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Tow-In Qualifiers set the stage for finals in old town Vieste - FPT Vieste Day 3 Highlights

by Freestyle Pro Tour 24 May 22:09 BST
FPT Vieste Day 3 © Freestyle Pro Tour

A flurry of Tow-In action went down on the third day of the 2024 FPT Vieste. With all three qualification rounds completed, the Saturday finals in the old town of Vieste can take place with the 10 best riders present.

The day also saw another attempt at Foilstyle. Check out the full highlights and read all about the action during the Tow-In qualification below.

The wind was tempting everyone throughout the morning, with sufficient conditions coming in and out of range periodically. The call was made to give the Foilstyle discipline another go, but by the time that the first heat got out there, the conditions had deteriorated again. As always when there is too little wind, focus shifted towards Tow-In, and on day 3 it was all about the qualification rounds in preparation of tomorrow's final.

During Tow-In qualifying each rider gets 3 runs to try and impress the crowds and judges. Only their best run counts, allowing them to take some risks after getting a good move in early. The top 3 from each round will qualify into the grand final in the old town of Vieste. Additionally, there is one extra spot left in the final for an unqualified rider with the highest score across all three qualification rounds.

The first qualification round saw rookie Cosmo Pezzetti open with a really clean Burner. The Italian youngster set the bar high straight out of the gate. This was his best run of the qualification and with 5 points not quite enough to qualify in the end. Maaike Huvermann (Severne/Maui Ultra Fins) also put in her best run first, taking a risk and going for a Culo. Regular stance moves are relatively hard in Tow-In and the judges immediately rewarded her with a great score, especially considering the tricky conditions. With quite a bit of chop around, all due to the light wind still blowing across the Spiaggia Lunga, doing moves was with control was not easy. Still learning the ropes of the discipline was Elena Dominick (Severne). The German Freestyle Battles regular made some great attempts but unfortunately did not qualify for the final. She stated afterwards: "I was disappointed with my performance after some successful training runs, but I will not give up and I will keep practicing!".

Although impressing during all the practice sessions, Rafael de Windt could not align the stars for himself when it really counted. The Curacao rider went big on all of his attempts, but could not stick the landing which the judges value significantly. Also struggling in this round was George Grisley (Duotone). The 2023 Tow-In champion is known to be dealing with a light injury at the moment, and spent his runs attempting to do a triple Funnel. Despite succeeding, the judges did not see his performance fit of the grand final.

So who made it into the final from the first qualification round? Dudu Levi (FutureFly/Gunsails) opened with an Air Funnel Burner, continuing the trend of putting in the highest scoring move on the first run. He then did exactly as expected, taking more risks with each next attempt. With a No Handed Culo send as well as an Air Bob Culo crash he definitely got the crowds excited for more. Joining him in the final is Bodhi Kempen (Severne). The Brouwersdam local took a note from Huvermann and also went for a regular stance move, stomping a nice Culo to get a solid base score. He then went on to stick a Double Culo, solidifying his position in the final. The final rider to join them comes as no surprise: Lennart Neubauer (Starboard/Severne/Maui Ultra Fins). The 2023 EFPT champion had a slow start in this qualification, but managed to sail out of an insanely powerful and clean Air Funnel Burner. Taking note from Dudu on that move, he then decided to replicate Bodhi's best move, the Double Culo. Despite not landing it, his earlier run was more than enough to secure him the highest spot of the first Qualification round.

The second qualification round came soon after and saw another young Italian rookie kick it off. Ercole Rosso-Chioso (WeOne) was improving with every run and managed to have a nice funnel count for him in this round. A more experienced Italian youngster in this round, whom we've seen on tour countless times already, was Piero Rautnik (Hot Sails Maui/JP-Australia). Piero won the 2022 Rookie Camp in Austria and is still rocking his well deserved JP board that he was awarded for that feat. He clearly took some notes from the first qualification round and threw himself around a nice Culo. He added a crashed burner to the mix and unfortunately did not make it into the finals. Leander Halm (Starboard/Severne/Maui Ultra Fins) was the final youth in this round. The German rider has started practicing Tow-In merely 3 weeks ago at the GFB and despite the tricky conditions impressed the judges with his funnel attempts.

