It was another early start on the beach of La Franqui, in Leucate, France. The day commenced with Women’s Round 1, with conditions that were gusty, but not as strong as we have seen typically at this location in previous years.
It was newcomer Maureen Castelle from New Caledonia who won the first heat of the day beating fellow riders Annabel Van Westerop and Rita Arnaus. Castelle landed clean and big S-bend to Blind, back to blind, and slims, and was delighted to pass directly through to the 3rd round. Annabel Van Westerop followed very close behind and nearly stole the win on her last trick, a slim chance, but unfortunately her kite was a little too high and it did not score too well.
One rider who was on fire this morning was Francesca Bagnoli, who showed some amazing skills by landing all her tricks perfectly. The battle was on with Therese Taabbel from Denmark who also rode extremely well, but it was Francesca who scored an 8 with a big heart attack, and passed directly through to Round 3.
During Heat 3, Czech Republic rider Paula Novotna decided she wasn’t going to give the newcomers a chance, and rode a solid heat landing an S-bend to Blind, Back to Blind, and Slim Chance. Vera Klabbers from the Netherlands managed to gain 2nd place with a powerful S-bend to Blind and Back to Blind also.
Annelous Lammerts showed how much the freestyle scene had been missing her during Heat 4. The dutch rider made an impressive come-back by winning over current World Champion Bruna Kajiya from Brazil. Annelous landed some high scoring tricks such as a Slimchance and backmobe. Kajiya missed her final three tricks and was unable to improve her score further, so would have to settle for second place.
After a short break, the competition resumed with Men’s heat 5. Former World Champion Aaron Hadlow showed a far stronger performance than yesterday and won his heat throwing a massive Slim 7, and a backside 315. South African rider Oswald Smith came in close behind him by landing an impressive Backside 315 and KGB.
Former World Champion Youri Zoon had a complicated start to heat 6, but he showed his experience and eventually managed to climb up to 1st position much to his relief. Nicolas Delmas put on a display of new up and coming talent by performing a well executed Crow Mobe 5 and Heart Attack, putting him in second position.
Heat 7 for the men was a great show, with all competitors landing massive tricks such as KGBs, Double Heart Attacks and Hinterberger Mobe 5s, but it was Belgian rider Jerome Cloetens who took the 1st position, a great achievement having just recently overcome an injury and having not had much opportunity to train in recent months.
It was Robinson Hilario from the Dominican Republic who stole the show during Heat 8 by performing tricks with amazing height and amplitude. He landed a massive 317 and Backside 317. Michael Schitzhofer showed that experience can certainly pay off, by riding very consistently and passing through with Hilario to the next round.
The Women’s rounds continued with Annabel Van Westerop dominating her Heat 5 with a big Slim Chance and Back to Blind. In second place it was a close call for Hannah Whiteley who almost missed out on her second position, but luckily managed it with her last Back to Blind. For Heat 6 Bruna Kajiya made up for her slower start earlier in the day, and threw down an impressive run of tricks with ease and style. Rita Arnaus from Spain slipped into second place and was extremely happy to pass into the next round.
Returning back to the Men’s event, Heat 9 was tricky with the wind conditions constantly increasing and decreasing. Liam Whaley from Spain won with a solid 317, Backside 315 and a stylish Indy Double Heart Attack. Talented young rider Set Teixeira from Brazil landed in second place despite losing his kite during the heat and managing only three high scoring tricks.
Heat 11 brought together three of the Dominican riders to battle it out amongst each other, and David Tonijuan from Spain who landed an almost perfect Crow Mobe 5, but struggled through the rest of his heat. Posito Martinez, Robinson Hilario and Ariel Corniel all put on an outstanding show. Finally it was Martinez who took the win with a 317 and Backside 317, while Hilario came in second with one of the highest scoring trick of the day, a 9.57 for his Slim 7.
As the end of the day approached, the final two heats of the day kept the crowds fully captivated. Stefan Spiessberger from Austria won Heat 11 with clean tricks such as a Front Blind Mobe and Back Mobe 5, followed by former World Champion Aaron Hadlow with a near perfect Backside 315 and Back Mobe 5.
The final heat of the day was intense and action packed. Carlos Mario was in control throughout, landing an outstanding Heart Attack 7 that scored a near 10. He also managed an impressive Backside 317 and 317. Alex Pastor ended up in second position landing a massive Back Mobe 5. Youri Zoon unfortunately did not manage to ride as he had anticipated, and was knocked out of the competition alongside Oswald Smith.
At 6pm competition was called off for the day, and will resume tomorrow with the Rider’s meeting called for 9am. The Elite League Freestyle competition will continue, followed by a Big Air Expression Session. The Freestyle Finals will be held on Sunday.