Ponta Preta will be forever compared to the legendary conditions it delivered in the pioneering Cabo Verde PWA World Cup back in 2007. Though today’s conditions didn’t exceed, nor match those infamous days, they certainly put up a good fight.
A building westerly ground swell coupled with Ponta Preta’s cross offshore winds provided logo to mast high, perfectly groomed waves for the 32 best wave sailors in the world to open the event’s competition.
Giving a taste of things to come, the first round delivered some stunning performances from the outset. Of note, heat ten, which contained both Josh Angulo (Angulo / MauiSails / Dakine) and the much-publicized return of Francisco Goya (Goya / MFC). Filling out the four-man heat were Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) and Alex Mussolini (Tabou).
With all eyes on Goya’s high profile return to the PWA, the Argentinean certainly didn’t disappoint. Cranking often beyond vertical turns combined with his super smooth top to bottom style, the veteran proved he’s still very much got skills in abundance.
Similarly, Angulo put on his usual display of seemingly effortless off the lip contortions and pinpoint accurate smacks. It was a painful wake-up call for their younger counter parts, Williams and Mussolini, who were force-fed a lesson in wave riding by two greats of the discipline.
The first major upset of round one took many by surprise, as Jason Polakow (JP / NeilPryde) made a huge tactical blunder and failed to notch up a second wave of any magnitude on his score sheet. After pulling off numerous logo high waves in search of one of the mast high monsters, the Australian failed to even secure a mediocre wave ride to add to his score, and ultimately paid a hefty price.
Moving into the second round, Brit Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde) turned his sailing up a notch, picking off some of the biggest waves of the day. His tactical approach paid off, allowing him to links turns all the way through to the inside section of the reef, boosting his wave scores.
One unlikely candidate to fall in round two was American Levi Siver (MFC / Dakine), who looked to be firing on all cylinders during the warm-up and round one. Unfortunately, the imposing Ponta Preta rocks, which can be credited for halting many seemingly certain advances, were to claim yet another victim in Siver.
As the fleet was narrowed down to the final eight, the level of sailing just went sky high. Credit has to be given to Kai Lenny (Naish / Naish) for in part provoking this movement. The teen sensation was just on another level, with those foolish enough to question the grommet’s ability being forced to reconsider their opinions. It should be noted that Lenny was one of the very few attempting 360s in the jaws of the mast high sets.
Departing in the quarters was a slightly hot and cold Scott Mckercher (Starboard / Severne), who could never seem to sustain his usually solid form for an entire heat, Robby Swift, who was unlucky with equipment breakages in the increasingly fickle afternoon wind, Boujmaa Guilloul (Starboard / Severne/ / MFC) who was looking red hot despite getting knocked out and Kai Lenny, who’d already stamped his name firmly on the event.
The final took place under ominous skies and in increasingly weakening wind. The four finalists: Angulo, Goya, Seadi and Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / Gaastra / Dakine /MFC) had to be fully switched on to outwit each other.
Stuck in a paradox, the sailors needed long rides to notch up big scores, but linking turns to inside ran the risk of getting stuck in the super marginal winds close to the shore, making them a sitting ducks ready to be washed onto the rocks.
Experiencing this first hand, an on-form Kevin Pritchard fell victim to the rocks mid-way through the heat. Essentially crushing his hopes of winning the final, this must have been a tough pill to swallow for Pritchard, who was clearly capable of claiming the final as his.
Similarly Francisco Goya, who’d already left most of the professional windsurfing community dumb struck with the ease in which he’d found his way into the final of World Cup despite years off the tour, stumbled on a similar block. When up against the likes of Angulo and Seadi there’s just not room to throw 10 minutes of a 22-minute heat away replacing broken gear.
So the final came down to a familiar two man battle: Angulo vs. Seadi. It may sound bizarre in windsurfing to suggest someone has a home advantage, but the support for Angulo in Cabo Verde is just phenomenal. Competing only a stone’s throw from the beach, the throngs of local supporters make it their business to ensure Angulo can always hear their encouraging cheers and chants throughout a heat.
Shrugging off the one sided local crowd, Seadi got down to business with a varied mix of aerials, slashes and dangerously late gauges, all linked cohesively by his distinctively fluid surf-style approach.
Watching from the beach there was nothing to separate the pair, but a 2-3 split decision from the judging panel ultimately handed the explosive final, and single elimination to Seadi.
With the double elimination scheduled to begin tomorrow (Sunday 15th) in a building swell and similar wind, it could be all change in the ranks. Be sure to follow the action here on pwaworldtour.com starting with the skippers meeting at 10.00am local time (GMT -1).