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THE GRAN CANARIA PWA GRAND SLAM, 2001

10:37 23rd July 2001 by
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After seven consecutive days of nuclear winds sometimes blowing in excess of
60 knots, conditions finally calmed down here today at the Gran Canaria, PWA
Grand Slam. Sailors arrived at the beach this morning on the penultimate day
of competition and for once the wind was not howling. The flags were only bellowing
gently in the breeze and at last the dust has settled! Breeze in Pozo terms,
still means its blowing 20 knots however, and this morning we managed to finish
the double elimination of the woman’s freestyle. It was then decided to start
the second round of men’s freestyle but the wind eventually died completely
and official competition was abandoned.

The women’s freestyle final was won by Iballa Moreno (Mistral, North) who managed
to fend off a determined challenge from Colette Guadagnino of Venezuela.
Guadagnino had come through to the final after winning three difficult heats
against Swiss sailor Karin Jaggi (F2, Arrows), women’s Overall World Champion
Daida Moreno (Mistral, North) and Antonia Frey (RRD) of Greece. Competing in
15-20 knots of wind is a totally different ball game compared to the survival
conditions we have experienced over the past few days. Suddenly 4.5m sails looked
massive compared to the 2.8m’s and 3.1m’s the girls have been previously using.

Iballa Moreno used smart tactics in the final and kept her routine relatively
simple in order to accumulate as many points as possible. She had noticed Colette
had been attempting more difficult tricks but was struggling to complete the
moves. It was an extremely close battle but in the end the judges decided to
favour the more consistent performance of Moreno.

Half an hour after the women’s final the wind started to play funny games.
Suddenly the huge fans to the rear of the beach started to swing round the opposite
way due to the arrival of winds from the south. In a complete contrast to the
rest of the week we now had glassy conditions with a light wind blowing from
the opposite direction. With a few waves rolling into the bay, several sailors
were even tempted to go surfing. Who would have guessed this scenario could
possible happen after the contrasting wild conditions we have experienced during
the previous week?

The onslaught of ballistic conditions we have endured here during the past week
have taken their toll. Many sailors have been retired from any further competition
due to injury. Scott McKercher (Naish) has been reduced to walking on crutches.
He was forced to drop out after badly twisting his knee in the second round
of the double elimination. Jason Polakow (JP, Neil Pryde) has finished competing.
His ailment is a back injury sustained during his last heat. Andy Wolf (F2,
Arrows) was hit the worst and is in hospital today undergoing surgery on his
knee. The knee was bent the wrong way after a high impact, over rotated landing
on a forward loop. Web Pedrick (AHD, North)is also off the water. He has spent
the last few days with his arm in a sling after tearing the ligaments in his
shoulder whilst attempting to learn push loops in 50 knots! When you are pushing
it to the limits in tough heats in out of control conditions the price can be
extremely high if you make mistakes!

With one day of competition remaining there is still time to complete another
round of men’s and women’s freestyle single elimination. If that happens the
results could change completely. Who knows what the winds will do now? Sailors
have at last had a chance to recharge their batteries and rest aching limbs.
The stakes are still high! The atmosphere is tense and the last day can mean
make or break to those that are still competing!

IBALLA MORENO (MISTRAL, NORTH)
"I am very happy that I won the first double elimination of freestyle.
We might get another round in tomorrow so we will have to see what happens.
I was against Colette in the final. She was sailing really well but trying a
lot of different stuff and falling a lot. I saw that she was falling so I tried
to do the moves that I knew how to do well. I didn’t fall off so much. I am
stoked that I won. I think I was sailing intelligently. I am not used to sailing
like that. The weather has gone funny. Maybe tomorrow we won’t have any wind
at all. Nobody is used to sailing with 4.5m or whatever size sail they were
using today"

COLLETE GUADAGNINO (JP, NEIL PRYDE)
"I had lots of fun out there today. It was not so radical as the last few
days so we it was possible to do some freestyle moves. I saw that the wind had
died off a little bit last night so I was prepared for lighter winds. It was
perfect conditions for freestyle and I was actually able to use my freestyle
board. I was stoked to be in the final. I would like to thank my brother for
the fact I sail the way I do!"