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Master of the Ocean 2019 So Far

Four Water sports, One Champion.
In the disciplines of surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and SUP. Fly High and Surf while showing versatility, flow, style and power. That is the Master of the Ocean. All in the amazing Caribbean setting that is Cabarete, on the north shore of the Dominican Republic.

Day 1

The first day of the 15th annual Master of the Ocean event started with the Dominican Republic’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, Julio Almonte giving the opening speech. Mr Almonte enthusiastically welcomed everyone and praise the effort of the event organizers. He also made a commitment to bringing more support in the coming years for this event. The ministry of tourism has been heavy involved in helping make sure that this event brings a renewed sense of goodwill and support to the local community. They along with event organizers have brought in a new strong infrastructure that not only helps the contest it self, but also the local businesses and the surround area.

With new public access, electricity, security, public showers and restrooms. These new measures have helped draw more tourism and growth. Event founder Marcus Bohm then welcomed both spectators and athletes.
A great forecast is due for competitors this week as a new swell and wind pattern are in order. First heats of the event started with the surfing Qualifiers as the crowd on hand cheered the athletes entering the water. Waist to head high set rolling in made for playful, but action. Max Self, a local Dominican shot right out front at the beginning of the heat with some great rides and finished in first. Coming a close second was Tito de la Cruz also from the DR. Both riders advancing into the main event. As hard as Ariel Hernandez and Jean Carlos Moreno tried, they could not quite find a rhythm during the heat and thus finished third and fourth.

In heat two, Francis Gonzalez (DR), Naranjana Monfleur (DR) and Maarja Kivistik (Estonia) faced a bit more challenging conditions as the winds picked up and fewer cleaner waves could be found during the heat. Local knowledge played a key factor and thus helping Francis Gonzalez take the win and Naranjana Monfleur placing second.

The strong prevailing Caribbean trade winds moved in and at little before 2pm, they made the decision to start running the Overall windsurfing heats. Competitors rigged up and headed out in conditions that ranges from the mid 30’s to gusts up to 40 mph. In the first heat was Zane Schweitzer, local favorite Frederico Arias ‘Chivo’ and MacRae Wylde (Fiona Wylde Father). Zane was hot to defend his title which by the way, he has three (2016, 2015, 2014) of them. After breaking a sail, early on in the heat and coming in for a quick sail change, he still managed to out score fellow competitors to take the win. Chivo who came close to outscoring Zane, just fell shy and landed in second place. Wylde, undered powered the whole time, struggled to stay relevant and did manage to get some decent scores to round out third place.

As heats two through four of Round one of the Overall Windsurfing continued, the swell shifted and it became trickier to find those better waves throughout the remaining heats. Riders continued to try and hunt down the best sets in the Semi Finals as conditions became slightly better depending on which heat you were in. As the last heat of the day finished, you could see in the faces of the competitors that this was a day of “Man against man and man against nature” in the truest sense.

Day 2

The second day of the 2019 Master of the Ocean event started with an excitement in the air as event organizers began the early morning heats with the overall SUP competition. In heat one, defending champion Zane Schweitzer and MacRae Wylde paddled out in clean waist to shoulder high surf. Zane stuck first with a nice clean wave and proceeded to attack it from top to bottom. By the end of the wave, he had totally shredded it and the crowd on hand erupted in cheers. MacRae, unfazed by this, quickly countered with a good wave of his own. A duel ensued. The younger Zane was keen not to lose control of the heat and stayed ahead by skillfully picking the better waves and aggressively tearing them apart. As the buzzer sounded, the victory was all Schweitzer, and Wylde could hold his head high knowing that he had given it his all.   

Heat two of round one pitted Samuel Perez-Hults against Oscar de la Cruz, Brian Talma and Francis Gonzalez. Samuel and Talma jumped ahead with a wave apiece. Cruz and Gonzales each caught waves but could not get the points to advance. Talma snook ahead at one point in the heat and held on to the lead, but in the final minutes, Samuel managed to get the wave he needed to win the heat. As heat three paddled out into the lineup, which included Fiona Wylde, Brandon Stanford and Christopher Bünger, Fiona eyed some incoming sets and positioned herself in a key spot. Stanford, who is a keen surfer, spotted a good wave and proceeded to carve it all the way to the beach. Fiona waited for the bigger waves and the judges rewarded her accordingly which helped her advance in first place to the next round. Although Bünger managed to catch a few waves, could not quite find a groove to get the necessary points to advance, so Brandon held on to second place.

The final heat of round one included Lucian Gonzales, Maarja Kivistik and Franklin Mieses. As the waves shifted, competitors scavenged the lineup to find the cleaner, open faces and get those valuable points on the board. After what felt like the longest heat, Gonzales finished first with three good waves, Mieses in second and Kivistik in third.

