It's the second day of competition at the fourth stop of the kiteboarding World Tour in Sotavento and The Canary Island have not failed to live up to their reputation of producing consistently strong winds. The first few heats averaged 25 knots and it steadily built up to 35 knots providing the last riders on the water with strong conditions.
The big news of the day was the live stream operating from the judge's tower. For the first time in PKRA history people from all over the world followed the event live, were able to comment on the chat room and also see updates of the winners through the live results system. The connection speed on the beach remains a difficulty but this was an exciting first try and PKRA hopes to improve the system for better streaming quality in the future.
Today was the first part of the single eliminations, head judge Sami Gali commented: ' It was an unsurprising set of men's heats, Youri Zoon (NED, Slingshot) and Alex Pastor (ESP, Airush) were particularly impressive.'
The controversial heat of the day was between Tom Herbert (FRA, North) and Michael Schitzhofer (AUT, Best) they split the judge's decision however Herbert made it through with three votes to two.
PKRA had a chance to meet up with Tom after his heat, 'The wind is stronger on the outside than the inside (closer to the beach) so everyone is wondering what kite to take, from 7 to 10 meter. But once you're on the water it's actually better to be overpowered since the judges want to see power tricks with clean landings. Also a new rule made things harder for us in these conditions as our kites are not allowed to touch the water after landing our tricks, but the kites are smaller and faster so it's very difficult?'
The French team hanging out at the equipment tent were all impressed today by Mario Rodwald's (GER, North) clean and powerful riding. He landed a front mobe to blind in every heat whilst competing in gusty conditions. Mario beat Louis Hutter (FRA, F-ONE) and Alvaro Onieva (ESP, Slingshot) in the second round.
Thomas Paris (FRA, North) also noticed a difference in the today's riding, 'We used to see a lot more kiteloops in strong winds, it was as if we couldn't do anything else. Now it's all about the power moves and how technical you can be whilst maintaining a clean landing.'
In the second round it became hard to tell who would get through as the best riders (who were automatically fast tracked into the competition) were battling it out. Everyone's eyes were on Youri Zoon (NED, Slingshot), who currently leads the tour, he was doing his signature combos: landing tricks one after another with style, power and consistency. A lot of riders on tour describe Youri as the perfect man to be the World champion. Not only does he represent the sport the way they want to see it, but he also does so with charisma and a smile.
As for the new generation of riders, Liam Whaley (ESP, Airush) has been making a big impression on the top competitors. They can see him as a strong contender in the future, but for now (aged 14) his weight and body power put him at a disadvantage when he attempts to do the same tricks as other riders.
For the same reasons the girls must use smaller kites, this makes it harder for them to keep control whilst maintaining power like the top male athletes. Today the girls were riding on 5 meter kites and the men were on 7's. Bruna Kajiya (BRA, Flexifoil) had a good day on the water, she was basically training for tomorrow where she will start the day against one of her strongest competitors; Polish rider Karolina Winkoska (POL, Slingshot). Meanwhile World Champion Gisela Pulido (ESP, Airush) secured her heat with powerful moves and then entertained the public with some old school high jumps.
You can follow this heat tomorrow on the PKRA live stream with a first possible start set for 11.30 am.
The Fuerteventura Grand Slam is sponsored by the Canary Islands, the Island of Fuerteventura, Playas de Jandia, René Egli center, The Hotel Melia Gorriones, Cabrinha, NeilPryde, Surf Magazine and Fuerte Action.
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