Felix Volkhardt (Severne/Maui Ultra Fins) and Lina Erpenstein (Severne) win the first stop of the 2023 German Freestyle Battles at the Surffestival in Fehmarn! With a fleet of 58 athletes, this EFPT Proving Grounds Series event showcased that the Freestyle scene in Germany is alive and kicking! Two windy and action-packed days allowed both the mens and the womens fleet to finish a single elimination on the Baltic Sea. Check out the official highlight video and the full story below.
Like always, the Surf-Festival hosted the German Freestyle Battles in Fehmarn this year in order to show that Freestyle Windsurfing is more than alive amongst the youth. A novelty in 2023 is the cooperation of the GFB with the Freestyle Pro Tour, with the event becoming part of the EFPT Proving Grounds Series. Riders competing on the GFB will now also be ranked in the EFPT and will therefore kickstart their professional competitive career.
The entry list for the competition kept growing day by day, finally halting at 58 competitors. Although mainly attended by Germans, there were representatives from Poland, Denmark and the Netherlands as well. With such a large fleet and a limited event window getting a result would prove quite the challenge! Luckily the GFB is a well oiled machine under the supervision of Loris Vietoris (GA-Sails/Tabou) and Leon Struppeck (Sailloft/Tabou). With events on forecast run in remote locations throughout the year, they were well prepared for this weekend.
Voll(khardt) Power in the Men
On the third day of the event the wind finally filled in. The Single was kickstarted right away with some exciting heats. Wave rider Leon Jamaer (Gunsails) must have seen the FPT event in Cape Town and gained some confidence to enter the Freestyle. On his debut on the GFB he managed to beat Anton Munz with Loops, Shakas and Switch Chachoos during the 7 minute long heat. Further on in the ladder Lars Bubelach managed to take down wave rider Nick Spangenberg with a radical One Handed Flaka. It was close though, and it was once again confirmed that Wave and Freestyle are not as far apart as some might think.
Unfortunately the sun and wind ran out, and the competition was halted with 16 riders left standing. With one day left, fingers were crossed to get a result on the Sunday. Prayers were answered with 4.8 conditions to push through to the finals. Although not the conditions that the GFB would normally run in, taking pride in only competing when it’s proper windy, the riders decided to continue in order to get an official result.
Both standout riders, Julian Wiemar (Starboard/Severne) and Felix Volkhardt found themselves in the final. Their showdown was particularly exciting, with the lead going back and forth between the riders as the heat progressed. Expertly navigating the gusts in the competition area, river-windsurf legend Wiemar managed to pull ahead towards the end, leading by 3 points. Volkhardt was not ready to give up, and threw down a Kono on the buzzer, elevating his scoresheet above his opponents. Securing his first ever event win, Felix relegated Julian to second place, making him wait for another chance at winning in his already 10-year-long GFB career.
ErpenStyle in the Women
With 8 women signed up, the level was being pushed through the roof. Similar to the mens fleet, we also saw a wave windsurfer enter the draw. Lina Erpenstein shook up the ladder as all women were throwing down Switch Konos, Spocks, Shakas and Loops. Elena Dominick (Severne/JP) managed to beat Danish representative Melina Schütt, who didn’t mind being out as she was stoked to spend time on the water with so many freestyling girls around.
Lina “ErpenStyle” was not to be stopped. Beating Maike Lang and reigning GFB champion Johanna Rümenapp she met Dominick in the final. Filling her scoresheet meticulously with Spock variations, Loops and Grubby’s she claimed her first Freestyle event win.
On the Saturday evening, competition gave way for a Freestyle Super Session. Originally planned as a Tow-In show, the jetski gave way to some proper windsurfing. The best 8 German Freestylers got to show their craft in front of a massive crowd. Jannes Thomsen (Sailloft) impressed most, winning the session in front of Niclas Nebelung (Fanatic/Duotone/Maui Ultra Fins) and Foivos Tsoupras (Fanatic/Duotone/Maui Ultra Fins). On stage, Jannes said that he “had a lot of fun to sail a super session with friends in front of the crowds. I was excited to see so many people enjoying the show, and to win it in the end was a cherry on top of the cake!”
The next GFB events will be on forecast, so keep your eyes peeled for updates from a hopefully windy and flat-water-oriented event!