Between the 6th to the 13th of May, sailors from all over the world congregated on Moulay’s Moroccan shores for the Morocco Spot X IWT / PWA Qualifier – which will see the top two sailors, who choose to enter the opening PWA Wave event of the year – the Gran Canaria Wind & Waves Festival – qualify for the main draw.
Moulay Bouzerktoune has long been attracting windsurfers to its shores with the lure of strong, reliable trade winds and pumping waves proving irresistible and over the last 8 days this Moroccan gem lived up to its reputation to provide the perfect platform for an amazing competition, which saw Tatiana Howard and local hero Boujmaa Guilloul fight back in the double elimination to claim the event crowns.
The competition started with a bang with the promising forecast on the first day coming true, which saw strengthening north winds accompanied by a solid 1.8 meter groundswell at 13 seconds, which allowed the single eliminations to be completed on the opening day.
Heat 1 saw an extremely tough draw as Russ Faurot took on Soufian Sahili, Abdelrahim Elabdi and Federico Morisio, and it proved to be the closest heat of the first round. Faurot and Sahili both found decent set waves and both made solid starts with well-timed smacks and airs in the more critical part of the wave. Meanwhile, Morisio was in contention and led after his first two waves with scores of 7 and 4 points. However, after a decent start the Italian failed to find a better back up score, which cost him dearly as he was dispatched with Sahili winning the head ahead of Faurot.
Heat 2 was a two horse race, which saw Kevin Pritchard lead from the start and win the heat as expected. Maxime Fevrier was KP’s closest challenger and the Frenchman deservedly booked his place in the second round at the expense of Italian Mateo Spano and Zdenek Maryzko.
Heat 3 saw an upset as favourite Julian Taboulet made an early exit from the competition as he was beaten by Edvan Sousa and local Toufik Elabdi. Sousa was the clear winner of the heat with his jumping and wave riding in another league.
Heat 4 – the last heat in the first round – was dominated by the two Moroccan sailors. Boujmaa Guilloul earned the highest combined score of the round as he used his expert local knowledge to clinically dispatch of his rivals. By the end of the heat the local hero had racked up 14 points out of a possible 20. Mouhamed Elabdi secured his place in the top two ahead of Italian Luigi Madeddu and Russian Igor Yudakov.
Three locals battled it out against Kevin Pritchard in the opening semi and the favourite, KP, upped his game as the American pulled out trademark tweaked aerials, powerful snaps, floaters and gouges, while Sahili claimed second place to also book his place in the final.
The second semifinal saw a multi-cultural heat with four different nationalities battling it out – Brazilian Edvan Sousa, Frenchman Maxime Fevrier, American Russ Faurot and Morocco’s very own Boujmaa Guilloul – and it was the latter who proved to be the dominant force again at his home spot as he showed why he is the King of Moulay.
On his way to a comprehensive victory Boujmaa linked together the highest scoring wave of the competition – 9 points – by mixing aerials with dynamic snaps and cutbacks on a long, peeling wave. Fevrier also picked off some long waves, but failed to hit the critical section, which proved to be his downfall as he suffered a narrow half point defeat at the hands of Sousa, who also advanced into the final. Faurot couldn’t find his mojo, after an impressive first round heat and was left disappointed after missing out on a place in the final.
From the previous heats the two favourites unsurprisingly emerged as Boujmaa Guilloul and Kevin Pritchard and they continued their rich vein of form in the battle for the top. However, it was Sousa, who made the strongest start to the final as he kicked off proceedings with a radical air taka – the first of the competition – but the Brazilian then failed to find a decent backup score which left him to settle for third place ahead of Sahili, who couldn’t recover from a slow start.
By this point, Pritchard held the lead ahead of Guilloul, with KP racking up a 6 point wave after combining a variety of aerials and turns, which he then bettered with a one-handed aerial in the pit to earn 7 points. Boujmaa responded by heading out and gybing onto a set wave to turn the tie on its head as the local boy edged into a slender 0.2 of a point lead to setup a pulsating climax. KP drew upon all of his experience and responded in perfect fashion as he punished the two sections offered to him – kicking off the deciding wave with a gouging rail turn, which he fluidly linked into a perfectly timed air.
After a short wait the scores soon filtered through that his final wave had earned 7.5 points – the highest of the final – which deservedly gave him the win.
As expected from the forecast, the conditions returned to Moulay for the final day. With a full day of competition ahead it was decided that there would be 2 waves and 1 jump to count. The first round of the double elimination saw an early exit for Igor Yudakov and Luigi Madeddu, who couldn’t match the local talent on offer. Moroccan, Abdelrahim Elabdi scored highly with a one-footed backloop early in the heat, while Czech Zdenek Maryzko was also on fire as he safely booked his place in the second round.
Round 2 saw another surprise exit for Russ Faurot, who was knocked out by Zdenek, who went from strength-to-strength, landing planing forwards and clean backloops, joining Toufik Elabdi in progressing to Round 3. Federico Morisio narrowly missed out on advancing into the third round after his jumping let him down, which is a shame as earned some of the highest wave scores of the heat. Maxime Fevrier advanced with excellent wave choice, while local Abdelrahim Elabdi pulled out another one-footed backloop to navigate his way into the third round.
The third round saw one of the closest heats of the contest with blazing action from the start, but in the end it was Maxime Fevrier who secured top spot by way of a 2 to 1 decision from the judges – with his better wave selection again proving to be the difference. Meanwhile, Zdenek’s amazing run through the first two rounds was brought to and end.
