5th in the World!

Posted on Posted in Competition, Latest News
Opening ceremony of the Mercedez-Benz Windsurf World Cup Sylt
Opening ceremony of the Mercedez-Benz Windsurf World Cup Sylt

1 drive, 3 flights, and 2 trains is all I needed to get myself and my life packed in a suitcase and board bags to Sylt, Germany. All that effort paid off as I boosted my world ranking to a career high 5th place, and finished the Sylt Windsurf World Cup PWA Grand Slam in 7th place.

My whole journey to Sylt was smooth, which is always a good start to a competition, both because you’re mentally relaxed, and because you actually have your windsurf gear with you!

I arrived 2 days early to get over my jet-lag. The event started fairly slow, as there wasn’t much wind for the first 3 days. However, the world’s best 48 freestyle windsurfers rigged up sails and organized their gear anticipating the solid day 4 forecast.

The windsurf equipment storage tent
The windsurf equipment storage tent

Sylt weather is very unpredictable, so I rigged up everything from 4.0m up to 5.7m sails, and got both my 103L and 93L boards ready. That covers everything from 12 knots average and up.

To give the non-windsurfers an idea of how unpredictable Sylt weather is, I packed everything from flip-flops, board shorts, sunglasses and SPF 60 sun cream, to 4 jackets, 3 wetsuits, rain boots, 2 tuques, winter gloves, and much more!

We woke up to a solid 15-25 knots blowing from the right on Day 4 of the contest. I was sailing on my 4.7m Sailworks Revolution and Starboard Flare 93. We started the first round of the single elimination without major incident on the competition side. However my good friend Rick Jendrush was taken off the beach by ambulance and to the hospital with an injury sustained during his heat.

Phil Soltysiak Backloop in Sylt, Germany
Phil Soltysiak Backloop in Sylt, Germany
Heat Phil Soltysiak vs Maarten Van Ochten
Heat Phil Soltysiak vs Maarten Van Ochten

In the 2nd round (round of 32), I had a tough and experienced opponent from Holland named Maarten Van Ochten. With 3 moves counting out of 6 on each tack my top moves included a Stalled Forward, Backloop and Kono on starboard tack, and Culo, Skopu and Burner on port tack. It was a solid heat and I advanced into the round of 16 with 107.9 points vs 87.2.

My next heat, now in the round of 16, was against freestyle legend and stylish Bonairean Tonky Frans. The conditions on the water were good, so at this point we were judged on 4 moves out of 7 attempts on each tack. This time I managed to collect 134.7 vs Tonky’s 105 points, advancing me into the round of 8! I was stoked as Tonky is a tough competitor to sail against, with many top 3 finishes under his belt. My top scoring moves on starboard tack included Shaka, Backloop, Culo and Kono, and on port tack Shaka, Skopu, Culo and Kono.

Heat Phil Soltysiak vs Tonky Frans
Heat Phil Soltysiak vs Tonky Frans

In the round of 8, the quarter-finals, I was up against Venezuelan Gollito Estredo. Gollito won his 7th world title at the end of this event in Sylt, and on his way to get there he beat me 🙂 Although I did have a good heat scoring 131.5 points, Gollito was on fire, as he often is, and scored 151.6 points.

Those heats left me in the top 8 after the single elimination, officially in 5th position tied with the 4 other riders knocked out in the quarter-finals.

2 days later the wind returned for us to complete the double elimination where everybody has a second chance to advance. That means the riders who finished behind me in the single elimination compete against each other, and the winners move up to compete against me. I of course have a similar opportunity to win and challenge the riders who finished ahead of me.

Phil Soltysiak Shaka on the North Sea mid-heat.
Phil Soltysiak Shaka on the North Sea mid-heat.
Spectators watch the action as the green flag goes up for a freestyle heat at the PWA Sylt Windsurf World Cup
Spectators watch the action as the green flag goes up for a freestyle heat at the PWA Sylt Windsurf World Cup

I had a very tough opponent in the double elimination, as the 2011 World Champion and multiple time European Champion Steven Van Broeckhoven was making a come-back. I managed to put together a solid heat riding my 5.3m Revolution and 103L Flare this time, and I just squeezed out a 1 point victory: 96.5 points vs 95.1. With 3 moves out of 6 my top scoring moves on starboard tack were Backloop, Culo and Kono, while on port tack my top 3 moves were Culo, Shaka and Burner.

I managed to defend my top 8 finish with that win, and now had an opportunity to move up higher into the top 6. My opponent being another Belgian, Yentel Caers, who finishes 2016 3rd in the world rankings. Yentel put together the better heat with 106.5 points vs my 94.6, meaning I had to settle for a 7th place for the event.

2016 PWA World Tour Top 5
2016 PWA World Tour Top 5
Sunset in Sylt, Germany with a pile of windsurf gear on the beach
Sunset in Sylt, Germany with a pile of windsurf gear on the beach

My world ranking moves up to 5th place with my 7th place finish here in Sylt. My combined results from the 3 World Tour stops were 9th in Austria, 5th in Fuerteventura and 7th in Sylt. 5th in the world is my best world ranking, so I’m extremely pleased with the way the year has played out for me.

At the moment I’m hanging out in Belgium for a couple of days with my friend Steven Van Broeckhoven, before heading over to Holland for the last European Tour event of the year which begins on Wednesday. After that I got some family time planned in Poland and Canada, followed by 6 weeks of training in Brazil!

Stay tuned for my next update from the European Freestyle Pro Tour event in Brouwersdam, Holland.