“Some people don’t sail with their heads they sail with their balls,” Duncan Coombs, the head judge of the PWA tour, says and it was testosterone time in north west Denmark today as the best wave windsurfers bust out some big tricks in the super sessions at the KIA Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup. It was the perfect way to relax – if you can relax in 35 knots doing a double forward loop – and the riders reflected on what they believe has been one of the best World Cup events they have ever been to. The mixture of innovation and bullet-proof event management has shone a light on the future of the sport and will leave a legacy. A 'mashup' with live streaming combined with social media, provided by Active Institute, a creative Danish company, has been an instant online hit and brought one of the best windsurfing spots to life for fans around the world. All sailing events could learn a lot from what has been done here with a tenth of a competition's usual budget.
Kai Lenny, the 17-year-old Wave prodigy born and bred in Hawaii admitted to travelling to Cold Hawaii with some trepidation, but has been blown away. “It was the best wave riding I’ve had in Europe, bar none and the (live video) takes windsurfing to the next level, because the whole world can watch, this is the future,” Lenny said. “The conditions were a lot better than I’d expected. I’d never been to Klitmøller and I was really stoked when the winds turned side off and we were really wave riding. I would say this is one of the best organised events I’ve ever been to in windsurfing. I didn’t do as good as I would have liked to, but I’m excited to come back here next year and hopefully do a lot better. This has been my favourite place to go to in Europe.”
For Rich Page, the PWA tour manager, it has been a richly rewarding decision to bring the PWA to Denmark for the first time.
“Here we’ve had a convergence of the three key things for an event,” Page said. “Great organisation and onsite infrastructure - a lot of effort has gone into setting it up. Then we’ve had the innovative side, the introduction of the live streaming and interactive coverage. Thirdly, the one wildcard which can never be guaranteed, the weather and conditions, which have been amazing, it’s been a fantastic event.”
For Denmark, Sport Event Denmark and the Danish Sailing Association it is has been another important step in the bid to host the ISAF 2014 World Sailing Championships. “Sport Event Denmark acknowledges the importance of working innovatively, especially with sailing events,” Lars Lundov, Chief executive of Sport Event Denmark, said. “This first PWA tour event went out on live feed on the internet and users from around the world could not only see jumps and wave riding but they could also get involved in commenting and asking questions to the sailors. This is a turning point for sports events made in Denmark. It can only boost the sport and the Danish bid to host the ISAF World Sailing Championships in 2014.”
For the windsurfers, one of the reasons the competition has gone well is that one of their own; Robert “The Sandman” Sand, a Klitmøller local and former PWA tour windsurfer, has been the project manager. “The reason why this event has been so good is that because it’s been run by a windsurfer”, Timo Mullen, the Irish rider said. “He’s an ex-pro, he’s done the tour for ten years and he knows everything the guys like and the guys hate, from the small things like the food's good to things like the rigging tent and the number of helpers who know what’s going on.”
If the sailors have rarely had it so good, fans around the world have never had it so good. Rasmus Johnsen, the online project manager and the head of new media and technology at Active Institute, is the man behind the ‘mashup’ the social media used to share the event. He was the one with the vision and know-how to bring live streaming to the PWA tour for the fist time.
“One of the things when you are watching a world cup in windsurfing is that it is quite difficult to follow,” Johnsen, who is also a windsurfer living in Klitmøller, said. “We wanted to make all the exciting stuff viewable but we wanted to make what was happening understandable and more shareable. They’ve (the PWA) wanted to do it for years and it was my idea to show that there are tools out there to do it live and it doesn’t have to be so expensive. What we have produced here is a model that is scalable. An open source CMS (content management system) is behind the site, Wordpress and the same thing with the live streaming, it’s Bambuser, it’s a Swedish service and everyone can open an account and start live streaming.”
For Victor Fernandez Lopez, who followed a magnificent second place comeback in the World Cup with another second place in the Super Series – thanks to a double forward loop – the live streaming has been a huge addition. “It’s the first time they do live streaming and I love that, all my friends watch and send me emails and my girlfriend could watch me,” he said. “Even my friends who are not windsurfers can watch it and this is something great.”
Fernandez Lopez was just beaten by Ricardo Campello, the fearless Venezuelan and former freestyle world champion, who gains legendary height on his forward double. He had already had the winning jump – a 10-point forward double - from earlier in the twenty minute final involving the best six jumpers from earlier heats. But with ten seconds left and worried that Fernandez Lopez’s was better, Campello launched into space with a forward double which one of the judges gave him a 12 for. It was so high that on landing Campello riding a 4.5 (metre sail) and a 75 litre board with a 21cm single fin, broke his second board of the week on landing.
“It’s great, we needed this event,” Campello said. "It’s super important for the world tour to have an event like this.”
The Kia Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup is just one of many major international sailing events in Denmark in recent years. This summer, Denmark has hosted several major sailing events such as the SAP 505 World Championship and the RS:X World Championships. Also, Denmark is bidding for the ISAF Sailing World Championship 2014, which is the World Championship for all Olympic boat classes and the most important qualification event for the Olympic Games 2016 in Rio. Denmark's official bid for the ISAF Sailing World Championship 2014 is handed in this autumn.
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