Thursday, September 15, 2011

SWT Freestyle 2011, Torhamn

The setting


After a whole week of decisions going back and forth the first mobile freestyle comp of the season was to be held in Torhamn, on the Swedish South coast.  The stage was set for a real banger with forecasts above 30 knots, moderate temperatures and perfect blue bird skies all day. With a car packed to the limit with Echos and Starboards me and Mini-Cal were up by dawn to drive the 5 something hours from the West coast, with a World-atlas as our only means of navigation. Good planning is everything, right?

The spot


Arriving at the spot I was blown away, literally. Solid 30-35 knots and I knew it would be a challenge; throughout the course of the whole summer we had only had one or two days that could compare. We were ready to rock it though. The setting is so perfect, with a long fairly shallow beach going far out into this huge bay with small islands acting as wave breakers which allowed for the cleanest chop I have ever seen. It was even perfectly angled for both tacks, which seems a little bit strange in retrospect, but was pretty sick to see on the first run out on my totally lit Echo LE 4.8 and Starboard Flare 88.

The rules


Double elimination was the name of the game, so there was a lot of sailing to be done, which was fine by me as this spot is without a doubt my favorite spot in Sweden. The organizers had done a great job opening this sweet military base camp for us to rig and prepare, and even provided us with a boat to put the judges (read: riders judging) in. The format was simplified PWA rules, with 7 attempts on each side and the best 3 moves on each side counting. Riders would be judged on technical skill, diversity and style. As soon as the first heats were out I could tell that all the riders were liking the rules, as the pressure of having to land everything was off and big moves were thrown much to the spectators delight.

The fun


For myself I was just enjoying the beautiful day, having some of my best heats ever with fast stomped Burners, Konos and various Double moves. Everyone was rocking big though, learning new moves between heats and stepping up levels like never before. Guess that is what Torhamn does to you; it is so perfect for learning all sorts of moves and I was honestly flying from time to time, timing the chop on my Shakas and especially my Konos. Awesome feeling.

The business


When we arrived at the final of the Single elimination with me vs. Niklas Stråhlen the wind was way too strong for 4.8, and I prepared my 4.4 hoping for the best. I ended up having a sweet heat with Burner, Double Puneta, Sw Kono on Starboard, and Shaka, Double Flaka and Spock on Port. I felt like I was on top of my game which as always is a nice feeling. The judges decided for Stråhlen and the Single was finalized.


We were relieved and took a much needed lunch break during which me and Calle slept in the trunk of his car. As the Double elimination started he was in 5th and I was in second, so there was some waiting to be done. Being back on my 4.8 with the wind dropping off slightly I was feeling good and had a blast trying new moves waiting for the next heats.


The day was taking its’ toll on all of us as we moved into the final 3s, and I had a heat against my friend Kelso from my home spot. It went well and I was once more head to head with Niklas for the final. The wind had already gotten pretty light, and as we still were on our 4.8s there was some pumping to be done. I ended up having a banger heat with Double Puneta, Onehanded Funnel Cana and Onehanded Switch-Chachoo Cana on Starboard, and Double Flaka Cana, Shaka, Kono on Port. As the rules of a Double elimination is to win twice we were sent into a super-final, where the winner would take it all.


The wind was painfully light. Luckily I had done a lot of pump training during the light summer days… We had to work hard to get our three moves on each side, but as the red flag went up the score cards read the following moves:

Håkman
Port: Shaka, Double Flaka, Grubby.
Starboard: Switch-Chachoo, Double Puneta, E-slider

Stråhlen
Port: Chachoo, Chachoo 180, Willy Skipper.
Starboard: Sw Kono, E-slider Diablo, Puneta.


Expectations were high as we were called back to the beach for a final decision and a prize giving to follow. Taking third was Kelso after a solid 5 heat streak with his trademark Shakas to top it off. After some drawn out deliberation the top spots were called out, with me in second and Stråhlen in first. Mr Calle finished 9th due to unfortunate circumstances, but oh was he rocking. 

The aftermath


To finish off a perfect day Calle and I checked in at a real classy hotel and partied like rock stars… Or not. But we definitely slept like ones, I passed out on the spot.

Last off I would just like to thank the guys from Torhamn for being awesome hosts once again, and last but not least give a big shout out to our tour organizer Henrik Hagen for the all the work he put into the event.

Håkman out.

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