With some great sailing in Sylt, Dieter van der Eyken secured a 5th place overall in the PWA Freestyle Overall Rankings for 2013, behind Kiri Thode, Gollito Estredo, Steven van Broeckhoven and Tonky Frans. After a 8th place last year, we can only say that Dieter is going up! Read his report below and know how it all went down for him...
About a week ago, the last PWA Freestyle of the year ended in Sylt, Germany in some of the coldest conditions I've ever competed in. Sylt is the biggest and longest event of the year, happening over a total of 10 days of competition and combining 4 disciplines, which makes it always a bit harder to know when exactly you have to sail. The first days, the slalom event was running and the freestylers where on standby, in case the wind picked up enough. Lucky for us, the main focus during those first couple of days was on the slalom, causing us to be released at 3 PM or 4 PM in the afternoon.
Together with Starboard/Severne Sails teammate Amado Vrieswijk, we packed the car to go sailing in the south, at a spot which was supposed to be one of the best on Sylt, and maybe even in Germany, according to the owner of surf school Sudkamp. When we got to the spot, we weren’t disappointed! While the slalom sailors where on their biggest gear racing we had the best session we could imagine: 5.2m² weather, fully powered up on the flattest water you could imagine and nobody else around! It was perfect to do that little bit of extra training just before the contest! The following day, we did exactly the same and even managed to sail on our 4.8m² until dark before going back to the event site.
Thursday and Friday were the days they decided to start the freestyle. With easterly winds, the competition was sailed far out at sea, which made it harder to choose the right sail... But luckily for me, I was in one of the last heats and could see where the rest of the guys where sailing on. I took out my Freek 4.8m² and Flare 91 as most of the guys where on 4.5m² and 4.8m². The combination was perfect: sometimes being a little bit overpowered in the gusts but most of the time nicely powered up during the whole heat. My first heat was against Max Matissek from Austria who improved a lot last year and is always sailing good heats. Unfortunately for him, I had a perfect heat with moves like a pasko, a kabichuchi, a burner and so on. After that, I was against Phil Soltysiak and I sailed another good heat, with maybe my sickest kabichuchi of the event which helped me win the heat and make it in the Top 8.
The next heat was against Gollito Estredo. I knew I had to step it up a little bit if I wanted to win this one and took a little bit more risk, trying to go higher on everything and put my best heat together. The first three minutes of the heat, I was sailing the worst heat I sailed in the whole elimination. But I still managed to produce a really good heat for the last 4 minutes. I knew it was going to be close and I needed one more big move with 15 seconds left on my watch. I was hoping for a good gust, which I got, but just could not get a good enough pop on my spock into culo, causing me to land it very wet... In the end, this made the difference as I lost in a 2-1 decision, losing by only a point.. So, it would all come down to the double elimination.
On Friday, the wind was a lot lighter, forcing me to choose straight away my 5.2m² to be powered up against an on-fire Ricardo Campello, who was sailing better heat after heat. I sailed a perfect heat and although he landed pretty much a shove it into "air"spock right in front of me, I knew I had won before even hearing the result so I sailed in to the beach very fast to have a hot drink and warm up a bit as it was only 6 to 7°C, without taking the wind-chill into account. Next heat I was up against Anthony Ruenes. I sailed a good heat but not really my best one as the wind got really light. In the end, I did enough to advance and sailed to the beach again, hoping that Taty Frans had won against Davy Scheffers, as this would secure my Top 5 position on the overall freestyle rankings! When I realized he did, all the stress was off my shoulders and I sailed just to have fun.
Against Taty Frans, the wind was still light but I found more of a rhythm this time and changed my tactics a bit because of the lighter wind. I sailed really good and scored one of the highest scoring heats of the event, getting 54 points on one judge's sheet! Next heat, I was against Kiri Thode. By that time, I was so cold that I almost couldn’t feel my feet anymore and was just dreaming of getting underneath a boiling shower at this point but I still gave it my best, hoping for a 4th place overall. The wind was light and I was searching for gusts but I put a good heat together. However, just like it happened against Gollito, I knew it would come down to the last move which had to be a high-scoring one. I went for a chacho in the last seconds and landed it a bit wet... I thought I had lost for sure but after hearing I only lost by half a point, I was a bit bummed it was so close. Luckily, this feeling disappeared very fast as Kiri kept on winning heats and finally got the world title after all these year of being so close to it! Big congratulations to him!
For me, 2013 has been a great year but it isn’t over yet! I've reached my goal in the PWA, being ranked in the Top 5 overall. But with one more event to go on the EFPT, the season isn’t completely over yet. To get the overall title on the EFPT will be hard as there are only 100 points to win in this event, which means that Steven van Broeckhoven would have to finish outside of the Top 5 to give me a chance to win the overall title. So the main goal now is to defend my first place ranking from last year and hope I can win it again to finish the season on a really good note but I know this won't be easy!