Lennart Neubauer (Starboard/Severne/Maui Ultra Fins) becomes the 2023 Freestyle European Champion at the last day of the EFPT Finals in Brouwersdam. Joined by now 5 times European Champion Maaike Huvermann (Severne/Maui Ultra Fins), the two brought an EFPT season full of exciting firsts to an end at the iconic location of Brouwersdam, the Netherlands. A true generational shift was witnessed at this event, not just in the title fight but also in the fresh faces breaking into the top ranking spots. Read all about this historical day on the Freestyle Pro Tour below.
With another early dawn patrol, the last competition day of the 2023 EFPT Finals in Brouwersdam was poised to create history. With the possibility of Steven Van Broeckhoven (Starboard/Gunsails) taking his 6th title at the age of 38, Lennart Neubauer taking his maiden title at just 19 and Maaike Huvermann set to potentially equal Van Broeckhoven in his title number, the day started with the conclusion of the single elimination. Left with only the top 4 in both fleets, southwest winds slowly built until the first green flag went up and the showdown was on.
In the women, Arrianne Aukes (Duotone/Maui Ultra Fins) had made it into the finals already, and was soon joined there by Maaike Huvermann who won against local up and coming star Maud de Bruijn. Huvermann showed off her competitive expertise and filled her scoresheet with some safe moves in the still quite tricky conditions. Aukes struggled to do the same and had to settle for second in the single elimination. In the runner-up final, Kloster found her groove back after a disappointing semi-final the day before. She took third and was now set for a chance to fight back up in the double elimination.
In the men’s single elimination semi-finals, Lennart Neubauer had a clear goal. If he managed to get into the final and Steven Van Broeckhoven wouldn’t, he would be guaranteed the European Championship. Yentel Caers (JP/NeilPryde) was probably the toughest opponent to do this against though, as the Belgian 2023 World Champion had his eyes on a solid podium spot on the European rankings as well. Caers put down the highest heat score of the event that far, with an Air Funnel Burner, Double Culo and a steezy Air Flaka Shaka amongst other world-class moves. Winning by a whopping 4 points, Neubauer now had a tall order to still get himself onto the top spot for the year.
This wasn’t helped by Van Broeckhoven’s success in the other semi. Taking out a hugely impressive Niclas Nebelung (Duotone/Maui Ultra Fins), he made it into an all Belgian final against Caers. Repeating his flow from the semi’s, Caers won the single elimination, in the process helping Neubauer, despite having hindered him in his title aspirations the heat before. This win turned out to be pivotal for him though, as he was now in the best starting position for the double elimination that was about to start, and would help him in the overall rankings.
With no time to loose, it was straight into the comeback round – the double elimination. All riders were now re-seeded based on their single elimination results and got a chance to fight back up. The 32 man fleet saw a plethora of exciting stories, as a true generational shift unfolded on the professional freestyle windsurfing scene. To name a few, we saw young local Tim Gerdes (Severne) dispatch of freestyle veteran and legend Nick van Ingen (Duotone), 14-year-old Leander Halm (Starboard/Severne) winning his first ever EFPT heat as well as Eugenio Marconi (Duotone) storming back up the ladder. Especially Marconi impressed, as he took out tour regular and freestyle superstar Sam Esteve (JP/NeilPryde) in the 4th round of competition. Another standout was Tim Ruyssenaars who got himself up to 9th, sharing the spot with established names on the scene like Felix Volkhardt (Severne/Maui Ultra Fins) or Foivos Tsoupras (Duotone/Maui Ultra Fins).
Soon the double was nearing its end, and it was two more heats before the 1-on-1 knock out phase started. With an all local battle between Tigo Kort (JP/NeilPryde) and Bodhi Kempen (Severne), the two were both winners regardless of who got the higher score. With this result they would both solidify their overall 2023 rankings, proving themselves as future title contenders. Kempen took the win in this exchange, and the 19-year-old finished in 5th overall for the season after a tough battle in crazy conditions with Jacopo Testa (AV-Boards).
