Huge moves, massive crashes and a touch of Bonaire style - this is what round two of the qualifiers had in store last night.
It was the turn of Marco Wedele to open the show, and what an opening. Flying in at over 50km/h, he lined up for a clean funnel, popping the board he instantly caught the rail and the 1,000 strong crowd held their breath as he finally surfaced safely from the knee deep water. However, the board did not. Due to PWA rules, Marco could not use his own custom board and had to borrow Phil Soltysiaks, returning it with the nose ripped off and a big stone buried in the fiberglass was just a sign of things to come.
As the heats passed by it looked as though the conditions were harder, people were struggling to stick moves, other boards became the casualties of the shallow, rocky bottom and then Kiri Thode (Starboard/Gaastra) stepped up to the mark.
Having only tried tow-in three times in his life, Kiri made it look like child's play with a perfectly excited funnel into funnel. Finally, four times freestyle world champion Jose 'Gollito' Estredo (North/Fanatic) entered the water… using his team-mate Max Matissek's 90l board. Max looked on apprehensively whilst Gollito very nearly stuck his trademark air burner 900. A move no one else has yet landed in competition. Unfortunately for Gollito this put the pressure on as the crash at the end put him into fourth place. With only the top three advancing he would have to pull out something special in the second run.
As the second runs passed, the crashes were again big with an impressive one from UK sailor, Max Rowe. A perfect full planning burner, apart from the fact that Max was no where to be seen as his kit sailed off into the darkness without him! Climbing up the rankings it was the turn of Anthony Ruenes who very nearly wowed the crowds with a close air burner 900.
Gollito was back and ready to give it all or nothing. He certainly gave it all, with incredible power, style and height, he whipped through his trademark move and jumped off the board to a roaring crowd. Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard/Hotsails) then came in, bouncing one funnel after another, very nearly making the triple. Soon Kiri did the same, adding the final Bonaireian flavour - a pirouette sail 360 after two big funnels in the zero winds. Gaining a new high score of 35 points, Kiri heads to the final with a shot at the title in his sights.
1st Kiri Thode (Starboard/Gaastra)
2nd Jose 'Gollito' Estredo (North/Fanatic)
3rd Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard/Hotsails)
Be sure to head over to our live ticker Facebook page tonight (www.facebook.com/EFPT1), we will announce our special guest later in the day, but be ready for big action with the likes of Julien Mas and current PWA Freestyle World Champion, Steven Van Broeckhoven competing for the last positions in the final. Furthermore the crowd will see the Belgium Dieter Van deer Eyken, the two Dutch riders Maarten Van Ochten and Davy Scheffers, the UK freestyler Andy 'Bubble' Chambers, Youp Schmit from Bonaire, Loik Spicher from Switzerland, the Canadian and semi-local Philip Soltysiak and Alex Seyss from Austria.
Pics by Martin Reiter