Paddlers were stoked this morning as they got to SUP alongside legendary surf icon Gerry Lopez on yet another mini downwinder from the Hot Springs to Palapas Ventana. Bonny Fromm, whose been beating the boys all week long, continued her streak and led a tight race with Gerry, crossing the finish line only seconds before him. In the second race, Dave Beddows was after the win and it was clear he was digging super hard to keep up with Gerry but the two of them crossed the finish line at the same time for a first place tie.
Wipeouts were the name of the game for the foil racers who got on the water mid-morning. Two events were run in 30 knots of wind before it was called. Race Director Nils Stolzlechner said, “You know it’s time to stop when the best foilers in the world are saying, ‘please no more racing, we’re scared.'” Gusty does’t even begin to cover it. One minute they’d be booking it full speed, the next they’re in a dead zone. In the first race, Nico Landauer led by at least 20 seconds until he caught a backwind and his kite folded before hot launching back into the air. Losing his placing, it was Joey Pasquali who took the first race win but Nico made a comeback to win the second race. Progressively getting better every day throughout the week, John Von Tesmar was the honorable mention of the day and received best in show.
After foil course racing, slalom riders hit the water. For the Sportsmen slalom, Dave Beddows finished first, Eric Stevens in seconds and Adam Geraldo in third. In the men’s Competitor slalom Mac Skaggs led the way followed by Philip Schooner and Grom Gormley. Slalom wrapped up with the women’s division — gusty winds caused a few wipeouts but Rachel Callahan crossed the finish line first followed by Justi Vonada and Laura Flath.
The day came to a conclusion with a round of freestyle finals. A second finals round will take place on day 5 and be averaged for the all around title. Heats were run in lengthy 15 minute intervals leaving riders exhausted by the end of their time on the water. Freestyle final 1 started with the Strapless men’s heat which consisted of Reed Brady, Freddy Hope, Layne Mallard, Mac Skaggs and John Von Tesmar. Layne landed a series of backroll transitions while Reed rode waves with an aggressive surf style and took a crowd roaring left all the way onto the beach. Mac Skaggs wowed the crowed with some massive strapless toeside airs while Freddy, the youngest and smallest rider of the group landed the biggest strapless air of the heat.
In the women’s Sportsmen Freestyle heat, Penny, Julie and Agnes boosted big. Laura landed the biggest air and Diana Salom rode with an aggressive load and pop style necessary to land her backroll and hooked-in raley.
Next up it was a big air fest for the men’s Sportsmen Freestyle. Dave Beddows went all in on oldschool for some classic deadmans, but it was Philipp Schonger, who coincidentally holds the Woo record for biggest air in La Ventana, made the crowd go wild with his massive airs and close-to-the-beach landings.
The final heat of the day, and also the most progressive, was the men’s Competitive Freestyle final. The judges were looking for amplitude, technicality and smooth landings and Reed Brady, Louis Diego, Jason Blanchard and Grom Gormley delivered. In this heat, Grom was king of the kite loops and landed some massive ones with an assortment of grabs. Louis Diego spun like there was no tomorrow and landed both triple front and triple backrolls. Reed put on the most versatile and technical performance with solid execution of a back mobe, front to blind, a megaloop as well as an old school handlepass. With a giant gust at the end of the heat, the crowd went wild as the athletes aired close to the beach on their final maneuvers to wrap up the day.
Contestants and spectators were ready to rock when BC/DC took the stage later that night at Baja Joe’s for an evening of rock and roll cover commotion.
Photos by Jason Hudson