Conditions: Wind between 32 – 41 knots! Averaging 35, cross onshore from the right. Boom.
MEN’S SEMI-FINAL 01 (Started 09.30 local time)
M Chabloz / A Racca / A Pastor / V Rodriguez
So windy! Too windy for freestyle? Maxime landed a mobe 5 on a 7m. Guess not. Class. He rides the Levante winds a lot!
These are riders having to adapt so much. Valentin Rodriguez stuck a back mobe on his 7m, impressing the judges.
Even getting upwind today was an art. So much strength needed for passes and it looked like the whole ocean was moving sideways.
Chabloz went round a front roll, looked for the pass to blind but impossible.
Pastor kite loop!! Big… but not epic. Looking ideal to pull these today though… and he travelled so far!
Rodriguez – 315, nicely powered and good kite position on his six metre. The 16 year-old was showing lots of grit and superb adaptability.
Chabloz: 313. These guys are making it work for freestyle, somehow!
Head of GKA Jorgen Vogt entered the media room and exclaimed, “Simply perfect!” (He loves strong winds, and he loves big airs, lol).
Despite the harsh conditions, after three tricks there were more consistent heat scores logged than yesterday. Racca was struggling at that stage though, with only a raley landed, but he’s probably not so used to such strong conditions at home in Mexico.
Rodriguez led after 3 tricks over Pastor. The Colombian had 3 from 3. First crash for him on 4th trick, stacking a front mobe.
In fact all riders crashed on 4th tricks except Racca, who landed a big kite loop! He got a 3.5 for that; a mid range score, but useful.
Maxime Chabloz opted go down the kite loop route on his 5th trick, but we’ll need to see some rotations thrown with these loops in order for the judges to hand out higher scores.
Rodriguez was still leading Pastor after 4 tricks.
Rodriguez’ second attempt on slim 5… landed! 5.87 in the bag.
Racca was up soon after with a nice kite low 315.
Chabloz’ slim 5 earned 5.4 and he overtook Pastor with one trick to go.
Rodriguez decided it was kite loop time on his last trick, but it made no difference. The heat was done and dusted with him having led throughout.
Result: Rodriguez 19.97 / Chabloz 18.86 – those two through to the finals! Pastor and Racca 12.87 and 9.5 respectively.
See the tricks score card: click here.
10.15am Quarter final 2 abandoned while conditions settle and livestream crew reassembled after trashed gear!
11.50am – Men’s Semi Final 02 kicked off.
L Whaley / C Mario / G Coccoluto / S Teixeira
Carlos Mario improved massively in his quarter final yesterday after probably his worst first heat start in history in round two. He was managing these mega difficult conditions well – 6.43 for a slim and 7.67 for a heart attack. No compromise freestyle for the champion! He butt checked a front blind, getting just 4 points but completed a clean hat trick of moves in his first three attempts, giving 18.1 total. He was cooking nicely.
Liam Whaley was lying in second after three tricks thanks to nailing a front blind mobe that scored 6.97, and 5.77 for a back mobe. His second trick was a crash but he had 12.74 after 3 tricks.
Gianmaria Coccoluto’s trick list included a front blind mobe and a back mobe and then a crash for the Italian, but he was holding ground in third at the halfway stage; ahead of Brazilian Teixiera who crashed his third and then his fourth trick.
We hadn’t seen any kite loops after three tricks – these riders were sticking hard to dedicated freestyle tricks. Would the second half of the heat open up?
Right on cue, Liam Whaley, King of the Air podium finisher launched the first kite loop combination seen in either semi-final – 6.57 score – highest scoring kite loop seen yet over the last two days.
Bebe knocked out a hinterberger 5 – he was freestyling as if it wasn’t howling!
A front to blind from Set on his fifth trick was only his third scoring trick. It was looking bleak for the Brazilian who has claimed several tour podiums in the last few seasons.
What a clever trick from Coccoluto – a crow mobe 5 which looked very good off a kicker on the inside. Very difficult, especially in these conditions, and got a very valuable 6.67. Liam Whaley answered back with his own, getting 5.8 which propelled him from third to first, but Carlos was still to take his fifth trick…
It was a three way fight for the top two.
Carlos Mario was riding a 7 metre RPM. Have you ever seen him ride such a small kite? A 315 for his fifth trick evened out the attempts and he was back in front. A 3.5 score for that 315 moved him back in front; a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
Remember: we’re looking for 4 highest scoring tricks from 7 attempts today.
Would you want to unhook in these conditions? Erm… well, you’d end up a looong way downwind for sure. These guys were using their strength well.
Coccoluto’s sixth trick was an impressive hinterberger frontside 5. He stayed in third though after one more trick than Liam, but Liam then crashed! How costly would that be?
Set Teixeira struggled this heat and managed just a back roll on his last attempt, and was confirmed in fourth with the other riders still to take their last trick.
Coccoluto banged out a backmobe 5 with a very promising score of 6.47, which would put Liam under pressure to qualify for the final. Coccoluto moved into second and then came Whaley… who only landed a back mobe, which wasn’t enough!
Carlos Mario had won the heat even without his seventh and final trick attempt. So he threw a crowd pleaser – a mega loop! Good job. He landed all 7 of his tricks; ominous for everyone else given the conditions!
Result: Mario 27.83 / Coccoluto: 25.94 – they go through to join Valentin Rodriguez and Maxime Chabloz in the final. Liam Whaley would be gutted to not to have made it, but the Spaniard didn’t manage to land some tricks that he normally does in his sleep. Set Teixeira – usually top class – wasn’t in the game really in this heat.
The competition was abandoned again after the heat and scheduled to re-start again around 1.15pm local time (GMT -2). Livestream technicalities…
Update at 13.20pm. Livestream was live again with Gemma doing nice interviews with the finalists. It was officially HOWLING by then! We were getting serious buffeting up in the judges’ tower. Baguette fillings were flying around the room!