenge
from Julian Taboulet (AHD, Neil Pryde) in the losers final.

Pozo resident Iballa Moreno fought her way through to the women’s final after
beating her twin sister Daida (Mistral, North) in the semi’s. Iballa then brushed
off a determined challenge from Antonia Frey (RRD) of Greece to take first blood
on the opening day of battle. Diada Moreno (Mistral, North) had to settle for
third after defeating Collete Guadagnino (JP, Neil Pryde) of Venezuela in the
women’s losers final.

Sailors arrived at the beach this morning and were greeted by screaming winds
but only 1-2 foot waves. Race director Klaus Michael, decided to opt for freestyle
in light of a forecast which is predicting that we will have even stronger winds
over the next few days.

Many are already saying that todays freestyle action is the most radical the
PWA has ever seen! With winds blasting anywhere up to 40 knots most sailors
were forced to use their smallest sails and were rarely fully under control.
For many it was literally a matter of hanging on and hoping for the best. There
was certainly no room for playing it conservative! It all boiled down to survival
of the fittest and those with the balls to go for it!

Hot moves today included worm burners, clew first spocks, table top forwards,
huge push loops and double forwards. Francisco Goya (Fanatic, Arrows) threw
an amazingly high and contorted table top forward off the point which left many
on the beach stunned. Goya has been concentrating his focus on waves however
and eventually went down to Remko De Weerd (Gaastra, AHD) of Holland in the
second round.

Vidar Jensen (North, Drops) pulled of several incredible clew first forwards
alongside his normal array of tantalising jumps. The radical Norwegian made
it all the way through to the semi’s until eventually going down to a dazzling
display from Josh Stone in the quarterfinals.

Albeau’s road to the final included victories over, Web Pedrick (North, AHD),
Kevin Pritchard (Gaastra, BIC) Matt Pritchard (Gaastra, AHD) and finally fellow
French sailor Julian Taboulet in the semi’s. Nik Baker meanwhile had to overcome
tough challenges from young Ricardo Campello (JP, Neil Pryde), Ben Van Der Steen
(Fanatic, North), Richie Foster (Fanatic, Naish) and Josh Stone (JP, Pryde).

The battle between Baker and Richie Foster in the quarters was particularly
close. Foster opened up the heat by screaming through a scintillating spock
540. Baker replied with a powerful wave ride, which produced several backside
airs before a gauging frontside cutback. Both sailors seemed to be matching
each others moves and it all seemed deadlocked with seconds to go. Baker then
produced a scorching clew first spock, which he somehow managed to whip round
and hold onto in the midst of a 40-knot gust.

Baker continued on his roll and beat Stone in an electrifying semi. Meanwhile
Albeau was counteracting the challenge of his fellow countryman Julian Taboulet.
Taboulet was brave enough to bang out some massive table top forwards but his
repertoire failed to match the variation of Albeau.

In the final Baker put out his strongest challenge but failed to hang on to
his clew first spocks. Albeau pulled out all of his aces and nailed a spock
diablo a massive push loop and a clean back loop. It was close but the judges
gave it to Albeau with a 3-2 decision.

This is the first out of nine days of competition. Welcome to the battleground…Pozo
is going off! Winds are expected to build. Sailors are already out of control
on their smallest sails. There is only one word to describe the sailing if it
blows any stronger…SURVIVAL!

ANTOINE ALBEAU (AHD, NEIL PRYDE)
"I am very happy. It was windy, I was on a 4.2m the wind must have been
35-40 knots. I like that sort of strength winds so it was OK for me! Sometimes
it was a bit flat but there were a few waves for some jumps. It was great fun!"

NIK BAKER (MISTRAL, NORTH)
"Its blowing cats and dogs dude! It’s probably 35-40 knots. I was on
a 3.4m pretty powered up. It is really hard doing freestyle in those winds.
I managed to pull a few clew first spocks so I was pretty pleased with that.
I have been using my wave board and wave sail, if I was sailing in a wave heat
I would have been on exactly the same stuff! I was stoked to make the final,
Antoine sailed well he is a big strong lad!"

IBALLA MORENO (MISTRAL, NORTH)
"I was on my 3.4m and pretty overpowered. I don’t have a smaller sail.
I beat Toni in the final today but there is still a long way to go. I won against
my sister, I tried a double loop and am pretty stoked about that! I did not
make it but I tried it and I am happy. I had the balls to try a double, that
was good!"

JOSH STONE (JP, NEIL PRYDE)
"This is the highest wind freestyle we have ever done! It’s going off
man! There has been everything today, some serious rad-ass shit. Its going ballistic,
I think this must be the most radical freestyle of all time"

MATT PRITCHARD (GAASTRA, AHD)
That was one hell of a freestyle day. I think everybody was completely out of
control. We are busting out the moves, sometimes we make them and sometimes
we don’t. It’s blowing 25-40 knots out there…its insane!"

RICH FOSTER (FANATIC, NAISH)
"I loved it out there. I had a good time, they were the windiest heats
I have ever sailed in my life! By the end of the day I was maxed out on a 3.4m.
trying to land a spock in those winds is bloody tough!"

BRIAN TALMA (F2, ARROWS)
"This is the windiest freestyle I have ever seen. The judges wanted to
see tricks, not just jumping. I was on a 4.m but some people were on 3.7m and
even smaller. We just came from Lake Garda which was really light straight into
some real radical stuff"