IWT – Topocalma Infernal Finals Day

The long wait was worth it because the conditions on the finals day at The Topocalma Infernal were truly stunning. The fast and powerful left hand waves were head to logo high, with occasional larger sets. This may not sound totally ‘epic’ but the Topocalma wave is so good, so fast, so powerful, so perfect, that even overhead waves here allow the best riders to put on a truly spectacular show of speed and power. It was small enough for all the divisions to get out and rip, large enough for the pro riders to go completely nuts. Perfect.

The conditions here are always so good that The Topocalma Infernal looks set to become a long term fixture on the IWT calendar. The event is already expected to be bigger in 2020.  Topocalma is a place of pristine wild coastline at its most pure. -stunning natural beauty, rugged and raw, it’s very exposed on the beachfront. The fine black sand flies around when the wind is strong, and there are no facilities, no creature comforts. It requires patience and tremendous resilience from riders and crew but… the rewards for enduring all of that are huge. This is one of the best left hand breaking waves for wavesailing that we’ve ever seen.

By the final day the riders had been whittled down to the hard core best in each division.

The Women were first out as the wind started to flow across the beach on the finals day. They had enough wind to move around comfortably and the waves were smooth and powerful. Once on the waves, the riders accelerated on the Topocalma freight train and things got hot. Maria Andres (ESP) again dominated with her great wave selection giving her terrific down the line speed to charge the lip and throw clean arcs of spray. After many years as one of the top PWA slalom competitors in the world, Maria knows speed. She clearly loved blasting down these fast waves. Earlier in the competition window, in the opening heat of the Women, Angela Cochran (USA) was second behind Maria but, she looked to be just warming up. It had been 20 years since she ‘went left’! What we saw in that opening heat from the past two times professional world wavesailing champion was a fierce attack of the wave. This woman means business and she knows how to deliver. It was clear that she had more power to unleash once she could settle into the go-left groove again and we all wanted to see it. Sadly, that opening display of world champion power never got a chance to shine, as Angela had to leave the competition early to be with family back on Maui. Thus second place in the women’s division was effectively ceded to the young, up and coming Irupe Lamanuzzi from Argentina.

The Finals day saw two more youth final heats run, to give a total of three final heats. Each heat result contributed equally to an overall score that decided the winners of the division for the Topocalma Infernal. Takara Ishii (JPN) dominated all three Youth finals and easily took first place in the end with a perfect score. Takara was a shock exit in the Pro Men when he was knocked out before reaching the top 16. After reaching the Pro Men’s Final in the IWT Omaezaki Japan Cup only weeks before, this was a huge upset. As previously reported, Takara set himself the task of not just winning the Youth (which he did without a serious rival at his very high Pro level) but he was determined to dominate every heat, in order to atone for his early exit in the Pro Men’s bracket. So he did just that. Takara smashed the lip, flew giant aerials, and went for fully inverted goiters in the most critical sections. Young local lad, Martin Fabres, sailed very well in the first final earlier in the competition window to claim second, but sadly was unable to attend the finals day due to school commitments, and missed the two extra Youth Finals heats on this day. He therefore effectively ceded his overall second spot to Argentina’s Simbad Lamanuzzi (Irupe’s twin 17 year old brother) who took second overall. The Lamanuzzi family riding high, and rewarded for their long drive from Argentina to Mantanzas and Topocalma with papa Lamanuzzi (Felipe) pulling third in the Masters….but more of that later.

The long event window demanded greater flexibility from some local riders than they could easily manage, which was frustrating because young Martin Fabres is seriously good and we missed him on that last day. With the absence of Martin, an opportunity also opened up for the youngest local lad, 15 year old Iñaki Maturana to move up a spot and take third overall in the combined results for the Topocalma Infernal after the three Youth heats. Iñaki is relatively new to the waves but he is an extremely determined young rider, and was improving before our very eyes in every heat sailed. He even nosed ahead of older and more experienced Simbad in the last of the three finals to claim a second place in his three heat total. Not quite enough to move him ahead of Simbad overall for the event, but the other youth will have to watch out for this guy next year as his learning curve looks very impressive. The IWT loves returning each year to these locations, and seeing the progress of these local young riders.

