PWA World Tour: go for it, dudes

The best windsurfers in the world are gearing up for the 2011 Professional Windsurfing Association World Tour. The training period is over and it's time to get serious. The windsurfing season will open in Mui Ne, in South Eastern Vietnam, from February 25th to March 5th.

The majority of tour stops will be streamed live via on the PWA World Tour website. "The conditions can range from 7 knots and relatively flat water, up to 35 knots and choppy conditions, much like Pozo. The wind, which normally blows from a northeasterly direction (cross onshore) generally kicks in by morning, building to a steady force 4 by midday, then turning side shore and typically building to upwards of a force 5", says Chris Pressler.

"The atmosphere in Vietnam is great. Bars and restaurants are next to the beach, where you can find shade under the palm trees. The prices are low and you can discover a new culture there. I’ve visited Vietnam eight times and each time I had nice conditions, using sails from 6.1m to 8.1m in slalom and freeriding and 4.2m up to 5.9m in freestyle."

In the men’s slalom fleet, it goes without saying that last year’s podium finishers; Antoine Albeau, Bjorn Dunkerbeck and Cyril Moussilmani will be eager to state their intentions from the outset, and fend off any potential attacks from what’s arguably the strongest racing lineup we’ve seen in recent years.

New to the mix, and a potential threat to the big players is Dutchman, Pieter Bijl. Bijl’s been out the game for last couple of seasons, but rumors circulating around JP’s Maui base suggest he’s been working tirelessly on his technique and is more determined than ever to build on his sixth finish overall in 2007.

There’s also the likes of Finian Maynard, who finished second overall in 2009, and was unlucky not to secure a podium finish last year, and Micah Buzianis who’ll be looking to capitalize on a steady run of fourth place overall finishes.

When the freestylers take to the water, it’s going to be the guys that are happy to throw thrown down in the chop and rolling swells that the prevailing side, to side onshore wind generates. Obviously Jose Estredo, who’s gunning for his fifth overall World Title, will be the man to beat, but it gets very difficult to call from there.

The Bonaire crew of Taty Frans, Kiri Thode and Tonky Frans are well renowned for their powerful repertoires which will be well suited to the Vietnamese conditions, likewise Belgium’s freestyle sensei Steven Van Broeckhoven is always a strong contender, and very much peaking at the right time to do some serious damage over the coming year.