Boardseeker catches up with the EFPTs Hanna Poschinger to find out more about the latest events; first up the EFE in the South of France.
EFPT monthly September/ October
Photos: Raffi Cherbedjian
With many thousand miles travelled by car, plane, bus and train the last weeks have been the busiest for the EFPT team in the whole year. We've seen the last two tour stops in Six Fours les Plages, France and the big finale in Weymouth, UK. First things first, we'd like to give you a better insight on the first of these two events, the European Funboard Expression which took place from the 27th through to the 31st October in the South of France.
The European Funboard Expression event, organised by Steve Palier as well as Fred and Natach Bosson has become an institution in the past three years and already staged the European Freestyle Pro Kids Tour. For their fourth edition the team wanted to take it a step further and bring the best professional freestyle windsurfers of Europe to their venue. Working 24/7 throughout the whole year the organisers managed exactly that. The event set up was well worthy of the international competition that they expected and featured freestyle windsurfing, a tow-in contest as well as a social programme that ranged from community dinners to a movie night with a video contest and a RRD fashion show.
36 riders out of 12 nations registered on day one. Some to fight for the crown and the top positions this year, some to experience their first international competition. Amongst the world class sailors getting involved were Davy Scheffers from Holland, Dieter Van der Eyken (Starboard) from Belgium, Adrian Beholz (Sailloft/Fanatic) from Germany, Tonky Frans from Bonaire and Mattia Fabrizi (North/Fanatic) from Italy, just to name a few. Best seeded UK freestyler was Adam Sims (Sailloft) who came to defend his current top 10 overall position. He brought along 17 year old Nic Hibdige (Starboard) and Ben Lee, both from the UK who had their EFPT debut in France.
Immediately after the registration was completed, race director Tom Hartmann sent the fleet out on the water as the storm front was coming, just as ordered, and delivered conditions for 4.7m sails and smaller. A whole single elimination and parts of the double were run on the first day always followed by the camera of the B2B team, who provided the live stream on dailymotion.com. Over 5000 people were following the competition at home via the internet. This made the whole event extremely accessible and interactive. Steve Palier who was the responsible person on site even found the time to do the live commentary and managed to organise interviews in between. He really did a great job and deserves some special acknowledgement for his commitment. As many followers have been national, Steve kept entertaining the French audience in his mother tongue, whilst Adam Sims from the UK helped out in between and after his heats to give the international followers updates on what was going on on the water.
Day two always had a big storm on the cards. With wind speeds of up to 60 knots forecast the council refused authorisation to start the competition and we had to postpone the first possible start from 9.00 am to lunch time, when the wind dropped a tiny bit. The riders had to rig their 4.0's and smaller. Whilst people were still out in their short wetsuits the day before, they now had to unpack their winter ones as the strong winds delivered super cold conditions with a windchill of only a few celsius above zero. The judges were equipped with snowboard jackets and pants, as well as thick sleeping bags and snow goggles due to the strong onshore conditions, which even made the water surface take off at some points. They had a really hard job here and proved themselves in these tough conditions. Some riders were clearly struggling in the nuclear wind and the choppy water, whilst others still showed high class freestyle. As we made our way through the double elimination the performance of some riders should be highlighted: Davy Scheffers sailed through four heats taking out Rick Jendrusch (F2), Anthony Ruenes, Mattia Fabrizi (North/Fanatic) and Adrian Beholz (Sailloft/Fanatic) to be then stopped by Dieter Van der Eyken (Starboard). Dieter was clearly powered up on his small sail and ready to take victory defeating Tonky Frans, who is currently ranked top five in the world, twice! The result for the top five after the finished double were as follows:
1st Dieter Van der Eyken (Starboard)
2nd Tonky Frans
3rd Davy Scheffers
4th Adrian Beholz (Sailloft)
5th Mattia Fabrizi (North/Fanatic)
Dieter Van Der Eyken (Belgium) 1st place:
‘I am really very happy to see that I can beat some top guys like Tonky, especially by defeating him twice, its just incredible! I already knew le Brusc as I have sailed here a few times and this is one of my favorite spots in the Mediterranean, its perfect to train in freestyle. But I was not expecting such strong winds, it has been a long time since I used such small sail. I was on 3.6 overpowered! The organisation was top and especially the live webcast, which is great for the image of the EFPT. The EFE is much more than a competition, it a great appointment and a great showcase for the sport!’
The top UK sailor was Adam Sims (Sailloft) who finished in joint 13th place. Ben Lee and Nic Hibdige (Starboard) made it to a joint 25th place in their first international competition. Well done!
The following days of the EFE in Six Fours delivered nice weather, but unfortunately no wind. Perfectly prepared for that case we had two strong boats to do a tow in qualification that was open to every registered sailor. Due to the mild weather the beach was full with people as 21 riders fought for the 10 places in the final on the next day. As expected the members of team France, Julien Mas and local boy Adrien Bosson (North/Fanatic) made a great impression here, clearly showing that they trained this discipline. In the final though, two rookies made it to the podium and dispatched Julien Mas to the third place. Romain Pinocheau (F2) French freestyle talent convinced with a perfect double funnell and took second, Antoine Albert from New Caledonia even managed to land a switch kono on his first run and almost nailed a skopu on his second try. This was rewarded by the judges with a first place.
For the last day of the event, the new single elimination had already been seeded and the riders of the first heat were prepared to hit the water around 9.00 am. Again le Brusc had a super strong forecast this time with wind coming from the other side, delivering fully offshore conditions. The whole coastline between Marseille and Nice saw a red flag this morning, so did we. The coastguard gave us no authorization to start due to dangerous conditions and recommended to cancel the competition. Like that the freestyle contest came to a sudden end and the ranking stayed the same.
The EFE/EFPT in France convinced with an amazing organisation, great but also challenging conditions for sailing, a superb social programme and a media coverage which was quite unique for the European tour, due to the every day live stream. We are looking forward to next season and to see this tour stop grow even bigger. At this point we would like to thank all the riders who were providing the show, to the whole EFE team and everybody who followed us throughout these exciting days.
Stay tuned for the full write up and some insights about the finale of the EFPT, the Centaur King of the Wind in the UK!
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