It was my birthday 2 weeks ago and I celebrated by completing my best workout of the year and most skillful negotiation; I dragged 6 checked bags through airports, and convinced the check-in girl it was only 2 sets of windsurf gear. I paid $300CAD for my excess luggage, for those of you not well versed in the value of loonies it translates to $225US – a steal!
I landed in Portland, squeezed all that gear in and on top of my rental Vagabond camper van and hit the road South and West on my annual pilgrimage to the IWT in Pistol River.
With 5 days before the event, I took the time to camp in the Oregon wilderness, living, surfing and sleeping out of the van. It was so refreshing to be in the rugged forests, rocky beaches and cold waters of the Oregon Coast. Some of you who follow me on in Instagram may have already seen through my stories how beautiful and calming it was for me to disconnect and live “off the grid” for a few days… 😛 😉
The International Windsurfing Tour Pistol River Wave Bash started on June 7th with great conditions, but from the South! The coast is predominantly Starboard tack, with North trade winds and thermals accelerating them. The unusual cloudy rainy weather brought South winds, and the head judge ran an expression session. There were waves and good wind for my 4.7, and although it was a wave event I took my freestyle board for the expression session, as I felt I could best “express” myself on my green baby. It was an hour long expression session, and I had so much fun mixing in Pushloops, Stalled Forwards, Paskos and other moves off the waves with some rides and tricks coming in that I forgot it was even a competition! The judges kept us on edge not announcing the result until the final Sunday of the event, June 11th. I was stoked to hear that I won!
Thursday, Friday and Saturday saw mostly cloudy and rainy weather. Anticipating the pro heats on the Sunday, I spent those days touring the coast, playing tennis with my brother and doing a few workouts to be prepared for the contest.
Sunday the wind kicked in, and during the pro heats I was riding my 4.7, 4.5 and 4.2m Sailworks Revolutions paired with my Starboard Kode 76. To be honest with you I struggled in the first heat, I got washed by so many waves and couldn’t get the rides I wanted. I was frustrated and it really felt like mother nature and the waves were fighting against me. I knew I lost that heat, and I definitely didn’t have any fun. Luckily the IWT runs a dingle elimination, giving me a 2nd chance against the others who lost their first heats.
So in the repitrage round (my 2nd chance), I felt like I found my groove and linked a solid performance to get me into the final. Sweet! Top 4, I’ve never finished top 4 in Pistol River before! I was excited and confident going into the final, and happy to see that the head judge added a jump to the scoring requirements. Fun! I went out 5 minutes early for my heat, but mother nature wasn’t having any of it. I got washed back onto the beach for 4 minutes before finally making it out with the other pros. I haven’t been washed so much by waves the entire week leading up to the event!
I had a slow first half of the 13 minute heat not scoring any good waves, and not finding any ramps for the jump. At the half way point I found a ramp for a Backloop which I managed to land as well as I can land them. That boosted my confidence, and I followed up with one of my 2 highest scoring wave rides. With 90 seconds to go I found a ramp for a big Pushloop which I landed right beside one of my competitors Morgan Noireaux. I was stoked with it! With tacked onto my last wave with only 10 seconds to go in the heat, and milked it until the wave and my board were on dry land!
I couldn’t believe when they announced the results that I got 3rd place! Yeeaaaahhh! In fact I even tied for 1st place on 2 of the 3 judge sheets!
Huge congratulations to the other guys in the final who are a wave sailing inspiration to me: Boujmaa Guilloul (Morocco, 1st place), Morgan Noireaux (Hawaii, 2nd place) and Russ Faurot (USA, 4th place).
I also want to congratulate my brother Tom Soltysiak for winning the Amateur division!
So although I had some scares and down moments during the event, I left with my best ever wave result!
I took the straps off my wave board that evening, packed it up, drove down to Rio Vista, CA the next day. I just finished strapping my slalom and freestyle boards. This coming weekend I’ll be competing against another group of pro riders at the Rio Vista Grand Slam, this time in freestyle and slalom! Yeah yeah, I can’t wait!