Next up for Fevrier was Sahili and it was local boy, who just gained the upper hand in the tricky conditions to setup a tie against Brazilian Edvan Sousa from Jericoacoara in the fight for 3rd place. The battle for the podium started in explosive fashion with both sailors landing perfect backloops and forwards, but it was Sousa who would land the first devastating blow – on his first wave – as he scored the highest individual score of the double elimination with an air taka and two solid hacks to deservedly earn a 9 point ride. The Brazilian continued his fine form throughout the heat to set up a duel against Boujmaa Guilloul.
Local hero – Boujmaa Guilloul – didn’t disappoint the cheering crowd on the beach as he launched into radical one-foot backloops, while effortlessly linking together fluid turns with aerials and aggressive hacks. Sousa was pushing hard on his own waves, but couldn’t match his performance from the previous heat, despite his jumping being second to none with pushloops, forwards and one-foot backloops in his repertoire. Sousa’s fine display earned him the final place on the podium, while Boujmaa’s win was well received as he set up a rematch of the final on the opening day.
Waiting in the final was Kevin Pritchard and as expected the two riders matched one another jump-for-jump, with one-foot backloops being the pick of the bunch, so it would all boil down to who could excel on the wave. For the majority of the heat things remained balanced on a knifes edge, but in the closing minutes Boujmaa picked up a set wave and he didn’t falter as he destroyed it with 6 rasping turns to force the Super Final.
The full attention of the crowd, was focused purely on the water, as they held their breath hoping their local hero could overturn the result from the single elimination. The conditions in the super final were very testing, but both sailors still managed to find ramps to stick one-foot backloops again – with Pritchard edging ahead with a slightly higher score. However, Guilloul was determined to not let the win slip through his fingers and pushed hard on the small surf that was on offer, while Pritchard provided one of the highlights of the heat with a one-handed aerial, which left the tie delicately balanced.
At the end of a nail-biting decider only a fraction of a point separated the two sailors, but after some deliberation it was revealed that Boujmaa had fought back to win the event by way of a 2-1 decision – much to the delight of the screaming local crowd.
Heat 1 saw reigning IWT Champion – Sarah Hauser and Sam Bittner book their places in the next round as they grew in confidence throughout the heat with both women sailing in Moulay for the first time. As the heat progressed you could see them figuring out the waves at high tide and making the best out of the conditions on offer in the light winds.
In Heat 2, Tatiana Howard was also sailing in Moulay for the first time, but that didn’t stop her selecting the best wave of the morning – drawing smooth turns and carrying excellent speed throughout. The American was rewarded with a spot in the final, while Anna Maria Zollet secured the remaining place in the final with her training efforts in Morocco paying off.
In the middle of the afternoon, the tide dropped and the waves became more hollow and powerful – offering the perfect canvas for the finals. While Howard chose to ride the lower part of the break, finding open and smooth waves, Hauser decided to work the upwind peak, where she caught the more hollow waves, allowing her to ride with more risk, style and power, and her bravery was deservedly rewarded with the top spot on the podium in the single elimination – as she edged out Howard. Meanwhile, Bittner struggled to find her second wave so had to settle for fourth, while Zollet earned the final place on the podium after linking together two fluid waves in the medium sized range.
Tatiana Howard on her Moroccan experience: “I am not used to such big tide changes. After the first round I thought I had figured out the wave, but in the afternoon it was like sailing a new spot all over again. I caught my best waves a long way from the judges during the final. I am excited to sail again during the double elimination and try to take down Sarah [Hauser].”
The round one match between Sana El Arbaoui and Aurora D’Apolito saw the women’s double start in explosive style with D’Apolito linking several smooth turns together on both of her scoring waves to dispatch of El Arbaoui.
D’Apolito faced Sam Bittner in the second round and the American was able to slightly better D’Apolito’s wave riding to claim a narrow victory and set up a meeting against Anna Maria Zollet. With no change in the results from the single elimination it would once again be Zollet who stopped Bittner in her tracks to cement her place on the podium.
Heat 7 saw Maui based Tatiana Howard, an experienced starboard tack sailor, defeat Zollet with aggressive top turns and excellent wave choice to setup a rematch against Sarah Hauser – the winner of the single elimination – in the final.
The final opened with Howard ripping the small Moulay surf, while Hauser created chances of her own with her better wave choice offering more scoring opportunities. However, while the New Caledonian hit the first section hard she couldn’t seal the deal after crucially falling on her second turn. In the jumping department, Hauser also stomped the highest forward loop, but Howard’s landing was much cleaner, so the American was rightly rewarded with a higher score, which sent the women into a winner takes all decider…
In the Super Final – Howard went from strength-to-strength as she continued to build on the momentum she had built from her win in the final. The American crucially demonstrated better wave selection than Hauser, while throwing buckets of spray on her way to victory as she overturned the result from the single elimination to walk away as the Queen of Moulay.
While we didn’t see the full glory of Moulay’s potential, the competition was still a huge success with two days of excellent competition across a mix of conditions. And we look forward to returning again in 2018. The PWA and IWT would like to extend a massive ‘thank you’ to Boujmaa Guilloul and his crew for their hospitality and great organization.
Result Morocco Spot X IWT / PWA Qualifier – Men’s
1st Boujmaa Guilloul
2nd Kevin Pritchard
3rd Edvan Sousa
4th Sofian Sahili
5th Maxime Fevrier
Result Morocco PWA Spot X IWT / PWA Qualifier – Women’s
1st Tatiana Howard
2nd Sarah Hauser
3rd Annamaria Zollet
4th Sam Bittner
5th Aurora D’Apolito