He is from the small French town where the cinema was invented and a new star was born in Denmark on Wednesday when Thomas Traversa ambushed the favourites to win the single elimination round of the KIA Cold Hawaii PWA World Cup. In the biggest upset in wave sailing in the last two years, Traversa, the 26-year-old from La Ciotat, near Marseilles, beat the favourite and world champion, Philip Köster, by less than a point in the second semi-final and then defeated the second favourite and his old friend Victor Fernandez Lopez in the final.
The comparatively small and light Traversa thrived in the messy onshore 21-26 knots winds that most said were the toughest they had sailed in. The lighter than usual winds in Klitmøller this year have suited Traversa.
With the minutes ticking away in the 15-minute final, Traversa had registered two strong wave rides, keeping vertical and with big turns, but was still without a jump. But he saw a small ramp and landed a one-handed backloop that was enough to give him another narrow victory of 20.12 to Fernandez Lopez’s 18.5.
“I just tried to stick with my strategy and tried to choose the good waves and not get panicked,” Traversa said. “I knew the wave riding was the most important so I concentrated on that. Then I got the backloop, I was so happy, jumping is my weak point. That’s my best result ever.”
For Köster, who became the youngest ever PWA Wave world champion last year at the age of 17, and already has one hand on the world title after winning the first two of the four event world cup, in Pozo, Gran Canaria and Tenerife, there was the unusual situation of losing twice in day.
Ricardo Campello who was beaten by Köster in last year’s final here, beat him in the single elimination loser’s final. “That was the toughest conditions I have sailed in,” Köster, the German rider raised in the Canary Islands, said. “I’m surprised by Thomas because I’ve never seen him in these conditions. It was so difficult, I couldn’t see where to be on the waves.”
With the double elimination having started at 10.30am, Traversa will wait now to see who wins through to face him in the grand final or if there is not enough time or wind to complete the competition by Sunday, he will be crowned the Cold Hawaii champion.
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.