After two days of racing, the 2010 West Coast Open and 2010 Canadian National Championships of Kiteboard racing are complete in (normally) beautiful Squamish, BC, Canada.
Day 2 saw the miserable weather predictions come to be. Competitors woke (some a little worse for the wear from the previous nights’ festivities) to be greeted by a thick layer of grey clouds capping off the valley skies of the Squamish bay. But ever optimistic, the race committee pressed onward and pushed for more racing. Normally low pressure systems and rain mean that the winds are completely shut down in Squamish, but in this case it meant competitors would be racing in sideways downpour rain and shifting winds gusting from 5mph to 25mph.
The first race of the day was delayed until 1pm, but started with a promising breeze. Competitors rigged their biggest kites for the lulls and got ready to hold on through the gusts. Right off the starting horn a significant gust blew through just as friends and training partners Kyle Touhey and Stefano Rista collided kites while battling for the favoured position, capsizing Touhey. Meanwhile Adam Vance, Todd Pretty and Sebastian Bubmann were too eager and were over early on the start line. None of them realized until the very end of the race when the flag was still flying, so they all continued on the course and did not exonerate themselves – resulting in a score of OCS for the three of them. However still, Vance, Pretty and Bubmann were right behind Rista right up to the windward mark. Touhey took the opposite side of the course after the capsize and managed to climb back up to the front of the pack as well. As they all rounded the mark, Vance, Touhey and Rista took off downwind until the wrath of the unpredictable weather dropped the winds to their lowest. A tight pack of riders descended on the leeward mark just as the lulls hit. Vance, Touhey and Mark Leng were able to round the leeward mark unscathed, but most of the fleet could not keep their kites in the sky and ended up swimming trying to relaunch. The remainder of the riders saw the opportunity to ride the next gust and pass the downed kites.
Of the few riders that made it round the, almost all ended up dropping their kites on the next leg and drifting for some time. Touhey managed to keep his 16m flying long enough to take him up and around the final windward mark with a massive lead but also succumbed to the shifts and lulls on the final downwind leg with a downed kite. Even though unable to relaunch for some time, Rista and a few other riders managed to work their way back from despair to a huge regaining of ground. In the end Rista managed to keep his kite aloft and powered well enough to drive him to his first 1st place finish of the event, followed by Chris Butzen of Milwaukee then Mark Leng of Vancouver, each with their best finishes yet. Rainbow Monds came across the line shortly after in 4th, landing the best finish of the event for any of the women.
Normal finish times for the first finishers on day 1 had been averaging at 15min, while Rista took his bullet at just over 45min due to the challenging conditions. Because of this, and the worsening winds and weather, the race committee decided to call a break. After some time dropping winds while ashore, racing was finally called off for the day.
With only 5 races held over two days, the conditions were far from the norm of Squamish’s predictable smooth breeze. But competitors were mostly relieved to get in a final race on day two so as to have enough to qualify for one discard per rider. Luck and skill at negotiating the difficult conditions were added factors in the already physical and tactical challenges of racing. But this event can be considered a great success, and most riders said they would be happy to come back next year as the event grows. The level of riding was fairly competitive and we will look towards enticing more and more riders in future years to come. Even despite a ‘worst case’ weather scenario, Squamish truly proved its potential as a hosting venue for events of this and higher calibre.
Many thanks again to all of the sponsors for making this event possible: The Squamish Windsports Society, Cabrinha Kites, North Kites, Ozone Kites, Airtime Boardsports, Decosse, Dakine, O’neill, NPX, IKA, SBC Kiteboard Magazine, and the Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation.
Near the end of the final day, just as competitors were gathering around the tents for the final debriefing and awards ceremony, the sun managed to burn through the clouds enough to brighten the skies.
Thanks to all the competitors, sponsors, and volunteers for making this event happen. Everyone in Squamish is looking forward to seeing you all next year.
2010 West Coast Open – Overall:
– 1st Place ($300) – Adam Vance (CAN – Ozone, NJS)
– 2nd Place ($200) – Kyle Touhey (CAN – Rista Design, O’neill)
– 3rd Place ($100) – Stefano Rista (CAN – Rista Design, O’neill)
2010 West Coast Open – Women:
– 1st Place (winning a Cabrinha Nugget) – Rainbow Monds (Airtime Boardsports)
– 2nd Place – Kris Kinn (Best)
– 3rd Place – Kirsten Ulmer (Cabrinha, NPX)
2010 Canadian National Championships:
– 1st Place ($200) – Adam Vance (Ozone, NJS)
– 2nd Place ($125) – Kyle Touhey (Rista Design, O’neill)
– 3rd Place ($75) – Stefano Rista (Rista Design, O’neill)
Full results after the jump