A few beautiful big clean waves came through. Simeon Glasson (AUS) appears to be a bit of a port tack specialist, regularly selecting the best set waves and tearing them apart. Simeon’s best wave saw him open with a searing cutback on the first section, then gathering for an under the lip speed turn, followed by another powerful closing hit. Nicolas Recordan (CHI), competing in both the Masters and Pro divisions was a worthy adversary. He knows this wave well, and impressed the judges with clean critical riding. Nicolas didn’t quite match Simeon’s power and speed, but was very good nonetheless. Felipe Lamanuzzi (ARG) mostly sails on lakes in Argentina, but has become a solid wave sailor competing on the South American portion of the IWT, placing well both in Peru and Chile. Felipe sailed a strong competition, and will take home third place in the Masters division.

Open Final
The Open (Amateur) Final saw conditions ramp up a notch. The waves seemed to be a bit more consistent, and the wind came in stronger as well. Cote Priewer (CHI) continued his dominating run through the bracket, putting in a very solid performance to take the win. Cote looked like one of the pros with power carves and aerials to match. It was not a walk through for Cote however, with both Thibaut Imbert (FRA) and Roberto Carrasco (CHI) finding set waves and racking up the points. Roberto was pushing hard and pulled a couple of nice aerials securing his second place position, while Thibaut had some solid carving turns on a set wave to finish in third.

Pro Men Final
These top riders exploded at the opening buzzer. The first 60 seconds of this heat saw every rider coming in on bomb sets, matching turns with aerials. The opening exchange set the tone for the rest of the 28 minute final. Antoine Martin (GPE) started with a fast wall linking a couple power turns with a very critical and perfectly executed goiter. Federico Morisio (ITA) found a perfect set wave hitting 2 big aerials to go along with perfectly timed pocket turns. Diego Fabres (CHI) and Morgan Noireaux (HAW) matched each other with nice running waves and good turns to score just behind Federico and Diego. The rest of the heat was back and forth with each rider pushing to one up the other. Morgan put on a vertical turning display of riding that was hard to match, but he was unable to land any of his moves. Diego chose nice peeling waves allowing him some of the most radical cutbacks of the contest, but also fell just short, missing on his taka attempt. The day belonged to Antoine, sailing just a bit more radically than the others. Federico, with the perfect heat strategy, connecting long waves with many well timed hits secured him second place, while Diego and Morgan rounded out third and fourth position.

The final was so close between these pros, and the anticipation on the beach was high for further competition. All finalists were ripping the waves to pieces, and in the end it came down to execution of maneuvers, with Antoine just a step above.

The formal closing presentation event will be hosted tonight by the Hotel Surazo in its stunning beachfront, open fire lounge and bar area under the stars. We are excited to all be together and celebrate the achievements of the riders and the successful conclusion of the second event on this year’s International Windsurfing Tour.

The results here mean that overall rankings are starting to form up in each division. For the Pro Men it is clear that Antoine Martin is taking a blistering big early lead with two first places. He is very, very strong but international touring competition can be a long and hard road. Apart from the incredible high standard and depth of talent to compete amongst, there are many things that can go wrong on tour including airlines losing your luggage (Morgan has lost equipment on three recent trips that have affected his results), illness (two years ago Maria Andres was very sick with a mystery bug in Peru) and injury (Camille Juban has missed the first two events this year due to injury). With so many variables, achieving two top spots from the first two events is a major achievement for Antoine Martin.