Next up on the event schedule was prone surfing. In heat one Zane Schweitzer and MacRae Wylde were paired up. Both competitors were keenly aware of how quickly the conditions were changing and made adjustments throughout the heat. Short and quick sets made for a fast paced heat with Zane taking first and MacRae taking second. Heat two had Samuel Perez-Hults, Francis Gonzalez and Brian Talma weaving through the sets in the 15 minutes of allotted time. Each one of them scanning the horizon to best position themselves and score whatever waves provided them with points. Sammy took the heat win, with Francis in second and Brian rounding out third. Heat three made its way out to slightly better conditions with Brandon Sanford, Fiona Wylde and Christopher Bünger hitting the water. Brandon scored quickly and stayed ahead of everyone winning the heat. Fiona stayed active with a few good waves and landed in second, followed by Christopher in third.

The final heat of round one of the overall surf category included Luciano Gonzalez, Franklin Mieses and Maarja Kivistik. Luciano made the best of the heat taking first, followed by Franklin in second and Maarja in third. The judges met after talking with riders and decided that the finals of the B bracket of the overall SUP category should be run. Maarja Kivistik, Oscar de la Cruz, Francis Gonzalez and Christopher Bünger worked their way from one side of the competition area to the other in hopes of finding those magic waves to help take the win.

By noon, a riders meeting was held and overall kitesurfing heats would commence. Heat one began with Zane Schweitzer and MacRae Wylde going out. As the trade winds increased, many in the first heat opted to start farther north of the event site in hopes of catching better waves. Zane made a quick study of the conditions and stayed upwind. This strategy enabled him to catch the best waves of the heat and win it. MacRae, having had Zane in quite a few prior heats, stayed up with him and came in second. Samuel Perez-Hults, determined to win heat two, worked hard to align himself with the best waves and scored tops points in doing so. Francis Gonzalez, not fazed by Samuel’s flurry of activity, had a valiant performance and secured a second place win. Rounding out the results in third place was Oscar de la Cruz and in fourth was Brian Talma.

Heat three saw a heated battle between Brandon Sanford, Fiona Wylde and Christopher Bünger. Less than halfway through the heat, Fiona and Brandon tangled badly. Both riders had to eject their kites and swim in. The judges then made the call to redo the heat after heat four. Heat four had Luciano Gonzalez, Franklin Mieses and Maarja Kivistik. All three riders made the best out of the now shifting conditions and each of them caught decent waves, and in the end, turned out to be a very close heat. Luciano finished first, with Franklin in a close second and Maarja in third. Heat three redo brought a new sense of urgency between Fiona, Brandon and Christopher. Brandon struck first with a great wave that had him linking turns and that continued with his next few waves to secure the win. Christopher managed to get some great waves also and came in second. Fiona fought hard to stay in the mix and ended up in third.

Moving into the first semi finals was Francis Gonzalez, Franklin Mieses and Zane Schweitzer. Francis, made fast work of the heat and finished first while Franklin scored enough points to move into second and Zane into third. Semi finals number two had Luciano Gonzalez, Samuel Perez Hults,Christopher Bünger and MacRae Wylde. All four riders moved quickly to score points on the board. Luciano scored the highest totals and advanced to the finals. Sammy came in a super close second and MacRae landed in third.

With howling winds and some overhead sets rolling in, event organizers then decided to runs the finals of the overall windsurfing event. Zane Schweitzer, Brian Talma, Samuel Perez and Frederico bolted out onto the water as the starting horn blew. A flurry of backtloops and big airs followed as each of the riders attacked the waves. The large crowd cheered as each one of the competitors went from one wave to the next. Frederico pulled off one of the cleanest frontloops of the event and scored high marks. Zane, ever the showman, showed the crowd why he’s one of the top water athletes in the world. Samuel, not to be left behind, stayed right in the mix and caught some great waves. Brian “Action Man” did not disappoint either; he performed as good as they come with plenty of solid waves as well. The results for the overall windsurf will be announced at the awards ceremony.

Day 3

Day 3 of the 2019 Masters of the Ocean started with clear blue Caribbean skies that greeted competitors early in the morning. The first heats of the day began with the overall surf which included Brian Talma, Christopher Bünger and Maarja Kivistik. Christopher took off on the first wave of the heat and kept the pace high. He linked his turns and outscored fellow competitors on the bigger sets rolling in to finish first. Brian, who took second in the heat, had to work hard for his waves; it was like the ocean went flat around him. Maarja had no better luck and came in a disappointing third.

Semifinals of overall SUP heat one included Zane Schweitzer, Brian Talma, Fiona Wylde and Franklin Mieses Montain. Brian, having just finished the previous heat, was all warmed up and ready to begin again. Zane scored early on with good waves which helped him win the heat and advance to the finals. Brian snuck in a couple of keepers as well with flowing cutbacks which also propelled him into second and helped secure a spot in the finals. Fiona fought hard during the heat catching smaller, but more technical, waves and finished third. Franklin mostly kept to the right and did find a few peaks, but couldn’t quite get the waves he needed.