Towards the middle of the afternoon, the forecasted storm winds finally arrived. As if someone flipped a switch, the wind surged from an average of 25 to well over 40 knots in a matter of minutes. With gear flying around the beach and riders rushing to rig down to their 3.6’s and 4.0’s, the excitement was now really building for the finals! The first heat in the crazy conditions was the above-mentioned matchup between Testa and Kempen. Both were struggling to assimilate to the heavy rain and 50 knot gusts, but it was 2022 European Champion Jacopo Testa who managed to tame the conditions to a greater degree, securing himself passage to the battle for fourth.
It was then that the impressively dedicated gathered crowds got treated to a once in a lifetime show. In what was a re-match of the single elimination semi-final, Testa was up against german powerhouse Niclas Nebelung. The strong winds suited the multiple German Freestyle Battles champion, as he went on to display the highest heat score of the entire event, by far…
Testa had to put down another event record breaking score to try and keep up, but in the end Nebelung won by over 3 points, breaking into the 41 point total heat score. Most impressive? His Double Air Culo that caught the crowd and judges off guard. Testa answered with his signature Shove-It Spock into Spock, stylish Kabi’s on both tacks and a Spock Culo, but to no avail. Nebelung proved that beating Testa in the single was not just luck, he is now a serious contender for the top spots at international events.
He now formed a real threat to the title aspirations of Neubauer. In their battle for third the wind backed off a little bit though, and the young greek’s experience with bigger sails paid off. Nebelung had to settle for 4th, but said afterwards that he felt extremely accomplished nonetheless as he was now a real contender in the top league. With this win, Neubauer also accomplished something else. Regardless of how to rest of the event would unfold, he now had secured his maiden Freestyle European Championship title. Starting the season over in Bonaire, where he was just coming back from injury, he could not have imagined this year to end this way. Winning a heat against Van Broeckhoven at Sorobon Beach in April and making it onto the podium next to Youp Schmit (GA-Sails/Tabou) was just the beginning of the realisation that Neubauer is here to dominate.
Continuing the season, at the EFPT Austria, he then showed he means business. Fending off a hungry Steven Van Broeckhoven multiple times he took the event win at the legendary Surf Opening on the Neusiedl Lake. With the EFPT Vieste closing off with no Freestyle result due to a lack of wind, it was all down to Brouwersdam, where he had now secured enough points to be safe from the 5x European Champion. Van Broeckhoven had to settle for second.
With the wind dropping off significantly after the storm front had passed, Yentel Caers won the 2023 EFPT Finals thanks to his win in the single elimination. This put him ahead of Jacopo Testa and onto the podium on the overall 2023 Freestyle rankings.
In the Women the wind also came short. There was still enough for a bit of a comeback in the double, with Janika Rayers (Gunsails) climbing up to 4th after winning with Maud de Bruijn in some crazy storm conditions. In the battle for 2nd, Arianne Aukes managed to beat Lisa Kloster again with a similar situation to the single elimination, where the wind was dropping off and Aukes’ competitive experience helped her gain the edge. With no more wind to sail the final, Huvermann kept her top spot and solidified her rankings to become the 2023 European Freestyle Champion. She was joined there by Lisa Kloster, who backed up her Brouwersdam score with an impressive third in Vieste earlier this year. In third overall, Oda Johanne Brodholt (Starboard/Severne) who sadly was absent in Brouwersdam.
That’s it for the 2023 European Freestyle Pro Tour season! Although there are still a couple of Proving Grounds Events to come (The Danish Open is currently on, as well as two more JWA Freestyle events over in Japan), the titles are decided, and everyone will be anxiously looking towards what the 2024 season will bring. One thing is for sure, there is a paradigm shift in the making on the Freestyle scene, and we can’t wait to see what the new generation of Freestyle talents will bring to the table now that Lennart Neubauer has shown what’s possible!
2023 EFPT Finals Brouwersdam Event Results:
|Event result||First name||Last name||Sailsponsor||Boardsponsor||Points|
|17||Piero||Rautnik||Hot Sails Maui||25|
|Event result||First name||Last name||Sailsponsor||Boardsponsor||Points|
|6||Yvet||van der Molen||100|