Learning some Tow-In at the GFB as well and representing the scene here was Lisa Kloster. The current Freestyle tour leader in the women did some funnels but initially struggled to produce the Tow-In spark we've grown accustomed to from her at other events in this discipline. On the very last run she gave everyone a glimpse of it again, going for the only Spock in the entire competition so far. The regular stance moves were popular, with Tigo Kort (JP-Australia/NeilPryde) opening his heat with a great Culo. He tried to back up his score with a Double Culo on his last run as well, and did just enough to qualify for the final.

The standouts of the second round were undoubtedly Kiri Thode (FutureFly/Gunsails) and Yentel Caers (JP-Australia/NeilPryde). Kiri started safe with a nice Burner, but quickly levelled up to a smooth Air Funnel Burner to secure himself a final spot. Caers, after a disappointing result on the 2023 Tow-In tour, was hungry to prove himself. Just before hitting the water he managed to convince everyone he would start safe and then build up, only to then open with the cleanest Air Funnel Burner so far. Apparently he was not that satisfied with it yet, with his second run being yet another rendition of the move, but this time twice as powerful in execution. Being sure of his spot in the final, the Belgian finished with an absolutely dry Double Culo. He came off of the water with perfectly dry hair, celebrating his advancement to tomorrow's showdown in town.

Finally, the best was kept for last. With a lot of time to observe, riders in the third qualification round knew exactly what to do to get top marks from the jurors panel. Fernando Sottille (WeOne), Luka Stomp, Manolis Chrysopoulos (NeilPryde/JP-Australia), Sebastian Gux (GA-Sails/Tabou/Maui Ultra Fins) and Jamie Howard (Severne) all started safe with Air Funnels or Burners to fill their scoresheets. However, that was not going to be enough as the rest of the field aimed for the stars from the very start. Tim Gerdes (Severne) put himself into the final with a Burner 360 where he masterfully managed to stay on the board, holding on for dear life in the end to impress the judges with his balancing skills. Youp Schmit (GA-Sails/Tabou) opened with an almost inverted Culo to replicate the success of other riders in earlier rounds. But starting off with a real bang was Foivos Tsoupras (Duotone/Maui Ultra Fins). The German pulled a perfect Cana Brava out of nowhere, surprising the crowds and judges alike. With 8 points for this feat, the others had no choice but to step it up.

After the first round the scores were already so high that it was clear that it was going to be the top 4 from this round advancing to the finals. This was because the 4th ranked rider already had a higher score than any of the non qualified riders from previous rounds. The stakes were high and that was clearly reflected in the following action. Chrysopoulos pushed for speed like crazy and found himself in the gnarliest wipeout of the competition so far. Representing Curacao, Luka Stomp surprised with a spectacular Burner 360, although not quite matching Gerdes' one.

Sebastian Gux needed to go all in to try and secure a spot in the final. Launching himself into a No Handed Burner, a move that is extremely hard to land in Tow-In due to the lack of wind on the landing, he almost stuck it, and at least managed to stay standing on the board. Unfortunately this wasn't enough to advance in the face of the other athletes. Youp Schmit proceeded to get the highest score of the day with an insane Air Funnel Burner. While getting 9 points for it, he also practically landed on top of event photographer Miles Taylor. Youp continued to solidify his result with a purely stylish One Handed Culo, throwing up the shaka gesture to the crowd for good measure upon landing.

Joining Schmit in the final was Tsoupras, Gerdes and Howard. Tsoupras tried to improve on his Cana Brava with a Skopu but didn't quite succeed at it, despite already knowing he was through. Gerdes and Howard both managed to hold on to their spot after their first moves were good enough to advance.

What a day full of action. With the final 10 now set, Vieste is preparing for an epic conclusion to the Tow-In discipline in the old town. Check out the full list of riders qualified below, and stay tuned for the finals tomorrow!

Qualifying results:

Qualification 1

    1. Lennart Neubauer
    2. Bodhi Kempen
    3. Dudu Levi
    4. Maaike Huvermann
    5. George Grisley
    6. Cosmo Pezzetti
    7. Rafael de Windt
    8. Elena Dominick

Qualification 2

    1. Yentel Caers
    2. Kiri Thode
    3. Tigo Kort
    4. Piero Rautnik
    5. Ercole Rosso-Chioso
    6. Lisa Kloster
    7. Leander Halm

Qualification 3

    1. Youp Schmit
    2. Foivos Tsoupras
    3. Jamie Howard
    4. Tim Gerdes
    5. Sebastian Gux
    6. Luka Stomp
    7. Manolis Chrysopoulos
    8. Fernando Sottile

Curious to see the entirety of this epic showdown? Check out the full livestream below:

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