13th at PWA Fuerte

Posted on Posted in Competition, Latest News

After 5 days of competition and a full double elimination I managed to finish the PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam in 13th place.

Soltysiak Shaka coming into the beach. Photo by PWA/Carter
Shaka coming into the beach. Photo by PWA/Carter

This past week Fuerte delivered some of the best conditions we’ve ever had. The wind was blowing over 30 knots side to side-off. The tides were extreme, flooding the lagoon and even the beach where the spectators and judges were set up. When the tide went down the small swell built up perfect ramps creating a freestyle playground ideal for the international fleet of 48 riders.

Phil Soltysiak looping on the way out. Photo by PWA/Carter.
Looping on the way out. Photo by PWA/Carter.

We completed a full double elimination, meaning nobody is out of the competition until they lose first in the single elimination, and again in the double elimination. The head judge also decided to run man on man heats for the majority of the contest, which I found much simpler and more exciting to watch. We had 7 minute heats, with the best 4 moves out of 7 attempts counting in each direction. I was riding my 4.0m and 4.2m Sailworks Revolutions with my Flare 93 in every heat.

My contest began on day 1 when I was seeded with a bye into the 2nd round along with the other top 16 seeds. The bottom 32 battled against each other for an opportunity to compete against us. My competitor was going to be the winner between Adam Sims (UK) and Nicholas Nebelung (Germany). Nicholas was the better sailor and made it through to face me.

Soltysiak vs Nebelung
Soltysiak vs Nebelung

I went into the heat slightly nervous as it was my first heat of the event. I crashed my first attempt at a move, which didn’t help my nerves. I saw Nicholas land a couple of good moves like an Air Funell into Funnell and Burner 360, but I responded with a planning Skopu, after which I was immediately rewarded with a Pushloop ramp. I was stoked after combining those 2 moves just 10 seconds apart, and the rest of my heat went well. I managed to win 141 points to 110.

Although I won the heat, my nerves didn’t subside as my next heat was against Jacopo Testa, who was hot off a victory at the European Freestyle Pro Tour stop in Lanzarote 2 weeks earlier where he defeated big names like Steven Van Broeckhoven, Yentel Caers and Tonky Frans.

In 2016 I advanced over Jacopo, but it was not to be this summer. I started off weak, once again with a crash at the beginning, and never really found the form I needed against the Italian. I put together some good moves including a Spock Culo, Push Loop and Table Top Forward, but Jacopo’s solid sailing racked in too many points leaving me out of the single elimination; 118 to 147 points.

Soltysiak vs Testa
Soltysiak vs Testa

I didn’t have to compete on Day 2, so after a day of staying out of the sun and watching the action from my hotel room balcony at the Melia Gorriones, I went out for an evening session to keep fresh but not tire myself for the following days. Once again with the low tide the conditions were epic, and it was all about the jumps.

Day 3 we were already into the 2nd round of the double elimination, and the winners of the first 2 rounds were coming up against riders like me who lost in the 3rd round of the single. My opponent turned out to be German once again; Adrian Beholz. This time the wind was howling even more, and after watching many riders crash the majority of their moves in their heats, I decided to start off by landing 4 easier moves on each tack before taking any more chance. Adrian was sailing well against me, I saw him stick a few moves like a T-Bone and Pushloop, but luckily all my moves were clean and that really paid off as I advanced with 135 points to 125.

Soltysiak vs Beholz
Soltysiak vs Beholz

On Day 4 my next heat was up, and this time against the Bonairean freestyle legend Tonky Frans. By now the wind had shifted more offshore, and there were not as many ramps as before. Tonky is particularly good at jumping, so I thought the change in conditions was to my advantage. As the heat went on I saw Tonky perform jumps off nothing, I swear there were no waves! He landed Pushloops, Air Chachoos and other air moves. I didn’t find one ramp, and neither did I land any of the moves I was training for the 2 weeks leading up to the event. Tonky deservedly advanced as he sailed one of the best heats of the day, and I was left knocked out of the competition losing I lost 160 points to 134 That left me in finishing the event in =13th position. I was also left a bit upset with myself for not sailing up to my potential in my last heat.

Soltysiak vs Frans
Soltysiak vs Frans

I can’t say I’m stoked to take 13th, but I know that with the level of windsurfing all the riders bring to these PWA events anything can happen. There are riders in last place that I know on a good day can easily finish in the top 10. On the bright side having results that you’re not 100% satisfied with can only mean one thing; I gotta windsurf more! 🙂

Coming in after a heat. Photo by PWA/John Carter
Coming in after a heat. Photo by PWA/John Carter

And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I just arrived in Hood River, Oregon, where I’m spending 2 days before heading down to San Francisco for the US Windsurfing Nationals. Last year I managed to squeeze out a slalom victory at the US Nationals which were held in Texas, so the pressure is on to defend that. It won’t be easy. My goals for this event are to win the freestyle and to finish top 3 in the slalom. Time to make it happen!