CABARETE, Dominican Republic - The last day of the Master of the Ocean event, which started off with some breeze creating choppy conditions for the last Team Surf Finals and the Surf and Stand-Up Paddle Expression Sessions in the morning, turned absolutely beautiful in the afternoon with loads of sun and a strong breeze to help along the Kite and Windsurf Expression Sessions.
As in previous days, music ranging from bachata and reggaeton in the morning to chill-out lounge beats in the afternoon supported fans on this last day of competitions, which also happened to be the Dominican Independence Day.
The Team Surf Finals saw Edual “Papito” Santana make the nicest moves on the waves, who came in at first for Team Christo Salva. Cabarete surfer Pedro Fernandez for Team LG, who also participated in the Surf Expression Session, came second with a front side air and highlighted the high level of riders this year, with everyone being just a few points apart.
Groups of normally eight riders make up the all popular Expression Sessions where riders compete against each other in just one category. More competitors showed up in the morning than had been inscribed so the event organized two heats for each category, where the best trick during both heats wins the session.
A group of eleven surfers, spread over two heats, showed a lot of skill and perseverance in the small but powerful waves. A third surf heat was organized for kids with the youngest one participating being five years old. The stand-up paddle expression sessions included in the line-up a lot of overall competitors Bahamas windsurf legend Brian Talma, team SUP second runner-up Dauri Reinoso and 2014 female Master of the Ocean title holder Fiona Wylde (Starboard, Werner Paddles).
The breeze that created less than ideal conditions in the morning picked up beautifully in the afternoon. An enthusiastic crowd at the competition area, which had moved from Encuentro to Cabarete Bay for the freestyle kite and windsurf sessions, grooved to some chill-out beats surrounded by kites and windsurf equipment scattered along the beach. A crazy amount of cameras, ranging from telephone cameras to GoPros to super professional all tried to get the best shots.
The Kite Expression Session was split into two, one for the girls and one for the guys, with a lot of handle passes, grabs and air on show. The Windsurf Expression Sessions showed the extremely high level of competitors with lots of front and back flips as well as 360s.
Left to right: Fiona Wylde (3rd), Zane Schweitzer (1st), Samuel Perez Hultz (2nd). | Photo Courtesy: Master of the Ocean
At the end of the day, the moment everyone had been waiting for throughout the event had finally come: the award ceremony where fans would find out who had won the different Expression Sessions, which team came first in the team Master of the Ocean effort and which world class water athlete would be crowned the true Master of the Ocean.
Before the awards were given out, however, two important messages were communicated. Firstly Israeli contestant Omri Hazor came forward with a message of peace and hope saying that he really enjoyed his first participation at the Master of the Ocean event and that next year he hoped to come back with a team of Israeli and Palestinian surfers to promote peace and hopefully help with the peace process there.
The second message was one of humanity and fairness. Windsurfing legend Brian Talma, who has been on a mission for the past year with his Beach Culture World Tour to promote fair play, respect and positive interaction among and by riders, had asked all Master of the Ocean riders to nominate four athletes who had distinguished themselves in this event by being outgoing, respectful and helpful to other riders. Brian was proud to award Starboard SUP athlete Zane Schweitzer, who was voted among his peers as being the most fair-play guy, with the fairness award in the form of a coconut plant and 500USD. “This is a great honor”, Zane said happily. “This is what it’s all about: being passionate about what you do and enjoying it with everyone.”
Race Director JJ Walsh kicked off the actual award ceremony by first thanking the locals for letting them invade their beach for the last few days and embracing all the participants with so much love and respect. “A place is only special because of its people, and Cabarete is one of those special places.”
The Future Master of the Ocean Award was given to Max Self, who along with six others kids showed off some great skills in the Kids Surf Expression Session this morning. Local kiters Georgina and Chase won the female and male Kite Expression Sessions.
Favorite local athlete Samuel “Sammy” Perez Hults won the Windsurf Expression Session Award with a kick-ass front loop. The female Surf Expression Session was won by Narayana from Venezuela and German 19 year-old athlete Arne Bergwinkl won the male Surf Expression Session by landing a front side air reverse. Overall competitor and 2014 Master of the Ocean Zane Schweitzer won the Stand-Up Paddle Expression Session.
2015 is also the first year when teams could compete for the Master of the Ocean title, with each of the four team members contending in one category. In total six teams competed with team members giving their all to win in their particular category. The best team in 2015 was Team Terminator with on board Omri Hazor for SUP, Brandon Sanford for surf, Emmanuel Rondon for kite and Franzi Fix for windsurfing. Team mates especially congratulated Franzi for “killing it in windsurfing with his amazing jumps”.
All overall competitors at this edition of the Master of the Ocean were congratulated for their stamina and strength as “it’s everything but easy to battle wind, water and sun twelve hours a day for four consecutive days and still be smiling and supportive of one another”.
Among loud applause and whoops 2014 female Master of the Ocean title holder was awarded third place in the winner line-up. “It’s been great to compete with the guys, which is something that doesn’t happen every day”, said Fiona. “It feels really good and it shows that girls can rip it too, although the most important part is to all have fun and we definitely had that these last few days.”
The local crowd went crazy when local boy Samuel “Sammy” Perez Hults was announced to be second in the winner runner-up. “It wasn’t easy getting into the finals, so I’m really proud to be second”, Sammy highlighted. “Next year I’ll come again, and the next and the one after that, for as long as I can.”
More applause and definite good vibes surrounded the final announcement of the 2015 Master of the Ocean. Amazing stand-up paddler, surfer and windsurfer Zane Schweitzer hauled in the title for the second consecutive year, highlighting the extremely high level of this water athlete. Zane congratulated both Sammy and Fiona on their achievements and emphasized how “the ocean is life bringing together all of us fantastic people”. “Thank you as well to the team that made all of this happen; last year it was a spark, this year it’s about to blow. You guys are the bomb!”
Background information on Master of the Ocean:
Created by German waterman Marcus Bohm in 2003, the Master of the Ocean was originally conceived as the “Ironman of Water Sports”. The competition features a maximum of 12 teams of four athletes per team (one for every discipline) and a maximum of 16 overall athletes who master all four disciplines, with all competing for the Master of the Ocean title.
The idea behind the event is to provide an opportunity for Dominican and Dominican resident athletes to compete side by side with international professionals. Cabarete was chosen as the best playground for this event as it boasts ideal conditions almost year-round for watersports.
More information about this event on www.masteroftheocean.com
Thank you to the sponsors of Master of the Ocean 2015: Delta Airlines, Dakine, Europcar, Powerade/Dasani, Ultravioleta Boutique Residence, Millennium Resort & Spa, CCN Orgullo de mi Tierra, Solarium, Serviport