Seadi Sails Over The Rainbow As Cold Hawaii Goes On Air

A dramatic first day of action in the KIA Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup in Klitmøller saw thrills, spills and a brilliant Brazilian final. As the rain squalls cleared and a perfect evening sun set over this beautiful corner of north-west Jutland, Kauli Seadi held off the strong challenge of his fellow Brazilian, Ricardo Campello, to win the final by the closest of margins. The Klitmøller title is not yet Saedi’s, as the Wave ‘double elimination’ format means the other sailors have a chance to knock him off the top of the podium tomorrow, but Seadi, a former three times Wave champion, is in the boss seat.

Philip ‘The Kid’ Köster, the 16-year-old German prodigy, is perhaps the biggest threat. He knocked out Klaas Voget, the number one seed, in the last 16 and one of his skyscraper double forward loops was the jump of the day. He completed one in every round except the one he lost to Danny Bruch in the quarter-finals, when he fell off after landing in the final seconds of the 12 minute heat. Bruch was beaten by Campello in the semi-final, but went onto beat Kevin Pritchard, the evergreen Mr Consistent, in the loser’s final.

There was plenty of controversy and disputed decisions in the early rounds, with capricious and shifting winds and the final was no exception. Campello charged off the beach and landed a one-handed forward loop straight off his first ramp. Campello, the fifth seed, in his first Wave final, must have been expecting a big comeback from Seadi. He got one.

Seadi, who started with a 4.7 metre sail, replied with a one-handed back loop then made the inspired decision to race into the beach for an equipment change. It had an immediate effect with a cutback in the best wave ride of the final. Campello replied immediately by launching into orbit with an almost perfect double forward loop, - some feat with a 5.4 metre sail. Seadi buried an attempted one-footed and possibly one-handed back loop, but Campello could not put anything strong enough together on the wave riding.

“He did a really good double so I was scared,” Seadi said, “but at the same time I had two good waves,” Seadi said. He won his third title in 2008 and finished second overall last year, but his form has tailed off so far that he was knocked out in his first round in Pozo, Gran Canaria and was only seeded sixth here. “The last few events I was losing badly so I was a bit nervous,” he admitted. “I started with a smaller sail and a straighter board (in the final) to focus on jumps. But it got light so I came in for a 5.4 (metre) sail and a curvier board to concentrate on wave riding.” It worked.

Campello was disappointed his double did not clinch it. “I’m confused because I landed a better front double with a 5.4 – that’s really hard – than in the semi-final and I got the same score,” Campello said, after examining the judges scoresheets.

“It was very close,” Duncan Coombs, the head judge, said. “All five judges gave it to Kauli, but there was just two and half points over the five judges. That’s nothing. Ricardo needed a better second wave, just half a point more on one wave could have been enough.”

The day provided a first test for the live streaming on the internet of the PWA racing and they pulled it off almost as well as Seadi. The event organisers, backed by the Danish Sailing Association and Sport Event Denmark, have been keen to bring events on the water closer to the spectator in the office or their home. It is the biggest problem for all sailing events and live streaming goes a long way towards transforming the sport.

“There’s a lot pressure from the Olympic committee to a lot of sporting bodies, I know this is true of the International Sailing Federation, to clean up their sports from a media point of view,” Rich Page, the PWA tour manager, said. “In some respects we’re ahead of the game.” The need for big winds is always likely to stop Wave windsurfing becoming an Olympic event, but the event is putting Denmark’s progressive bid to host the 2014 sailing world championships on the map.

“People can now watch in the quality of television on the internet, where ten years ago, when we last tried this the technology wasn’t there,” Page said. “This is the first one we’ve had it at and it’s been good. The feedback has been good, we’ve had a lot of people online. Our current No 1 (Victor Fernandez Lopez) was knocked out of a heat and their was a contentious jump as far as Victor was concerned, but I’ve just been talking to our current champion from last year (Josh Angulo), who was watching online from Cape Verde and concurred with the judges.

Page was being demur. The clouds around the judges hut were stormier than ever and both finalists had others to thank for opening their respective sides of the draws. Seadi watched the current tour leader and second seed here, Fernandez Lopez, go out to the unseeded 20-year-old from Guadeloupe, Camille Juban, in his first heat. The top 16 seeds received a bye to the second round and Juban had been pleased just to get through, but his wave riding was the equal of anyone in the competition.

A stunned Fernandez Lopez was not the first or last to remonstrate in high emotion with Duncan Coombs, the PWA head judge, insisting he had landed a back loop for which he had received just 4.5 points from the judges.

“I landed the backloop perfectly, they need to video it and judge better, I’ve been sailing nine years and they’ve done it to me too many times before,” Fernandez Lopez, who won the first event of the tour in Pozo said. “I was sailing good, I like these conditions.”

Marcilio ‘Brawzinho’ Browne, the seventh-seeded Brazilian, was almost as unhappy to go out to Jose Estredo in the same round and less enamoured with the conditions. His second round heat was one of only three heats all day where competitors were judged on two rather than one jump. The wind dropped off halfway through his heat and Browne was left with just one jump. But the award for angriest man of the day went to Jonas Ceballos, the Spanish 14th seed, who, after being knocked out by the British third seed, in the last 16, used particularly colourful language as he stormed away from the phlegmatic Coombs.

He will need to take a leaf out of  the book of the more philosophical Browne and Fernandez Lopex. “I have to come back for the double elimination and put this out of my mind,” Fernandez Lopezs said. Or as Campello put it: “I’m looking forward to sailing him (Seadi) tomorrow.”

Editor’s Notes:

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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