PWA Logo

PWA Event Summary


Date: 30. Mar. - 06 Apr. 1999
Location: San Carlos - Baja / MexicoBaja Logo 99
Status: Grand Prix
Discipline: Wave
Prizemoney: 50.000 $


Thanks to Daniel Gallet for the following pictures !

Please visit his website at


A long way to San Carlos...

On 30th March 1999 32 of the world’s best wave sailors will converge on Southern California, USA, to begin a windsurfing journey into the unknown. The 32 sailors have been selected for the Professional Windsurfers Association’s (PWA) most daring wave sailing adventure ever - The O’Neill PWA Baja Wave Classic.

The raw uncomprising conditions of the Baja peninsular must be treated with utmost respect and the PWA has left no stone unturned to ensure that this competition pays due respect to the environment and the people that make Baja such a special place.

Baja 99 / Pic1After arriving in California from the four corners of the world the PWA sailors will load tonnes of windsurfing gear into a 20-strong fleet of high suspension off-road vehicles and head south in convoy towards the tiny Mexican border town of Tijuana. Once over the border and into Mexico the road becomes more treacherous and remote, and the harsh beauty of the Baja desert hits you full in the face.

A 20 hour road trip will take the PWA crew through some of the most inhospitable backcountry. A single road winds its way south, only kept clear of obstruction by the occasional vehicle. Steep ravines and drop-offs will test even the most experienced driver, until finally the convoy arrives at the sailing location of San Carlos.

This tiny patch of windsurfing paradise, over 2 hours from the nearest town, was first discovered by Californian surfers searching for waves and wilderness away from the crowds of home. San Carlos has remained true to the ideals of these early adventurers and the O’Neill Wave Classic will run in sympathy with these attitudes and beliefs.

Living conditions will be different to any other PWA event, with all sailors required to meet with a strict set of conditions to avoid any environmental impact. Apart from equipment, the PWA fleet will be loaded with enough food, water, fuel, cookers, generators, emergency medical supplies for ten days - and enough bags to ensure that any packaging returns. All San Carlos has to offer is raw beauty, clean fresh air, deadly wildlife, a starboard tack and its legendary wave!

If you drive for 20 hours through the desert you’d expect something at the end of it. San Carlos doesn’t disappoint. Prevailing cross offshore breezes help to give clean wave faces and a long point break wraps along the beach, giving one of the longest breaks imaginable. In short, epic conditions, well worth the drive.

The FleetBaja 99 - Pic2

To minimise the impact of the competition on the location - and in common with all Wave Classics - the fleet has been reduced to 32 top sailors.

With Maui sailors favoured by Baja’s starboard tack, all eyes will be on injury-plagued Jason Polakow, now two times World Wave Champion. Kevin Pritchard narrowly missed a World Championship title in 1998, but his sailing stature continues to grow and his determination will be high to achieve a good result. Matt Pritchard is, like brother Kevin, no stranger to San Carlos and is one of the few sailors who will be seeking to take maximum advantage from his local knowledge of the break.

Meanwhile, Bjorn Dunkerbeck, 11 times World Champion, will be looking for an opportunity to re-stamp his authority on a wave ranking which has eluded him for the last two years. Young Argentinian sailor Francisco Goya will be a natural focus of attention, given his Latin roots and soulful past performances in O’Neill Wave Classic.

Young sailor Levi Siver, seen by Maui locals as a future force in the sport, will be looking for another chance to crack his way into the PWA rankings, after lack of wind squandered his Wild Card entry at Sylt.

As seems to be the norm, as soon as a PWA event arrives at a location, the
weather differs from its usual pattern. During the event a few low pressure systems rocked through Baja, causing heavy down-pour. It is usual for low pressure systems to hit the San Carlos area at this time of year however, it is very unusual to have two such systems in the space of three days.

Luckily as it hit during the night it had as good as passed by the morning
and the wind began to fill as the land began to heat up once again.

ShowdownBaja 99 - Pic3

In the final stages of the event the swell was continuing to build and expectations were high that the swell and the wind would combine to give the competitors an epic show-down in the final stages of the O'Neill Baja Wave Classic.

The last day turned out to be the best of the event. Although the competitors awoke to no wind, gradually it filled in and the swell rose with the incoming tide. So by mid-morning they were all set for competition to began again.

As time was running short the judges split into two panels and two man on man heats were run at the same time.

Going through from the second half of the second round were Jason Stone USA-7, Scott McKercher KA-181, Kevin Pritchard US-3, Robby Seeger G-307, Peter Volwater H-24, and Robert Teriitehau F-2000. The story from the second round was the early elimination of Josh Stone USA-6 while his younger brother Jason continued through.

