6-20-2010 10:00 AM
This summer marks the official return of the Pistol River Wave Bash, which was on a ten year hiatus. Under the management of Samantha Bittner, the event's first year back greatly exceeded expectations in attendance. Over 75 windsurfers hailing from as far as France and England traveled to compete in the legendary conditions wind and wave conditions offered by the Oregon Coast. The conditions for competition have not disappointed. Head judge Matt Pritchard described the conditions as "epic". He went on to say, "After having been around the world traveling with the Pro Windsurfing Association and searching for waves and wind for the last 25 years, this place goes in the top 5 in the whole world."
On Thursday, the wind ramped up into the high 30s which made the competitors choose their smallest sails and boards to deal with the extreme conditions. Huge aerial moves and wave rides were judged in Single Elimination heats. Veteran pro windsurfers Kevin Pritchard and Francisco Goya came out on top of the expert men's division, allowing them to skip competing in the Double Elimination heats on Friday.
Friday brought winds that were slightly less strong but were described by pro windsurfer Russ Faurot as, "excellent for a competition.' The judging was based upon scoring one jump and two wave rides in 8 minute heats. Huge push loops and back loops were standard fare. Clean landings and jump height were the determining factors in jump scores. Wave selection and style would play into the scoring for the wave rides. Throughout the day, parking crowded the highway from passers-by enthralled by the action. Many walked long distances to reach the competition area as heats were run late into the evening.
The women's division ran heats on Thursday and Friday as well. Four of the best women in the world competed in the challenging conditions, scoring big forward loops and back loops along with silky smooth wave rides. Canadian Ingrid Larouche pulled out first place on the podium, followed by Tanya Saleh.
The future of windsurfing was on high display as well as competitors Zane Schweitzer and Bernd Roediger duked it out in back-to-back heats to determine the winner. The juniors, who are 16 and 14 respectively sailed well beyond their years, nailing push loops and back loops in rapid fire. Their wave rides were stylish and had huge aerials, as well as sliding through freestyle moves on the wave faces. The rest of the competitive field were blown away by the level of the junior's competition and many commented that they had the most entertaining heats of the day.
Going into the final day, one last heat is left to run between Kevin Pritchard and Francisco Goya to determine the overall expert Men's winner of the Pistol River Wave Bash. Reports of the final heat will be published later.