The German Freestyle Battles are on fire! After a successful season opener at the Surf Festival in Fehmarn, the GFB ran their first on-forecast event last weekend on the Meldorfer Spiecherkoog. Thanks to the on-call nature of the event, riders were treated to perfect 4.0 conditions all day, allowing to run a full competition for both the Men and the Women. Niclas Nebelung (Fanatic/Duotone/Maui Ultra Fins) and Lisa Kloster (MB-Boards/Sailloft) came out on top after an exciting day at the North Sea. Read the full event report below.
Race Director Leon Struppeck started the skippers meeting at 8:30 am after a total of 22 participants set up their equipment early in the morning. The fleet saw some newcomers, Leon Gluth and Julius Hartmann, while also being stacked with the usual suspects at the GFB. With a compact fleet, the single and double eliminations were finished in record time.
Freestylers who spent time on Fuerteventura, Karpathos or Leucate had a clear advantage at this competition. Winds were in excess of 35 knots, so even the heavyweights had to resort to their 4.0’s. Magnus Wessel (Point-7/Goya/Maui Ultra Fins) clearly mastered the conditions and impressed in the early rounds with a powerful Forward Loop and a high Shaka. Unfortunately newcomer Gluth was the victim of that sailing and had to wait for the comeback round to prove himself. Kevin Langbehn, who works as a firefighter as his daytime job, demonstrated his adeptness in putting out fires early. With a perfect Ponch, scoring maximum style points from the judges, he discarded of Luis Ponseti.
Boasting some significant competition experience in recent years, Sebastian Gux (GA-Sails/Tabou/Maui Ultra Fins) wasn’t quite able to materialise that into a result in the single. Being shown the door in the first round by Julius Hartmann, he was left waiting for the double elimination as well. As the competition progressed, Leon Struppeck (Tabou/Sailloft) found himself in an exciting battle against Foivos Tsoupras (Fanatic/Duotone/Maui Ultra Fins). Leading the heat until the very last minute, he had to accept a 5th position after Tsoupras busted out a precisely executed Flaka Shaka. Jannes Thomsen (Sailloft) made it into the top 4 with Tsoupras and was clearly experienced in the strong winds. Casually performing three Speedloops, two of which planing, he put on a display before his heat even started. He was also the only rider that opted for a 4.4 and it took Lucas Nebelung (JP/Gunsails/Maui Ultra Fins) to suppress his impressive performance.
The final saw a twist on what was a classic showdown of the Nebelung brothers. Niclas Nebelung (Fanatic/Duotone/Maui Ultra Fins) landed a host of double power moves and seemed confident about another win. Lucas had other plans though, and after improving on each of his brothers moves, he added a Bongka to his overpowering scoring sheet to take a first time elimination win in GFB history.
In the Women’s fleet there was more history in the making. All on 3.6 sails, Lisa Kloster (MB-Boards/Sailloft), Elena Dominick (JP/Severne) and Shania Raphael (Severne/Tabou) displayed the highest level ever seen at the battles. Despite the nuclear conditions, Shania showcased impeccable control in her Regular Ducks, despite the men complaining that they werent able to do it anymore in these winds. Rotating through Kono’s she took the third spot. Elena put in countless hours in strong winds this year, and was able to get into second with her ever growing repertoire of moves. Impressing most though, was Lisa Kloster, who seemed to be absolutely fearless. With some clear Flaka’s, Funnels and Switch Konos she put herself in the best position as the comeback round was about to start.
The wind was not done with the riders yet. Picking up even more, this event was set to be one of the windiest battles ever. Stamina was key, and Gux, who was out early, was energised to come back. He advanced through a total of 4 heats, taking down Ponseti, Wessel, Gabriel Heider and Luca Hartmann. Hartmann came back to the dyke disappointed, as he was also on a quite a comeback of his own with some expert Burners and Skopus in his heats. In his fifth heat, Gux started to show some wear and tear. With his hands bleeding due to blisters from sailing in strong winds for so long, he was up against a fresh and rested Tsoupras. Foivos left no stones unturned and put together a monster heat. A judge favourite was his Air Flaka, which could not have been better technically in any way.
In the battle for 3rd, Tsoupras was now up against Thomsen. It turned out that Thomsen was on a 4.4 as he did not have a 4.0 with him, and it was only his beaten up and water-soaked board that was keeping him attached to the surface of the water somehow. Performing some incredibly high moves, he was unable to land cleanly due to to simply being blown away half of the time. Tsoupras capitalised on that and played it safe. In the last minute he decided to put the nail in the coffin with a very risky Puneta into Burner. With a squeaky clean landing, he advanced into to battle for second against Niclas Nebelung.
Nebelung had a score to settle with his brother, and was not going to let Tsoupras take that chance away from him. Performing an almost robotically programmed routine, he advanced to take on Lucas in the double elimination final. Continuing his flow, Niclas managed to fend off a very strong heat from his brother who was throwing everything into the battle. Landing a Double Burner, Bongka and an Air Funnel Burner amongst other moves, Lucas still had to accept the necessity of a super final. With both brothers now having an elimination win, the super final would decide the overal event winner.
The super final was worthy of a world championship title decider. Double power moves were now the standard, and both showed their world class status. The freestyle frenzy only took 7 minutes, but it was enough for Niclas to beat Lucas again and claim another GFB event win.
The women’s double saw another great display of control in these tricky conditions. The order of the single elimination result did not change, but not for a lack of trying. Shania Raphael mounted a convincing attack on Elena Dominick, but did not manage to win in these overpowered winds. Kloster went out on the water looking extremely comfortable and defended her single position with another set of fearless moves.
The German Freestyle Battles once again delivered some incredible action with the on standby concept. We are excited to see more as the year progresses!