Thomas Traversa sent shockwaves through the world windsurfing tour by beating the double world champion, Philip Köster, in the super final of the KIA Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup on Thursday afternoon. In a re-run of David beating Goliath, Traversa, from La Ciotat, the small French town near Marseilles where the cinema was invented, rode the wave to stardom this week, causing the biggest upset in two years on the tour with his electric wave riding.
The light 15-knot westerly breeze favoured the 60kg Traversa. Köster is over 90kg. An extended heat of 25 minutes with only two waves being counted and no jumps also favoured the Frenchman, but Köster is such a competitor that it was not over until after the last wave, which he rode all the way to shore. Traversa held on to win by just 0.87 points, scoring 13.13 to Köster’s 12.26.
Köster, the German-rider born and bred in Gran Canaria, is best known for the spectacular jumping, which has brought him two consecutive world championships at the age of 18. He was unbeaten in two years and had won the last five world cups, including Cold Hawaii, in Klitmöller, Denmark, last year. But he showed on Wednesday, in clinching the second title, that he is formidable on the waves too and had the highest wave score in the super final.
Traversa, who had beaten Köster on Wednesday morning before losing to him that night in earlier heats, set the early pace. He had a big lead after ten minutes with two accomplished wave rides, but Köster is the king of the special moves, even on the waves, and at halfway in the heat a backside aerial 360, during a nice ride, brought him 7.88.
But Traversa improved his second score to 6.38 with a backside aerial and good run and Köster was becalmed as the clock ticked down. He gybed in no wind and seemed to be sinking not surfing but with his last wave, as the clock ran out, Köster found some pressure and ran a wave all the way to the beach. The 4.3 was not enough and Traversa took the title away from him.