In the third round, despite an injury, Vidar Jensen N-44, managed to hold of a strong challenge from Scott Fenton KZ-1, while Jason Stone USA-7, beat Scott McKercher KA-181. Kevin Pritchard US-3, made up for his poor
performance in the first half of the elimination and beat Robby Seeger
G-307, and Robert Teriitehau F-2000, produced yet more outstanding wave sailing to see off the challenge of Peter Volwater H-24.

In the next round, Anders Bringdal S-10, was beaten by Vidar Jensen N-44 and Matt Pritchard US-10, put an end to a superb run of wins by Jason Stone USA-7. Brian Talma KBA-8 was beaten by Kevin Pritchard US-3, and Fransisco Goya A-211, sent Robert Teriitehau F-2000 back to the beach after yet another tight heat.

The fleet was then reduced to N-44 Vidar Jensen, US-10 Matt Pritchard, US-3 Kevin Pritchard and A-211 Fransisco Goya, all fighting for the opportunity to challenge K-66 Nik Baker and USA-0 Levi Siver currently lying 3rd and 4th after the single elimination.

Vidar Jensen N-44, was finally beaten by Matt Pritchard US-10 and Kevin
Pritchard US-3, saw off Fransisco Goya A-211. Matt then powered past, up
and coming PWA sailor, Levi Siver USA-0 and Nik Baker K-66 eventually put an
end to Kevin Pritchard's come back.

The quarter-final show down between Nik Baker K-66 and Matt Pritchard US-10,
produced some of the best sailing at the event so far with Nik finally
getting the better of the telented young American. Nik appeared inspired by
this performance and went one better knocking out Bjorn Dunkerbeck E-11 in
the semi-final, to assure him a place in the final versus 1999 PWA Wave
Champion, Jason Polakow KA-1111.

The final began at 6 pm and the wind and waves held on just long enough to
allow Jason Polakow KA-1111, to showcase his wave riding skills and defeat
Nik Baker K-66 finally lifting the O'Neill Baja Wave Classic Title.

The conditions for the last day had been up to mast high with some of the
sets well over mast high - simply epic conditions in an epic environment -
the trademark of all PWA Wave Classic events.

When the competition had come to and end, the wind and waves died as the sun
began to dip behind the hills, sailors started to pack up, ensuring that no
evidence of their trip was left to spoil the stunning Baja scenery. Once
packed, sailors began to head for home, dreaming of hot baths, cold beers,
TV and all the trappings of life a million miles away from the unique
uncluttered peaceful atmosphere of Baja. The O'Neill Baja Wave Classic had
been a great adventure, hard at times, but well worth it. The PWA sailors
feel privileged to have been able to compete in such a special place and
thank all those that have made the event possible. 

Once packed, sailors began to head for home, dreaming of hot baths, cold beers,
TV and all the trappings of life a million miles away from the unique
uncluttered peaceful atmosphere of Baja. The O'Neill Baja Wave Classic had
been a great adventure, hard at times, but well worth it. The PWA sailors
feel privileged to have been able to compete in such a special place and
thank all those that have made the event possible.

PWA - Baja Wave Classics
Men's Final Results

1. Jason Polakow KA-1111
2. Nik Baker K-66
3. Bjorn Dunkerbeck E-11
4. Matt Pritchard US-10
5. Kevin Pritchard US-3
5. Levi Siver USA-0
7. Fransisco Goya A-211
7. Vidar Jensen N-44
9. Jason Stone USA-7
9. Anders Bringdal S-10
9. Robert Teriitehau F-2000
9. Brian Talma KBA-8

History of the O'Neill Wave Classic

The first O'Neill Wave Classic was held in Namotu, Fiji in May 1997 and immediately set the standard for the world's premier wavesailing performance. O'Neill's US$50,000 prize money purse was contested over 10 days in what was described as 'the best wavesailing competition of all time'.

The second O'Neill Wave Classic announced a stronger presence in Australia for O'Neill - another spectacular location with epic conditions. Esperance is 700 kilometres from Perth, on a remote section of coastline, called 9 Mile Beach, a thin strip of pure white sand washed by the translucent, soft turquoise waters of the Great Australian Bight. Once over, 15 of the world's top windsurfers stunned by the beauty and conditions in Western Australia changed flights home, cancelled photoshoots and in one case missed the birth of a child to embark on a two week long roadtrip, 'The Quest' for secret locations, wind, waves and the perfect ride.


ęSSM Freesports unless credited as source: SSM/Dan Atkins

Last updated: 16.05.99