The women's side of the draw was possibly even more tense and exciting than the mens! An early exit for current champion Daida Moreno left the door open for sister Iballa to take victory in style.
Women’s PWA Top Four:
1st Iballa Moreno
2nd Fiona Wylde
3rd Tiffany Ward
4th Junko Nagoshi
The women’s single elimination started and finished today, with some major upsets along the way. An unfortunate early casualty was Ingrid Larouche the three-time AWT champion, who was attempting to windsurf with an injured ankle. Whilst Ingrid still sailed some great waves really hitting the lip she did not progress and was clearly troubled by the injury, some questioned why Ingrid did not advance, but it was not to be her day. Sarah Hauser, Amanda Beenen, Tatiana Howard and Jessica Crisp all sailed some exceptional heats too, taking the biggest set waves possible and really going for broke. This didn’t always go to plan however with a few visits to the rocks, some broken gear and even a suspected broken neck from Jessica Crisp.
In the final it was Moreno and Wylde who were a step above the other two. After performing exceptionally throughout the day Nagoshi couldn’t seem to find the waves. Ward may have been a little distracted by the fast approaching wedding of her best friend Anne-Marie Reichman (Tiffany actually left the heat a little early and missed her podium spot so she could attend the wedding, luckily it was also help on Ho’okipa beach! Congratulations Anne-Marie!), although she did of course still get some solid waves first! For a while it looked like Fiona could take victory, but it was snapped away by Iballa with a cleanly landed aerial.
With Iballa sitting in a great position and current world champion Daida Moreno taking a surprise early exit in round one it really is all to play for in the women’s world title! It has been incredible to see a women's tour event back in Maui after so many years and really opening up the fleet. Whilst the Maui girls, especially Wylde, Nagoshi and Ward impressed it is also inspiring to see that the more port tack orientated women coming and charging in challenging conditions.
If Amanda Beenen can keep ahead of Steffi Wahl she will take third spot on the podium for 2014. It is Amanda's first time in Maui and before her heat Amanda got some sound advice from the king of windsurfing, Robby Naish.
“I spoke to Robby before my heat and he just said go for it and take the biggest possible waves, wait for the set waves, take the second or third for the set and then just go for it. So that’s what I did."
At just 17 years old Fiona Wylde was already the name to watch on the women’s windsurfing scene for many, but with her performance today Fiona has blown away the judges and most of the windsurfing world, showing she is a rider to watch right now, not in the future.
“Since I started windsurfing when I was I was seven I have looked up to PWA and thought someday maybe I will get the chance to do that. And today gave me that chance. I had nothing to lose; I just went out, sailed and had fun! I made it through a few heats then found myself in the final. I can't believe I made the final, and then finished second; it's really special.
“It makes me respect the tour much more now I know how hard the girls all work and it’s great to just be in a heats with them, especially here in Maui. Thanks to the PWA for giving me the opportunity! It has been lots of fun so far and I would never say no to more contests, so maybe I’ll make it to more tour events. I know it would be really hard I would love to do some more, although I’d need a lot of time to train and get my ability up in other conditions. But I am definitely inspired by these girls!
“I look at Sarah-Quita and think she is probably the best all round female windsurfer; she can pump herself onto a wave from her slalom skills, throw the sail around due to her freestyle. I love that and really look up to riders like her."
MacRae Wylde (Fiona’s father):
“Three years ago Fiona said to me ‘I want to do the PWA before I'm 18* but I want to be competitive when I do it.' And, well... she just has! With Fiona it's never been about watching the other girls, it's just about her wanting to improve her riding, going more vertical and getting better all the time. I’m one very proud father."
*Fiona turns 18 early next year.