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Day 4 at the 2024 FPT Vieste: Neubauer wins Tow-In in Town

by Freestyle Pro Tour 25 May 20:58 BST
Lennart Neubauer was unbeatable in the final - 2024 FPT Vieste © PROtography Official

The only thing more spectacular than the scenery this morning was the action on the water. Having moved to the old town of Vieste for the Ferraro Group Tow-In in Town, the top 10 riders from the qualifying round got to battle it out for those coveted podium spots.

Lennart Neubauer (Starboard/Severne/Maui Ultra Fins) took the win with a beautiful Skopu Funnel, with Jamie Howard (Severne) in close second with a Skopu as well. Completing the podium was Bodhi Kempen (Severne) who stomped a perfect Double Culo in front of the picturesque views. After the final the wind picked up and a few Foilstyle heats were run, all the way up to the semi-finals.

Following a successful trial during last years edition of the FPT Vieste, the "Tow-In in Town" concept became competitive reality on the penultimate day. After a quick move across to the old town of Vieste, competitors had an epic arena at their disposal. Painting their moves into the breathtaking landscape of this unique Italian town, the top 10 from the qualification round all had high hopes for a podium spot.

Dudu Levi (FutureFly/Gunsails) qualified with an impressive performance, but unfortunately had to bow out of the final due to an ankle injury sustained yesterday. This left 9 riders in the running, with the favourite being Youp Schmit (GA-Sails/Tabou). The Bonaire rider achieved the highest score during qualification and is always a crowd favourite thanks to this impeccable style. Unfortunately Youp struggled to land his moves in the final, on one occasion even almost landing on the beach.

Another rider who will be disappointed with his result is Tigo Kort (JP-Australia/NeilPryde). The Dutch rider opened well with a powerful Culo, but did not manage to up his game as the final progressed. He does deserve praise though for attempting to do a Kono - a move that is very unconventional in Tow-In, especially on flat water. In the meantime, Brouwersdam colleague Tim Gerdes (Severne) tried to replicate his own success in the qualification round with another Burner 360, and despite doing it beautifully, did not score enough to make a dent in the point sheets.

It was double or nothing for Yentel Caers (JP-Australia/NeilPryde). All of his runs included a powerful second pop, but it became clear that the judges became desensitised to the magic of Air Funnel Burners. The move scored really well just 24 hours before, but it was not going to cut it anymore. Attempting to switch it up, Caers went for the much requested Air Bob Culo. Unfortunately he did not quite stick the landing, but if he had, it would've been rewarded generously for sure.

Looking for the judges' generosity as always, Tow-In showman Foivos Tsoupras (Duotone/Maui Ultra Fins) continued his journey off the beaten track. Crashing another Skopu, he was forced to do a safe move to at least fill his scorecard. With a flowy Air Flaka Shaka putting him right up the ranks again, he went for yet another Skopu attempt on his last run. Unfortunately to no avail, and the German had to settle for 5th place.

Despite not making it himself, Tsoupras definitely inspired the rest of the field. Kiri Thode (FutureFly/Gunsails) capitalised on that and landed the first Skopu of the final. It was probably one of the weirdest renditions of the move ever seen in competition, as the 2013 World Champion landed with one foot out of the strap, with his knee on the board. Miraculously recovering from it and adding a sail body 360 spin to underline his somewhat clean landing, he shot himself up to the top of the leaderboard. Thode's 8.33 Skopu opened the floodgates for the other riders, who now had to go all in to still get a shot at winning.

Opting to go regular stance only, Bodhi Kempen consistently improved his repertoire. Starting with a Culo, then a wet Double Culo to then finish with one of the cleanest Double Culo's we've ever seen in competition. With 8.67 points he still had to settle for 3rd, as two other riders still had the chance to replicate Tsoupras' strategy.

Jamie Howard did an 8 point Burner 360 on his second run and it was probably the fastest and most powerful rotation of the day. Still, with a bit of wind filling into the bay he managed to up his game and do a 9.33 Skopu. Getting extremely inverted, much more than is custom for a Tow-In version of this move, he shot himself into 1st place. It seemed to be over, as this was the highest score of the entire competition so far. This would be a logical assumption, if not for the fact that none other than Lennart Neubauer still had a run left.

The Greek 2023 European Champion had seen enough to know that Skopu's were feasible in the current conditions. He decided to spice it up by adding a Funnel to the end of it, demonstrating just how much speed he carried out of the first trick. With 9.67 points awarded he takes the win for the 2024 FPT Ferraro Group Tow-In in Town competition. Curious about all the action? Make sure to rewatch the entire finals stream below:

With the Tow-In completed, rumours began reaching the fleet that back at the Spiaggia Lunga the wind was picking up for some potential Foilstyle action. After a quick relocation it was finally time for George Grisley (Duotone) to take it up against Maaike Huvermann (Severne/Maui Ultra Fins) again. While still light, both managed to start filling their scorecards, and it was Grisley who took his debut victory in this discipline with an impressively high Shaka.

Into the next round, we started seeing heats worthy of the finals. With the level being so close in the fleet, anything could happen. Steven Van Broeckhoven (Starboard/Gunsails) has clearly been training and put down the highest heat score of the day against Bodhi Kempen. To do so, he landed a first in Foilstyle competition - a Kabikuchi. Adding a Pasko to the mix, the move that was dubbed the "cheatcode" for last years Foilstyle comp, Steven made it clear that he means business.

Another worthy of praise was Tigo Kort. The Dutchman sailed the best Foilstyle heat of his life by far. Putting in clean and solid moves, his heat would've likely granted him the final in 2023. Unfortunately for him, the opposition hasn't been sleeping. Lennart Neubauer had no mercy, and with a 7.95 point Shifty and a Pasko, he stopped Kort in his tracks. Neubauer has been on fire on the foil, being rumoured to have landed a fully planing Foilstyle Shifty just recently. Is he gunning for that 2024 title after missing out on it by a hair in the 2023 final?

The closest heat of the day must have been between Jamie Howard and Tim Gerdes. The two Severne riders were neck and neck throughout the entire duration of their heat. Gerdes took the win in the end, but Howard was incredibly close with a last minute Pasko attempt, which could've tipped the scales in his favour. In the following heat it was between 2023 Foilstyle champion Yentel Caers, and the discipline rookie George Grisley. Coming off the back of his first heat win, Grisley tried his best to keep up with the Belgian, but to no avail. With an exquisite Pasko, Caers took the win and secured his spot in the semi-finals.

During the heat the wind dropped significantly, and soon the AP flag was up, postponing the rest of the action. There are only 4 heats left to sail to finish the Foilstyle: the semi-finals, the runner up final and the final. With an anticipated early start tomorrow, you can expect some great action with your Sunday breakfast! In the meantime, make sure to relive the Foilstyle action from the stream below:

Tow-In Final Results:

1. Lennart Neubauer
2. Jamie Howard
3. Bodhi Kempen
4. Kiri Thode
5. Foivos Tsoupras
6. Yentel Caers
7. Tim Gerdes
8. Tigo Kort
9. Youp Schmit
10. Dudu Levi (DNF)

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