KITE MASTERS WORLD TOUR 2009 - DAYS 1 AND 2
The third annual Kite Masters World Tour 2009 kicked off to a flying start at Praia de Alvor on 25th July. The much anticipated event erupted with a thrilling display of speed and power courtesy of the PKRA racers who participated in the third annual Kiteboard Course Racing World Tour 2009.
Onlookers from the beach were greeted by blissful weather conditions as the event took off from the starting line at approximately 2:00 pm. The wind kept itself relatively quiet during the first two races but made an underlining effort to fuel the race later after the 45-minute break for the third and final race of the day, which concluded at 5:00 pm. With the final race only taking 17-minutes compared to the 23-minute first race opener, wind speeds were clearly getting progressively faster and allowed most of the competitors to switch down one kite size for the final race as opposed to using the 15m / 16m kites they started with.
Cabrinha’s Bruno Sroka (FRA) proudly led the race after day one and brought the crowd to their feet. The French racer is making a comeback after taking a break from last year’s racing events and it looked like the extra rest did Sroka some good after he dominated all three races with convincing victories. Sroka had clearly been busy training and has worked very hard on his board and speed during the off-season. Things unfortunately didn't run as smoothly for defending champion Charles Deleau (North, FRA) after he got off to a rocky start after losing his luggage and was forced to race on borrowed gear. American Jesse Richman, another Cabrinha rider held the second place spot at the end of day one while North’s Sean Farley (MEX) completes the top three.
On the women’s side, Steph Bridge (GBR) of North Kiteboarding once again dominated all three races, even beating many of the men, since both men and women started at the same time. Fabienne D’Ortoli (FRA) riding with a Naish kites ranked second overall after day one and was shortly followed by Kari Schivebaag (NOR) of Ozone.
After the races, the competition switched over to the Kite Masters freestyle events where 12 men’s heats and 4 ladies heats were completed. In the men's division within group 1 Sebastian Garat (RRD, FRA) currently has 4 points while Abel Lago has 2 points. In group 2 Michael Schithofer (Naish, AUS) and Jesse Richman (Cabrinha, USA) each have 1 point while Danilo Nacarato has 2 points. In group 3 both Alberto Rondina (Cabrinha, ITA) and Gonçalo Gomes each have 2 points and finally in group 4 both Kevin Langeree (Naish, NLD) and Charles Deleau (North, FRA) each have 2 points.
In the women's heats within group 1 Karolina Winkoska (Naish, POL) and Marilou Lavale each have 2 points and also with 2 points each in group 2 are Jalou Langeree (Naish, NLD) and Steph Bridge (North, GBR).
The first day’s events concluded at around 7:00 pm and other than a slow rise in wind speed that only hit its peak by the final race, the first day of the Kite Masters World Tour was undoubtedly a success.
Sun was replaced by a light drizzle on the morning of the 26th June 2009 and the second day of the Kiteworld Masters World Tour but the rain clouds soon floated far into the distance. Overcast skies dominated the first half of the day with onshore winds which made the temperature seem quite chilly compared to the past few days.
The scheduled riders meeting of 1:00 pm went right on time and the start of the 4th race happened at around 2:00 pm which according to race director Olaf Van Tol, “Turned out to be a good decision because we had a good window of an hour with wind.” And with these onshore winds, crowds were witness to the spectacle of 35 kites jockeying for position very close to the observing beach. The first race was completed without incident signalled a wind shift which continued to grow and forced the race director to announce a lunch break before the next race. The second race of the day (Race 5 of the event) got underway at around 4:15 pm. The wind decided to cause more controversy after dying down and allow only nine guys and one lady the pleasure of crossing the finish line, with many competitors having to be rescued in the waters. After much discussion on the beach about the validity of the second race due to less than 50% of the competitors finishing, it was decided the race would stand since the PKRA is now operating under ISAF/IKA racing rules.
Bruno Sroka successfully held on to pole position on the leader board after two more races with 2.8 total points followed by Abel Lago (RRD, ESP) in second with 13.7 points and Jesse Richman in third place with 14 points.
Sroka says he is very excited about Cabrinha's new line, describing them as “Totally different and spectacular in performance,” after speaking to EETV after winning all three races on day 1. Sroka went on to say, “Last year we worked on improving the boards and I had a different goal last year so I lost a few events. You can say that last year was just for fun. But this year, I worked really hard. I went to Maui for one month to train before going to San Francisco (USA) for one month to meet my board designer and worked on developing the board and to test all the good kites. The new board is good because I don’t have to change board every time, so whatever the wind speed is, the board performs perfectly. I won one event in San Francisco, two European Championships and two KPWT titles.”
Meanwhile, Sean Farley (North, MEX) who was tied with team mate Charles Deleau (FRA) in fourth place commented about the race conditions after finishing two second places and failing to finish the last race of day 2: “The conditions are fairly good. Weird direction with a lot of thermal influence so there was a huge wind shift and was very on and off. The wind was light but good enough for a 14-m kite for all my races. Very big wind shifts but I was talking about this a while ago that I’ve never really seen a kiteboarder on the race really play the wind shifts. The fewer manoeuvres you do to get to the weather mark, you’re better off, so overall, just head for the weather mark with the fewest tacks possible,” explained Farley.
Farley and Sroka expressed their concerns on the last race of day 2 after rocks posed a serious hazard to the two riders who held the front two positions during the race. Farley raised the point, “That race shouldn’t have been held with such an obstruction in the course, but they claim it was our fault for going over there. Anyway, that wasn’t all too pleasant. In the end we got a redress and that was about it. So we just as riders hope for the best, but really hope for the Tours to take care of us and really mind the riders right now because I think that’s what’s gonna make or break them.”