This year’s Gran Canaria Wind & Waves Festival marks the 30th anniversary of PWA World Cups in Pozo Izquierdo and by the look of the forecast it’s going to be one you are not going to forget about for a long time with trademark howling winds and waves predicted for the duration of the event, which kicks off tomorrow and runs until the 21st July.
Pozo Izquierdo is internationally famed in the windsurfing world due to its unrelenting wind and steep waves. The combination of these two factors creates the perfect playground for the world’s most extreme sailors to defy gravity and perform the biggest stunts on the planet. The local effects mean that even the slightest breeze can soon be accelerated to nuclear strength, with the wind peaking at around 50-60 knots and based on the current forecast that should see the guys and girls reaching for their smallest equipment.
Iballa Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) may hold the early-season title race lead after claiming a stylish victory during the Morocco PWA World Cup in April, but it will be her sister Daida Moreno (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins), who starts as the favourite for the second event of the year with 16 victories and a 2nd place in the last 17 years – a quite remarkable record.
However, it is Iballa who has come out on top overall in recent years, having won the world title for the last 4 years and she currently leads this year’s tour, so Daida will know it is imperative to win here if she wants to reclaim the women’s wave world title for the first time since 2013.
The twins have dominated the women’s scene for the last couple of decades, and while they show no signs of slowing down, there are now more women than ever lining up to take their shot with 24 girls currently registered for the 2018 Gran Canaria Wind & Waves Festival, which for the first time in windsurfing history will see equal prize money for both the men’s and women’s fleets.
It is likely the Moreno twins’ biggest threat will come from either Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins), who currently occupies second place in the overall rankings, or Lina Erpenstein (Severne / Severne Sails), who earned her first podium here in 2017 but the German has been studying, and training when possible, so it will be interesting to see if the 21-year-old can bring that same level with less practice.
Meanwhile, Offringa has the experience of beating the Moreno twins, but it would a huge ask to beat them both on home waters. However, the 14-time world champion has been spending more time in Pozo Izquierdo in order to try and become more comfortable in the extreme conditions and can never be ruled out.
Statistically speaking it is almost impossible to look past either current world champion – Philip Köster (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) or former 2-time world champion – Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / Duotone / Shamal Sunglasses) – when it comes to looking at the eventual winner of the 2018 GCWWF.
Between them, they have shared the event titles since 2006 – with Fernandez winning 6 events (2006, 07, 08, 10, 14, 16) and Köster winning 5 (2009, 11, 12, 15, 17) (no result in 2013) – while Fernandez boasts an incredible record of not finishing outside the top 2 since then.
Can Anyone Crack Them?
As you may have seen in Ben Proffitt’s (Simmer / Simmer Sails) training diaries the level seems to have gone through the roof again and therefore there are numerous other candidates – especially since the men’s fleet has been extended again to the top 48.
Jaeger Stone (Starboard / Severne / SWOX / Shamal Sunglasses) certainly didn’t perform badly last season, but after being on the wrong side of a few close calls the Australian finished outside the overall top 5 for the first time since 2015 – 7th – and will now look to bounce back.
You can stay up to date with all the latest developments from Gran Canaria— including the live stream, elimination ladders, entry list, images and the live ticker at www.pwaworldtour.com.
Words by Chris Yates, PWA.