Belgian Yentel Caers (JP/NeilPryde) manages to claim the all-round 2023 EFPT title over the 2023 Freestyle European Champion Lennart Neubauer (Starboard/Severne/Maui Ultra Fins) by just 15 points difference! Caers has shown his exceptional versatility, competing in all three disciplines: Freestyle, Foilstyle and Tow-In this season. Becoming the first ever European Foilstyle Champion, next to winning the EFPT Tow-in event in Vesoul, as well as performing consistently on the Freestyle Tour shows how dedicated he is to freestyle, regardless of the conditions he is faced with. All combined, he manages to close the season with 848 points, making him the most all-round freestyler on the 2023 Freestyle Pro Tour.
Despite an equally stellar performance on tour this year, the 2023 Freestyle European Champion Lennart Neubauer came short 15 points (collecting 833 points), despite being on the podium at all disciplines as well. One thing is clear though, every rider at the top of any of the disciplines, is performing surprisingly well at the other disciplines as well, confirming how transferable and universal freestyle skills are. Who else is that consistent and an all-rounder on tour? Steven Van Broeckhoven (Starboard/Gunsails) of course, who took a close third in the overall 2023 EFPT All Disciplines Ranking and has said on multiple occasions that especially the Foilstyle discipline is reigniting his passion for freestyle to new heights again. Challenging oneself is at the core of every sportsman, and venturing into the different categories of the sport looks to be paying off regardless of which generation a rider is from. Let’s take a quick tour through some highlights of the 2023 season:
Dominated by Neubauer, the Freestyle discipline saw countless events this year, culminating in an exciting on-forecast final in Brouwersdam, the Netherlands. Before claiming his maiden title though, the greek who was returning from injury, had to test the waters. The first sign of his domination came in Bonaire, where the Proving Grounds Event at the Frans Paradise was stage to a couple of remarkable heats. Despite losing out the event victory to Youp Schmit (GA-Sails/Tabou) in the double elimination, Lennart made a statement by beating every other favourite at least once during the course of the event. This included Yentel Caers in what was one of the most riveting heats the entire 2023 season saw. The championship battle was now truly kickstarted, especially with a couple of fresh talents, the likes of Bodhi Kempen (Severne) and Nigel Hart (FutureFly/Point-7), in the mix at the top as well.
At the EFPT in Austria, Caers was taken out by a storming Van Broeckhoven in the double elimination. Reaching the final, the 5 x European Champion had Neubauer waiting for him, who had just won his first ever competition elimination earlier that day. A showdown of generations ensued, with Neubauer full of confidence after managing to beat Van Broeckhoven in Bonaire a few weeks before. The rest is history, and we invite you to check out the highlight video from the 2023 EFPT Austria below. In the meantime, Caers had a disappointing 5th which put him on the back foot for the rest of the season.
With a couple of Proving Grounds Series events mixing up the rankings slightly, as well as the EFPT Vieste seeing insufficient conditions to run the freestyle, it was all down to the finals event in Brouwersdam. With excellent conditions, this on-forecast event allowed Neubauer to seal the deal on his first European Title. Caers still mounted a solid defence, and managed to win the final event of the year, while Van Broeckhoven came in second. The Belgians, for whom Brouwersdam is somewhat of a homespot, managed to make the title race excitingly close towards the end. However, with Neubauer getting to third position he had secured enough points not to have to win the head to head with them to secure the title.
Shuffling around with each other all season, the final rankings for the Freestyle discipline saw Neubauer in first, Van Broeckhoven in second and Caers completing the podium in third.
The 2023 season saw the first official result in the Foilstyle discipline. Panini Di Mare and Camping Spiaggia Lunga in Vieste hosted the competitors that were all eager to find out where they stand in this new discipline. There was a lot of excitement around the fact that very few of the riders had Foilstyled with eachother. This meant that the field was wide open, and riders like Tim Gerdes (Severne) were named as potential dark horses for the competition. The absence of Foilstyle innovator Balz Muller (Severne) also meant that any one of the riders could win.
In the end, it was competitive experience that proved to be the determining factor, with the usual suspects on top. Yentel Caers combined that with an ace up his sleeve, the Foilstyle Pasko. Being the only one of the riders to consistently land it, it gave him the much needed edge to win both the single as well as the double elimination at this event. The biggest winner at this event though? The freestyle windsurfing community that got treated to some world class action in conditions that would otherwise be incontestable. Foilstyle made a grand entry and is now here to stay!
The second Foilstyle event of the season took place at the Tropical Corner in Geneva. Unfortunately due to a lack of wind (but perfect Tow-in conditions…) no result was obtained. This meant that the results from the 2023 EFPT Vieste were decisive in crowning the first ever Foilstyle European Champion: Yentel Caers.
Freestylers are well known for their inability to sit still. No wind? Let’s create some apparent wind and still challenge each other for the most stylish moves! This season saw two official Tow-in events, as well as countless showcase challenges along the way. We got to enjoy Syncro Team Tow-in in Austria, as well as some picturesque action in front of the old town of Vieste. However, the competitive season started in a small french town in May.
Vesoul, although relatively unknown, is home to a dedicated freestyle community that wanted to prove that Freestyle is everywhere. With crowds galore, Yentel Caers left his opposition in shambles, landing clean double air moves time and time again. Joining him on the podium were Foivos Tsoupras (Duotone/Maui Ultra Fins) and George Grisley (Duotone), both riders getting to celebrate with champagne for the first time in their life. With the absence of the other two Tow-in experts Sam Esteve (JP/NeilPryde) and Lennart Neubauer, the European Tow-in title was not far removed from Caers’ hands.
While the wind wasn’t there for the Foilstyle, Geneva did provide excellent Tow-in conditions once again. Yentel Caers came into the event knowing that the only thing he needed to do was to qualify for the final, and his European Tow-in title would be secured. Unfortunately disaster struck, and the Belgian went out in the qualifying rounds, paving the way for either Grisley or Tsoupras to lead the rankings. In the end it was Grisley who delivered, with Sam Esteve, who won the event, taking the vice-european title. Caers managed to still get on the podium on countback, and said mutliple times that he’s not feeling down, because tow-in for him is mainly a show discipline and he enjoys doing it without the pressure of having to win.
With the Tow-in rankings added to Foilstyle and Freestyle, most people would expect Neubauer to come out on top. Still, Caers, who also became the 2023 Freestyle World Champion, ended up being most consistent overall, and became the 2023 FPT All Discipline Champion. The Freestyle Pro Tour is excited to see where this three-discipline format will take competitive freestyle in 2024. One thing is for sure, regardless of the conditions, action is guaranteed!