So the season ended, I spent a few days at home to surf, relax and spend time with the family that I hardly ever see and was off again. This time to Warsaw to try to rescue my university situation. I got expelled before the summer as the last time I was there, was in January – too much, even for individual rules of studying!
I managed to convince them to take me back, promised I’d be attending more (yeah, right! when???), managed to already schedule some exams and drove 3 hours off the coast already when my cell beeped. “Wavecamp Pipeline Pro contest will happen tomorrow. More info soon” the text message said. I didn’t have to think for long. I took the first exit of the highway (yes, we do have highways in Poland – not much, but still haha), turned around and went back where my place is – the coast J.
I believe we owe everybody an explanation of the name of the event. Wavecamp.pl is a company organizing wave and freestyle camps around Europe and they organized the event as well. The spot is called Pipeline not having anything to do with the Hawaiian Banzai or it’s perfect barrels. It’s just that it’s close to Wladyslawowo harbor and it’s full of pipes everywhere, so the name came alive kind of by itself. The spot is really good for riding – it’s basically the most northerly point of Poland so it collects the most Baltic swell out of all the spots and throws a few really punchy, fun sections for tricks, but you can also connect a wave with 4-5 frontside turns. For jumping is a bit worse as there’s not so much wind on the inside, but if you get a good ramp you can fly, too.
I arrived there after spending the whole previous day in the car for no reason (driving back and forth) and what I found was highly frustrating. 9 degrees Celsius, 12 knots and not even half a meter waves breaking directly on the sand. But forecasts where promising for the afternoon so I told myself to stay patient and see what happens. And what happened was, once the wind swung side, side-on, the swell that was in the middle of the Baltic for the whole night aleready, started to get pushed in. So within 2 hours it went from shite, to 25 knots and 2 meters. First heats start running around 1pm with 12 minutes duration and 1 jump and 2 waves to count.
Right from the start you could see who was gonna go all the way. Robert Baldyga nailed a big frontside air on his first wave and followed with massive backies and 1-handed backies. The Ezzy/Quatro rider showed that he could do some damage even on the PWA tour, if it wasn’t for the fact that he keeps drawing Philip Koster in round1. In general the level was huge for polish standards. Both in the air and on the wave the skillset seemed to go up a lot since I last competed, and I was getting nervous if I’m even gonna make it thru the first round! The other reason I was nervous was that I haven’t sailed waves in over 2 months and injured my ankle before PWA Sylt, so not only I wasn’t in the groove, but also didn’t know if my body is gonna hold up.
So I went out for my first heat and right on the first run I crashed both a backloop and a stalled forward. Oops! Back to the beach, one more try and landed a smaller stalled forward just to be safe and focus on the waves. The tactics seemed to pay off as I found 2 nice, connecting waves with several frontisde turns and hits and I was thru. Rotated thru a taka as well, but somehow the wave just disappeared on me and I went out back. The wind started to back off a little and turn more and more onshore making the current stronger and stronger, which made things more and more difficult. Robert kept shining but the rest started to struggle.
I had a really bad 2nd round heat, but it turned out that I was the only of the 4 guys that actually landed a jump. I pumped onto the plane and did a tiny backloop haha and managed to get a 2nd wave in the dying seconds as well so it was enough, eliminating “mr. Polish Warmup” Nikodem Merlak, who sails really good these days and I have to say I was kinda scared before facing him. Already in the semifinal I felt like I need to do something special, otherwise there’s no way I’m gonna advance with my far-from-perfect jumping. So I picked the best wave I could find and went for a frontside 360 – and of course didn’t make it. Sooo damn stupid, wasting the best wave of the heat! After that I got so pissed I was way more aggressive on the waves and went for a really big stalled forward, which I stalled to much and landed straight on my nuts – still a few points on the scoreboard and too my amazement I somehow passed to the final.
There I would really have to go bananas to win, as Robert was just so consistent and with the current somehow managed to stay right in front of the judges every time, where I was doing a sprint up the beach every heat, or twice every heat. So on the first run I went for a table forward, which I used to have pretty dialed a few years back. Well, I guess past doesn’t really matter as I did the tabletop completely wrong and on top of that was like 1meter above the water surface so there was absolutely no way to finish the move.
The previous heats I would get another jump opportunity, but not this time and I had to save myself with a shove-it out the back, as that was the only place I could get on the plane. Meanwhile I saw Robert flying around just not noticing how light the wind was. I managed to get my probably best wave of the event in the final, but it was really on the edge of the competition area, so really far away from the judges. Anyway I won on the waves, but my jump was so bad that Robert won by a fair few points.
It’s kind of funny, because I’m competing against this guy since 2002, when I joined the national formula tour – he was already there since 2 years or so, and I replaced him in the “mascot” seat as we were both so young. He was always the super-talented competitor, and I was the one behind him working hard and feeding off his great performances (won 2 Youth World Formula titles – in 2006 in front of my brother Leszek and in 2007). After he quit formula, we had a final in the Quiksilver Wave Session event in 2010. There I came super-close to beating him, but came up half-a-point short and now we had another final and he beat me again. This really gives me the motivation to work on my jumping and try to make it hard for him next year in hopefully another final, or maybe in some kind of an international event..
Anyhow, 3rd place went to mr. Wavecamp and one of the organizers of the event Maciek Kapuscinski, who was flying probably the highest and 4th to Przemek Krzycki who was looking for a double forward every heat, landing countless planing forwards and riding waves with some nice flare.
All in all it’s super cool to see that you can organize a successful event in 24 hours and even have TV coverage! The level is growing every year and the judging is getting better and better so I cant wait for another event like that next year! Thanks to all the organizers sponsors and everybody who faced the cold and hard conditions on the water!
Maciek Rutkowski POL-23