With 55 seconds left Victor Fernandez Lopez was riding the wave of the decade, but Kauli Seadi is not a three-time champion for nothing and from nowhere he landed his first and only jump to win the KIA Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup in Klitmøller today. “I was totally freaked out,” Seadi admitted. “I thought I was going to have no jumps then I got that little ramp in the whitewater, so I did a little push loop just to have one jump landed.”
“My strategy for the whole heat was to stay on the outside and ride long waves all the way in and get the most vertical part of the wave. Then I saw it was the last five minutes and I still didn’t have a jump so I started to freak out and changed my gear (from a 4.8 to 4.5 metre sail – Fernandez Lopez did likewise) to have a smaller sail and more control. Then the waves were not coming. I already lost one heat (against Fernandez Lopez) and you know your opponent has come through so many heats and that he is going to do a double forward. But I love this event where you can have more wave riding. When we come to Europe most of the events are always too much jumping and not enough wave riding and in Denmark that’s why they call it Cold Hawaii, because you can actually get some wave riding.”
As Seadi looked over the judging sheets Duncan Coombs, the PWA head judge, told him: “I think you got rewarded for wave riding because a lot of the time people were sneaking through with landed doubles, but finally you proved you could win with good solid wave rides.”
It was the final the first PWA World Cup event in Denmark deserved, underlining Cold Hawaii’s reputation as the best Wave venue in Europe and Danish flair for seamless organisation. With the support of Sport Event Denmark and the Danish Sailing Association this was the first time ever a PWA event was streamed live on the internet and it was a stunning success, with over 15,000 thousand watching the final.
Seadi had been waiting since Tuesday after winning the single eliminator competition and could only watch as Fernandez Lopez, the coming force in this windsurfing class, swept towards him like a hurricane. The wind was 25 knots to start, increasingly onshore and the sea messy, but it sometimes seemed as if it was Fernandez Lopez who was dialing up the conditions and that the waves danced to his tune.
Fernandez Lopez, the second seed, won a narrow first final, landing another perfect double forward loop, but even then Seadi superiority in the wave section, worth twice the points of the jump, was clear. The five judges gave it to Fernandez Lopez four to one, but only by about a point each. Perhaps the deciding moment came on Seadi’s fourth wave. “He picked up one of the biggest set waves, he got one big frontside hit and then when straight into the next frontside hit and went down on it and got engulfed by quite a few tonnes of whitewater,” Coombs said. “If Kauli had nailed that he would have been looking at nine point wave, which is what he made in the second final.”
Seadi, the 27-year-old Brazilian who was the Wave champion in 2005, 2007, 2008 and second last year had been out of form and was only sixth seed here. He was a reluctant jumper and was horribly out of control on his kamikaze double forward loop in the first match against Fernandez Lopez, but is the classiest wave rider left on the tour after Josh Angulo retired after winning the title last year. Seadi did not panic and kept to his strategy of staying upwind and looking for the best waves.
All five judges gave him the grand final, but only after a simple push loop, worth little more than six points, in the last minute. Saedi had already put together two of the toughest wave combinations of the day in the eight or nine (out of ten) category and this time Fernandez Lopez had, for once, seriously wet landing on both his attempted forward doubles. Both were better than Saedi’s last gasp jump, but were not backed up by a second good wave ride by Fernandez Lopez.
Fernandez Lopez had made the tough task of working his way back through the field in the double eliminator look serene. He had left himself the hardest task in the sport after being knocked out in his first round in the single eliminator on Tuesday. It left him needing to win 12 rounds in total and nine today to take the title a feat only achieved once before, by Kevin Pritchard ten years before. Pritchard remembered the feeling well and got a taste of what his opponents had felt then, was his fifth victim today. Fernandez Lopez, the second seed, had already disposed of Klaas Voget, his best friend on the tour and number one seed and Philip Köster, the 16-year-old German prodigy and best jumper in the competition.
Fernandez Lopez, the 26-year-old Spaniard, made use of his second life like a cat, with the best combination of jumps and wave riding the competition had seen. Only the finals were difficult to call. He kept winning, stuffing bananas into his mouth and heading back to the beach for another 14 minute heat. The judge allowed 14 minutes between each heat and 28 before the grand final. It was exhausting work, but adrenalin took over.
“I told you it was almost impossible last night,” Fernandez Lopez joked. “I still don’t believe it, when I get home tonight I will take a sauna and a jacuzzi and let it sink in. I didn’t feel tired, but I think I will feel it tomorrow. He (Seadi) was worried because he didn’t make a jump until the end, but I didn’t know because you can’t see what the other rider has done. I didn’t quite make the double, but I did my best I think I have to really happy, winning in Gran Canaria (in the first round of the World Cup) and coming second here after going out in the second round on Tuesday. I have never had these results before. This morning I put on my headphones and listened to my favourite music – David Guetta and Eminem - then I had a pretty good breakfast and I thought today I have a good chance. I had to go in the water and forget about who I compete against and do my thing.”
It was almost enough for a historic victory. “Maybe he ran out of luck,” Coombs said. “The conditions were hard it was the most onshore we’ve had for the competition. Kauli had him on the waves but Victor had him on the jumps and enough on the waves to win the first time. But he was doing it on quite a small wave and not risking so much whereas Kauli was risking a top turn in a big heavy cross section, so he’s risking everything so you have to reward that more.”
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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