Massive First day of Competition

Day 1 of the IWT Morocco Spot-X 2017 was one of the biggest days of competition the IWT has ever seen. All 6 divisions were completed in 1 day before the opening ceremony in the evening.

Due to a challenging looking forecast for the competition window, head judge Duncan Coombs and his team decided to take full advantage of day 1 with great conditions.

Starting with 18 minutes heats, the Youth kicked off the day in chest to logo high waves and light offshore wind. With the help of the nonprofit Beyond Boardshorts supporting the new generation of Moroccan windsurfers, 7 local kids were able to register and compete. Jahden Tyger from Brazil took the Youth win and showcased his talent in the Amateur division as well. Coming from a wind swell spot favoring jumping, he had to adapt to the surfing conditions of this first day of competition. It will be exciting to watch him sail later in the week when the wind is supposed to be stronger.

As the wind picked up, heats were shortened to 15 minutes and the Women went out. Maui based riders Tatiana Howard, Samantha Bittner and Sarah Hauser showed great adaptability to new conditions, qualifying themselves for the finals, together with world traveler Annamaria Zollet, originally from Italy. Tatiana got the wave of round 1 demonstrating her famous smooth surf style. She picked off one of the bigger set waves opening with a big turn on the outside closing section, before finding a nice reform on the inside to finish with a few stylish turns.

Then it was the turn of the Amateurs to take over the spot, followed by the Pros. As the tide got lower, the waves got smoother and more powerful, but still in the fun size (shoulder to logo high) allowing all levels to have fun and perform magical rides. Right away an amazing battle took place during heat number 1 of the Pro between Moroccan local talent Soufian Sahili, IWT regular Russell Faurot and upcoming Italian wavesailing machine Federico Morisio setting the tone for the competition! Although Federico didn’t make it though this heat he definitely left a big impression on the judges who hope for more conditions this week to see if he can recover in the double elimination.

Masters and Grandmasters got their piece of the cake too. Getting more and more confident in each event JP Pooley took the win against Carl Spiess in the Masters division final, while Colby Deer bested Gerhard Thaler in the Grandmasters final. JP and Colby also shined in the Amateur division demonstrating great wave selection and pushing their limits. While JP’s progression was stopped in the quarter final of the Amateur division in a tough heat, Colby made his way to his first semi finals in the Amateur division since he’s been competing on the tour! The Moroccan representation was amazing too with 20 locals out of the 58 riders registered in all division. Local Yves Masnada was the highlight of the Amateur day performing powerful turns, agressive aerials and wining an intense final against Italian Alessio Carboni, Canadian Tom Soltysiak and Irish Paddy Buckley as the sun was close to setting.

The Pro Women final was a close battle between the “Maui girls” and Annamaria Zollet who had knowledge of the spot. Scores were very close but in the end, it’s Sarah Hauser who took the victory followed by Tatiana Howard who pushed through pain after a bad wipe-out bruising her leg in the first round. Not far behind in points were Annamaria and tour director Samantha Bitter who got great rides as well.

The Pro Men’s bracket was loaded with talent. In semi final 1 Kevin Pritchard threw some amazing tweaked aerials and Soufian Sahili took full advantage of his waves demonstrating his local knowledge of the spot. Semi final 2 was won by local star Boujmaa Guilloul followed by Edvan Souza from Brazil. Edvan, who used to compete on the world tour in freestyle, wowed the crowd with the move of the event landing an unbelievable air taka!

The Final was set to go off in excellent conditions. The wind had picked up enough to allow the finalist to move around easily, catching wave after wave. The tide had dropped creating some heavy sections, which were perfect for late hits and aerials. Edvan started off the heat with a big turn and aerial combo setting the tone for the rest. Kevin and Boujmaa then followed with high scoring waves of their own. Boujmaa showed off his knowledge of the spot, picking some of the longest waves finding section after section racking up some big scores. Kevin Pritchard however was able to find some of the heaviest sections of the heat putting up some big tweaked aerials, and a very smooth 1-handed aerial to take the win. Soufian sailed well with high scoring waves, but just couldn’t quite find the sections to land any big moves.

Again it’s amazing to see the IWT and the PWA collaborating on this event, allowing the PWA to allocate wildcards to the top 2 Pro riders.

At the conclusion of the day, and without a minute to lose, all the competitors and organizers left the beach and headed to Essaouira where the opening ceremony took place. A beautiful speech about the efforts put toward this event was given by the Governor of Essaouira Jamal Mokhtatar as well as Tarik Othmani president of the association Essaouira Mogador on behalf of the city counsel.

The night ended at an after party on the roof top of El Toros, a beautiful bar-restaurant in the Medina of Essaouira. Organizers and riders were very happy to have managed to get a result for all 6 division in one day. The updated forecast is now looking promising for the end of the week which could allow to run a double elimination in even better conditions. After this incredible first day of uninterrupted conditions for all levels from 11:00am till 7:30pm, it is with no doubt that the spot of Moulay has all the elements necessary to run an amazing windsurfing competition.

Text by Sarah Hauser, and photos by Si Crowther.