In Semifinals heat two of the overall SUP competition was MacRae Wylde, Samuel Perez-Hults, Brandon Stanford and Luciano Gonzalez. Brandon stuck to a game plan that work well for him and secured him first place in the heat. Both Luciano and Samuel shadowed each other in the heat, going wave for wave with each of them taking the lead for second place a number of times. As the final minutes finished, Luciano held onto second and Samuel came in third.

Contest organizers made the decision to run the first Semifinals of overall surf which included Zane Schweitzer, Francis Gonzalez, Brandon Stanford and Franklin Mieses Montain. All four surfers were keen to advance and moved throughout the lineup in a methodical way like chess pieces. Francis scored the first wave and looked as if he’d found the right spot for the better ones. Brandon caught a fantastic first wave that made everyone cheer from the beach. Zane held back, looking for bigger ones and was rewarded with a few that sealed his position in second place. Brandon found another great wave and ended the heat in first place. Franklin got some waves but they were not enough for him to outscore Francis who ended up in third place.

Heat two of the overall surf semifinals had MacRae Wylde, Samuel Perez-Hults, Fiona Wylde and Luciano Gonzalez. After watching the last heat, all four riders paddled to the North end of the competitor’s area in hopes of finding better waves selections. This turned to be a plus and minus for riders, better waves, but far less of them. Luciano, who has surfed this spot thousands of times, had the best read on the conditions and managed to rack up two good waves straight away. This left the other three scrambling to make do with whatever remaining waves came in during the heat. Knowing her dad was going to give one inch, Fiona stayed more on the inside and that strategy paid off with a second place finish. Samuel stayed clear of both Wyldes and came in third.

The overall SUP losers round then ran with Fiona Wylde, MacRae Wylde and Samuel Perez-Hults having just come out of the last heat that had been held. Franklin Mieses Montain, who was not in last heat, had a fresh set of legs and would try to use that to his advantage. Fiona was still warmed up and knew where to find the right ones and scored two top waves the kept her in the lead during the whole heat. Samuel had a few paddle battles with Franklin and managed to get the better of him which resulted in him finishing in second place. Franklin, who was not to be disheartened, switched strategies and finished third. MacRae was exhausted but in the end, still managed to catch a few decent waves.

The finals of the overall SUP division were up next as the midday sun blazed down on the athletes about to start their heat. The growing crowd cheered as Zane Schweitzer, Brian Talma, Brandon Stanford and Luciano Gonzales entered the water. From the beginning, you just knew that they were all going to put everything on the line. Luciano grabbed a quick score first, followed by Brandon. Brian moved out back and caught a bigger set wave to wow the crowd. Zane somehow managed to catch a wave that looked like it was going to close out, but somehow managed hit he lip of the wave and bust out the back fins of the board. This sent the crowd into a wildly excited state and fellow competitors all turned to see what had happened. This moved the dynamic of the heat a notch higher and Brandon, unfazed, moved quickly to catch a bigger wave that he went top to bottom on. Brian then moved in and secured a good scoring wave that was sure to help his two wave heat total. In the meantime, Luciano kept busy with at least three to four waves, trying each time to better the previous one. As the heat moved towards the final minutes, each of the riders moved to catch a few waves before the buzzer went off. Final results of this heat will be announced at the awards ceremony.

The second to the last heat of the day was the losers round of the overall surf division with Samuel Perez-Hults, MacRae Wylde, Francis Gonzalez and Franklin Mieses Montain. With the crowd pumped up from the last heat, it gave those riders in the water a bit of a mental boost. Samuel found a fun-sized wave first and got a high score right away. MacRae would not give up the fight and also caught a good sized wave that he worked all the way to the inside. Franklin saw a wave out back and desperately tried to paddle into to it, but came up a few strokes short. The lead changed hands a few times in between all four of them and at one point you wondered who was in the lead. By the end of the heat, Frances had taken first, samuel came a close second and MacRae finished in third.

The final heat of the day was the finals of overall kite division that included Francis Gonzalez, Samuel Perez Hults and Luciano Gonzalez. With all the riders already in the lineup as the buzzer went off, all three riders snagged a wave a piece. With such fast-paced action, it was hard to keep track of each of the riders. On a few occasions, all three competitors were on a wave and going turn for turn with fans of spray flying high. As soon as you took your eyes off one, you were quickly drawn in on another rider’s wave. Each one bolting back out back to catch the next wave with fierce speed and determination. Backside hacks, full frontal top to bottom turns and fins free drawn out power slides came and went quickly in the heat.

With such a blur of activity, it was anyone’s guess who was in the lead at any given point during the whole finals event. Everyone watching all agreed that this final was one for the books. As the horn blew for the last time and the three mighty warriors came in, a big round of applause erupted. Winners of this heat will be announced at closing ceremony.