With the weather gods seemingly playing roulette with Sylt’s conditions, the race committee had a tough call to make when deciding which of the three disciplines would brave the ever changing North Sea on competition’s fourth day.
Freestyle was confirmed as the chosen discipline, and after a brief hailstorm, the first round competitors were summoned to compete in the ominous waters off the Sylt coast.
Head high breaking waves, chop from all angles, marginal to howling wind and the mother of all shore breaks provided a challenging backdrop for freestyle’s first outing.
From the outset, it became clear that the rider’s routines were going to limited to the confines of the super tricky conditions. However, this didn’t stop them from putting on a show of epic proportions for the loyal German fans.
The more tactical sailors were opting to start their heats far out to sea, where the onshore wind was strongest and the currents weakest. However, regardless of tactics, at some point all of the sailors had to work their way back towards the beach, where the only way to get planning was with the assistance of the dumping shore break.
After a fairly conservative first round of heats, the higher ranked sailors started to raise their games and in turn the magnitude of their moves. Highlight of the second round was Taty Frans (Starboard, North Sails) versus Antxon Otaegui (JP, NeilPryde, MFC). Otaegui threw down a comprehensive mix of sliding and aerial moves, leaving the flamboyant Frans to counter in his typically gung-ho style. A spirited performance reached its crescendo when Frans opted to attempt a move on the face of a churning monster. The gamble resulted in him being washed all the way to the feet of the on looking crowd, and effectively extinguished any hope of him advancing, despite winning over the spectators.