His main rivals for the IWT 2019 Pro Men’s Championship so far are: i) Bernd Roediger (HI) who made the final in Japan, and came second and then missed the making the top eight here earning equal ninth  ii) Morgan Noireaux, who missed the top sixteen in Japan earning equal seventeenth and then made the final here coming fourth iii) Takara Ishii, who made the final in Japan, coming fourth, and then missed the top 16 here earning equal seventeenth iv) Federico Morisio, who didn’t come to Japan, and then came second here, so he won’t be high on the overall rankings for a while to come but he is sailing very well, and has a steely determination and a remarkable focus this year v) the current Aloha Classic Champion, Camille Juban, will join the tour in Pistol River for his first event and he plans to then compete in Baja, Peru and Maui to make up the four event results to count towards overall – Camille is a two-time Aloha Champion and three-time AWT Champion, but he cannot drop any results and now needs all four of those last events on the tour to go his way vi) Jake Schettewi made the final in Japan and came fourth, then didn’t follow up with Chile but if he gets to three more events (school commitments pending) he will also be a serious contender vii) the mighty Boumaa Guilloul just missed the final in Japan, coming fifth, and then did not come to Chile but will be in Pistol, Baja and Maui so he is definitely a serious threat viii) Levi Siver, fifth in Japan, and may come to more events ix) Edvan Souza, fifth in Japan, and then was bundled out before reaching the top sixteen here in Chile but will be back for Pistol where his jumping game will make him ultra dangerous x) Russ Faurot, tour co-founder and ripper, also just missed the final in Japan, earning a fifth place there, and then a ninth here in Chile, so he is once again in with the big guns xi) Graham Ezzy earned a ninth in Japan, and may be back for more, and is always a major threat at any international wavesailing contest.

The point is clear, it’s tough to win on the IWT any year with so many variables and challenges, but it is especially tough this year, with so many top riders gunning for the overall US$50,000 prize.

The Pro Women have yet to have any riders rack up more than one event score, so overall results have not yet formed up, but the winner of the first event in Japan, Arrianne Aukes, and the winner of this event in Chile, Maria Andres, are the clear front runners so far for the US$10,000 first place prize money. Two-time Aloha champion and three-time IWT champion, Sarah Hauser, will join the tour for her first scoring opportunity in Pistol River, and then will build her points from there with Baja, Peru and Maui. Sarah is perhaps the most dangerous woman on tour this year, with her strong record of IWT overall victories, and coming from behind with the points to unsettle the other top women. Sarah is determined to claim that big cash prize for herself! Many other big names will join the challenge as the events unfold. Fighting for equal prize money this year, this is a big opportunity for the top female wave riders of the world.

The Youth overall is currently being dominated by Takara Ishii with a third in Japan, and a first here. He is charging ahead in the rankings, leading arch rivals Jake Schettewi, and Takuma Sugi, but both of these riders can beat him on their day, so it’s still a long road ahead to the top of the youth podium at the end of the year, and the youth only need three events to count.

The Amateur division has been renamed the Open division for the IWT. So far no Open division riders have competed in both Japan and Chile so there are no overall results forming up here yet. This will change dramatically with Pistol and Baja as many Open riders will compete in both, and then get pumped up for one more in either Peru and or Maui. The Open division also only needs three event results to count towards overall. This will create a very competitive field with many more riders being able to reach the full competitive total of three event results.

The Masters division (45+) is currently being led by Simeon Glasson with a fifth in Japan and a first here in Chile. He is the early leader but it will get much harder from here onwards, as more very talented Masters join the fray in coming events and only three event results need to count. Pistol River is likely to have some serious legends of the sport come down to strut their stuff in this increasingly prestigious division. We may well see Masters like Kai Katchadourian, Keith Teboul, Ferdinando Loffreda, Patrick Bergeron, Sean Aiken, Paul Karaolides, Michi Schweiger, Glen Haslbeck, Adrian Levy, just to name a few. If things really heat up we could see superstars like World Champion Fransisco Goya, or even the king himself, Robby Naish is just a plane ride away, and competed in the first Pistol River Wave Bash 10 years ago in 2010 that kicked off the whole AWT/IWT. Will we see a return of the king? All of these riders are truly outstanding talents in the Masters bracket these days.

The tour has now had two-for-two very successful opening events with genuinely stunning conditions in both, and seriously strong competitors across divisions. Standards are high. Conditions are excellent. IWT Head Judge Duncan Coombs is enjoying his first year with the IWT (he remains the Head Judge for PWA wave and Freestyle events) and has brought his exceptional skills to bear on each event, to lift standards and push riders harder than ever. All in all, our sport has a lot of energy behind it, and it is great to see everyone pushing so hard.

Photos by Chris Caromaisson