It is David against Goliath, the young king against the new star, The German heavyweight against the French flyweight. Thomas Traversa, who upset the formbook on Wednesday morning, could be forgiven for being intimidated when he meets the German giant of windsurfing, Philip ‘the kid’ Köster, in the super final of the 2012 KIA Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup.
After the way Köster avenged his defeat by Traversa on Wednesday morning, by sweeping him aside in the evening double elimination final in the evening, the only thing that looks like getting in his way is a fickle wind. With the forecast uncertain about there being enough wind to compete on Thursday morning, Saturday could be the most likely finish.
Köster, the Boris Becker of windsurfing, won his second consecutive wave world cup title at 18, after beating Victor Fernandez Lopez, the 2010 world champion and his closest rival, in the semi-final. He could celebrate by winning his second consecutive Cold Hawaii title.
Köster became the youngest ever PWA Wave world champion last year at the age of 17, and already had one hand on the world title after winning the first two of the four event world cup, in Pozo, Gran Canaria and Tenerife. He has won the last five world cup events, but was in the unusual position of fourth, standing up looking at the others on the podium, after losing twice in a day in the single elimination competition on Wednesday morning.
“That was the toughest conditions I have sailed in,” Köster, the German rider raised in the Canary Islands, said of the unfamiliar onshore conditions, made even trickier by the Klitmøller current. “It was so difficult, I couldn’t see where to be on the waves.”
Showing his remarkable maturity and skill for this tender years, he learned quickly. With two waves and one jump being counted by the judges, Köster, the best jumper on the tour, concentrated on finding waves to great effect before logging his jump.
Köster ended the charge of wave riding specialist Kauli Seadi, the 2010 Cold Hawaii champion, beat a fired up Ricardo Campello, who kept forward doubling but lost on waves and then Fernandez Lopez in a nail-biting semi-final.
Traversa was confident after his best ever result on the tour in the morning. The small French town where the cinema was invented had a new star as, in the biggest upset in wave sailing in the last two years, Traversa, the 26-year-old from La Ciotat, near Marseilles dominated Köster with his wave riding in the morning.
Traversa felt it was not a disadvantage to be sat waiting and watching, but Köster built up such a head of steam that he was unstoppable when they met again. Traversa disputed the judges score on a double he felt he had landed, but even had they given him that, he was so outclassed by Köster on the wave section that he was ten points behind overall. Had dusk and a lack of light not intervened Koster would surely have won the super final.
How did he change his strategy? “I don’t have a strategy, I’m not really thinking about it, I don’t know,” a modest and sometimes shy Köster, said. He is a teenager enjoying himself, that is the secret of his thinking, he is not thinking. He is natural, something obvious since he arrived on the tour beating men twice his age.
Traversa has been left with a mountain to climb and a giant force of nature to face. But he has done it once and must believe he can do it again. Lightning can strike in Cold Hawaii.
Editor's notes: The Kia Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup, which runs from Monday September 17 to Sunday September 23, is the third time the world cup event has been staged in Klitmøller.
The single elimination competition is a straight knockout tournament between the 43 riders, who are seeded. Time and wind allowing the world cup has a double elimination format which allows all the riders who were knocked out a second chance to compete in another knockout tournament. They start at the stage they were knocked out in the single elimination round and work their through to face the winner of the single elimination. If there is no time for the double elimination or it is not completed, the winner of the single elimination is the event champion.