Press release: KTA Media
Images: Alexandru Baranescu
The 2017 TwinTip:Racing Asian Championships came to an end yesterday, with plenty of racing action in all divisions. Run for the first time completely in the event format which will also be used in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina when kiteboarding will make its Olympic debut, the youth riders showed that they can beat most of the open men and women competitors.
The slalom/boardercross format requires equipment control and technical skills more than anything else to achieve top speeds and controlled jumps over the floating obstacles. This puts equipment choice into the background, making this event especially affordable for the emerging and developing nations. After 5 days of intense racing, the leaders went into the final day with only marginal leads, any mistake could change the podium positions especially in the hard fought boys division where Philippines Christian Tio had a triple handicap by competing in the boys, open mens, and freestyle divisions of the event. The 15 year old surely had the most kilometers in his legs at the end of the week !
With winds blowing in our favour from mid-morning onwards, the final day of competition kicked off with energy and high expectations in equal parts. The racers were split into different fleets than the previous few days, going from fleets of 8 to fleets of 15 on average. It made for an interesting turn of racing stats, as suddenly different names from the top contenders were pitted against each other for the first time this week. Although we have come quite accustomed to seeing the likes of Yo and Atte chasing each other up and down the race course, it’s been seldom we’ve seen Atte Kappel and Christian Tio battling it out at the front of the pack.
Similarly we saw fellow Thai, Praphan Thongnak up at the front of the fleet giving Asian Champion Yo Narapichit Pudla a run for his money on a number of occasions. Even in the final day of competition nobody’s fate was certain. Nobody’s fate, that is, except for 16 year old Jingle Chen from China, who didn’t falter from her top position in a single heat this week. When she casually hopped off her board at the shore break after effortlessly leaving the rest of the women’s fleet trailing behind her, she smiled with ease and explained that in fact, it wasn’t as easy as it looked- foiling has been her main focus over the past few months and to ride a twin tip again feels very challenging- especially given the level of her competitors. Well, Jingle, your modesty matches your skills.
Once all the races came to a close, 30 or so kiters took to the water for the long awaited end of week expression session. A huge crowd drew around the edge of the bleachers and spilled out onto the sand, every set of eyes captivated by the pack of riders jumping, spinning, and pulling out every trick you can imagine- however unpolished it might have been it was a genuine show of expression, that’s for sure.
While kiteboarding moves gradually further and further down the Olympic path, we often find parallels drawn between our sports. For most of the parts kiteboard racing is closely aligned with the world of sailing, but here is where the difference lies- in the core of the sport, in the spirit of the riders in the last hours of a week-long competition, in the expression session, where everyone is coming together to share the water, the wind, the sun in a friendship way, put all competition aside.
With the expression complete the riders finally made their way from the beach to prepare themselves for the awards ceremony and final closing party. Again sponsored and prepared by our very hands on title sponsors Moose Cider. It’s been great working with these guys and to see new support from them coming into our sport. It was a tired, but happy crew of riders, officials and event team that gathered for the awards at the atmospheric site of Wilburland for the final bash. The awards were led by TV presenter Grace Austin and MC Reo Mendoza who brought the summary of the week together and presented the winners to the assembled crowds of supporters.
IKA Technical Director Markus Schwendter then closed the formal proceedings with the motivating speech that confirmed that everyone had played their part in consolidating the Youth Olympic race format choice was a good one.
The week had played out perfectly on that score, some lessons learned and adjustments made for sure, but in the end we have our first Kite Olympic race been an overwhelming success, so it’s ‘onwards and upwards from here on in until 2018 with the next two major competitions in Italy (European Championships) and Korea (World Championships giving the riders another important testing ground on their way to the Qualifier Events beginning of 2018.