Sarah-Quita survives emotional rollercoaster to complete La Decima
The final day of the Freestyle at the 2017 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam produced one of the most exciting women's freestyle finals in history as Maaike Huvermann pushed Sarah-Quita Offringa all the way.
Women's : Double Elimination II
Maaike Huvermann (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) successfully saw off the challenge of Oda Johanne (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) in Heat 50 to setup another tie against Sarah-Quita Offringa, who was attempting to win her 10th PWA Freestyle World Championship.
Over the last 5 days Huvermann has grown in confidence with each heat she has sailed and today she gave Offringa, who was understandably nervous prior to the final, a real run for her money.
The two ladies produced quite possibly the best women's freestyle final ever seen with the lead continually changing hands as they traded blows throughout. Huvermann deserves massive credit for the way in which she put the 26-year-old under pressure - landing shuvit spocks, regular konos and most impressively a powerful culo to not give Offringa an inch of breathing space.
However, despite not producing her usual flawless routine, Offringa dug deep as she called upon her champion winning qualities to produce a few moments of magic - with the best being a perfect burner - but the tie still hung in the balance with Huvermann landing a puneta just before the buzzer.
Both women were forced to wait on the beach for the decision, which must have felt like a lifetime, but eventually it was announced that Offringa had held on to win by just 1.2 points and with it, she continues to rewrite the history books as she claims her 10th Freestyle world title - 13th overall.
Sarah-Quita Offringa on sailing under the pressure of trying to capture World Title No.10 and making it a reality,
"It was a really tough week mentally for me. Everybody is quite supportive of me here but also make it sound like it's guaranteed like I'll win. Which isn't the case. I still have to go out and do it.
"I think that built up into more pressure than usual combined with the fact that I could win ten titles. Which is a nice number no? so I guess also some pressure from myself because I did want it pretty bad. So the hardest part was keeping my emotions in check and to sail without thinking too much about the future.
"Normally I want to put down a really good heat but this week I was more focused on sailing good enough to pass the heats. So, I sailed well everyday I think but also quite reserved. Then in the final I could mostly hear cheering for Maaike which is understandable but threw me off guard I guess.
"Anyway I watched her sailing and she sails with much more confidence and has been able to put together some amazing heats! Especially after she injured herself at the beginning of the year… I think it's amazing she came back like that.
"Massive congrats to her, Oda and Arrianne for finishing in the Top 4. These were some of the toughest Fuerte conditions I've competed in and I think we put up a great show."
Huvermann can walk away with her head held high after coming so close to becoming the first person to beat Offringa in a freestyle heat for 9 years and the 19-year-old ends the year as the vice-world champion for the second year in a row and with another year of training under her belt it looks as though she would have a realistic shot at the title.
Oda Johanne completes the podium again after successfully coming back to defeat Arrianne Aukes (Fanatic / NorthSails / Maui Ultra Fins) in the second double elimination today, which means the Norwegian has now finished in the world's top for the last 4 years running.
Meanwhile, Aukes finishes in a solid 4th place ahead of Olya Raskina (JP / NeilPryde), who won 3 consecutive heats to climb up to 5th place for the year after defeating Hanna Poschinger (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg), Clare Elliot (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins) and Birgit Rieger (Flikka).
Slalom Preview Recap
After 5 days of freestyle the world's fastest sailors will take their turn in the windsurfing spotlight for their 4th battle of the year.
Last year Fuerte produced some of the best racing ever seen and by the looks of the forecast the wind machine should continue to do its thing meaning the next 5 days should be as exciting as ever.
Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) heads up the rankings coming into Fuerteventura after a great start to the season which saw him claim a convincing victory in Costa Brava and a 3rd place in Japan.
The 23-time world champion was untouchable here last year as he tamed Fuerte's ferocious winds and choppy waters to claim an emphatic victory and he'll be looking to win his 4th successive event title over the next 5 days.
Reigning world champion - Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Point-7 / Shamal Sunglasses) - and vice-world champion - Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / NorthSails / Chopper Fins) - are currently tied on points in 2nd and 3rd and will be eager not lose any more ground to Albeau - otherwise it would look like a long way back to prevent AA from marching to a 24th world crown.
Iachino looked slightly off the pace in Costa Brava and was delighted to make the podium so it will be interesting to see if he has found the formula to unlock the blistering pace he has shown in the last few seasons.
Ross Williams (Tabou / GA Sails / Mystic / Shamal Sunglasses) has an excellent record here over the last couple of seasons with a 2nd and a 3rd and the Brit comes into Fuerte perfectly poised in 4th place and ready to challenge for the overall podium again.
Williams is usually one of the most consistent sailors and will be hoping to complete a hat-trick of podiums come the end of the event.
Finian Maynard (99NoveNove / Gun Sails) won here in 2012 and he is seeing his hard work over the winter pay dividends already this season.
The 42-year-old shred 10 kilos during the off season and has been rewarded with a 4th place in Japan, while a 13th place in Costa Brava sees him currently sitting in 5th place.
If everything clicks into place then Maynard could well emulate the success which brought him that event title in 2012.
Argentina's Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Severne / Chopper Fins) has been very consistent so far this season with 8th and 11th place finishes and with a little more look things could've been even better.
However, Costa Hoevel didn't enjoy Fuerte last year as he recorded a disappointing 21st place and he'll be keen to put those memories behind him.
Julien Quentel (Patrik / Avanti) went from hero to zero in the blink of the eye as he experienced the highs and lows of racing.
The man from Saint Maarten sailed brilliantly to win in Japan, but then had a bit of a shocker in Costa Brava where he could only muster a 20th place.
Quentel comes into the event 7th in overalls. Can he recapture that form from Japan?
France's Antoine Questel (Starboard / S2Maui) sits in 8th place just ahead of Jordy Vonk (Fanatic / NorthSails) - who is another sailor to have produced in different performances.
The 24-year-old earned his first ever podium in Japan before recording a disappointing 21st in Spain.
The top 10 is currently completed by Germany's Sebastian Kördel (Starboard / GA Sails). Also, keep an eye out for Italy's Andrea Cucchi (Starboard / Point-7), Bonaire's Taty Frans, Israel's Arnon Dagan (RRD / NeilPryde) and France's Pascal Toselli (99NoveNove / Loft Sails / Chopper Fins), who agonisingly missed out on the podium in Costa Brava by just one point.
Of course, there are a whole host of other sailors who are more than capable of breaking into the top 10 and as we have seen already this season there really are no easy heats and almost anyone has the potential to book their place in the winners' final.
Result 2017 Fuerteventura PWA Grand Slam - Women's Freestyle
1st Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins
2nd Maaike Huvermann (Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins)
3rd Oda Johanne Windsurfing(Starboard / Severne / Maui Ultra Fins)