October 31-November 11, 2017, Hookipa Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii – After utilizing nearly the entire holding period for the 2017 Aloha Classic, the final horn blast signalled the end of the Pro Mens Final with Bernd Roediger in second place after an intense competition.
With less than a point separating the four finalists, performance levels were at an all time high with Bernd giving it everything he had.
“Semi Final round of the Single Elimination. I had to face Graham Ezzy, Kevin Pritchard and our boy Kai Lenny! I knew advancement wasn’t guaranteed and there was no playing it safe! So I scored a 9 on my first wave with a Goiter! Then I had to search for another score, however, it found me! With minutes left in the heat I found myself turning up the face on a ridiculously un-make-able 10ft bowl, and before I could convince myself otherwise, I aired the section. It was the loftiest air and most thrilling experience I’ve had on windsurf gear!” recalls Roediger.
“I went all out every wave! The four-man format of windsurf competition definitely promotes strategic sailing, as 2nd place is just as rewarding as 1st, its all about advancing. However, once you’re in the Final, you have total freedom! That’s why making the Final is a great to goal to have, going in. If you can make it there, you have the opportunity to show what you can do without having to stress over making that next round! Ultimately though, the guys that sail well at Ho’okipa are in constant dialogue with the ocean. Always feeling out what the wave is doing, always reading the water, communicating and reacting on impulse. Listening for their cues, so to speak. So as that they surf the wave, the way it asks to be surfed, no more and no less.”
Roediger caught an impressive seven waves in the Final. It was his smooth turns, big aerials and massive Goiters that gave him his scoring rides of 8.3 and 8.47 to secure his second place finish.
Naish teammate Kai Lenny also returned to the Aloha Classic in an impressive way after a great showing in 2016. Stringing together solid performances heat after heat with his smooth, natural style, Kai was a standout in each round until his campaign drew to a close in the Semi-Final round against Bernd and eventual event winner Morgan Noireaux. Still a very impressive performance from the multi-talented waterman, who has competed in the Red Bull Heavy Water and WSL Peahi Challenge in the past month as well.
The Naish Sails team had a solid presence in other divisions as well with Naish’s kite designer Damien Girardin getting back to his windsurfing roots and winning the Amateur division. Hood River ripper Sean Aiken returned to Maui as well and finished third in the masters with Michi Schweiger finished just behind in fourth. Also finishing on the podium in the Grand Masters Division was the legendary Rob Funk who also played double duty helping on the live cast commentary with his local insight.
Over the two week holding period competitors saw every face of Ho’okipa, from nuking winds and small waves, to maxing swell and barely enough wind to sail. Luckily Bernd was armed with the Force IV Sail, which provided ample power to get him into position and rode the new 2018 Hardline wave board which he is especially stoked on some of the new adjustments to the production shape.
“There were some tweaks made for the 2018 Hardline that have proved really beneficial! Most notably, the straightening of the overall outline. Here, we made the tail and nose ever so slightly wider, thereby creating more “parallel” rails. Essentially, a straighter, firmer, and sharper edge with which to cut! This has made the board way faster when progressing down the line, which equates to bigger turns, airs, maneuvers, everything is amplified!”
With a less than stellar forecast at the beginning of the holding period it was great to see the event close with great conditions for the Pro Men and Women to truly display the best of the sport of Windsurfing. With only two days left in the window it was do or die. “We got to the beach on Friday [November 10], ready to move into the Quarter Finals, with amazing swell but NO wind. We waited there, praying for wind, for hours that day! Finally, at around 2 in the afternoon, the clouds parted and the winds blew in like some sort of miracle! From there, it was literal smooth sailing!” said Roediger. Needless to say Mother Nature saved the best for last as another epic Aloha Classic drew to a close.
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Photos: @Si Crowther | International Windsurfing Tour