Day 1 – Fuerteventura PKRA Kiteboarding Grand Slam 2008
Sotavento, Fuerteventura – For the 8th straight year, the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association (PKRA) – the world’s foremost authority on kiteboarding events is hosting the Fuerteventura Kiteboarding Grand Slam in five days of extreme kiteboarding fun and action. The highlights of the event include Freestyle, Course Racing, and Speed Racing participated in by 65 professional kiteboarding athletes from 18 different countries. This year’s event is organized by Pro Center Rene Egli through it’s President Rene Egli, featuring € 55.000,00 in total prize money.
The kick-off of the games started today under a nice a sunny weather condition with winds blowing at an average of 18 to 35 knots. The temperature was at an average of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) with a general wind direction of side offshore to side shore. The wind formed moderately high waves breaking close to the beach about one meter high which enticed Youri Zoon to grab a surf board to catch a few waves during the break and transition between Freestyle and Racing. However, his fun was short lived due to the lifeguard who called him in since he was trying to surf in the same area as the freestylers who were trying to practice.
The mandatory skippers’ meeting was held at 10:30 am and immediately follow was the drawing for the freestyle ladder. After the drawing, the Freestyle event jump-started the competition at 11:15 am but only two people at a time were allowed on the water for safety purposes. A total of eight heats for the men’s first round were completed and no women’s Freestyle heats were run so the ladies were released early.
The Freestyle competition wrapped up at 1:30 pm and after a short break, the event switched disciplines to Course Racing at 3:10 pm and completed two races before the wind died down at the start of the third race that brought the event into postponement. At around 4:45 pm, race director Olaf Van Tol decided to call off the day as the wind direction was more onshore and was below PKRA standards.
The windy conditions proved challenging for most riders which required extra effort but these professional athletes managed to overcome the difficult conditions which proved their professionalism and dedication to kiteboarding. Although there were several kickers that rolled in, the riders found them difficult to hit due to strong and gusty conditions which saw most of the competitors on their 7m kites.
In the kick-off heat, Mikael Blomvall (SWE) powered by a Nobile kite went against Nobile teammate Alessandro Lugaresi (ESP) in a closely fought heat. Blomvall, who was late to arrive due to a lost board bag on returning from the Dominican Republic managed to grab the win on the technical side with a regular and switch blind judge and front mobe against Lugaresi’s mobe and kiteloop. Sebastien Garat (ESP) of Liquid Force fought Forest Bakker (ESP) of Flexifoil in the 2nd round of heat #1 managing to seal the win, beating the young Bakker easily with more power and technical difficulty. A blind judge with aerial handle pass, front mobe, mobe and slim for Garat against raley to blind and krypt for Bakker were registered in the judge’s score sheets.
“I had bad luck since I went against Sebastien Garat, so he beat me but I landed my best raley to blind so I’m pretty happy,” says the 13-year old Bakker who was on a 5m kite during the heat. Bakker was born in Barbados but lives in Tarifa after his family moved to Spain.
In the 2nd heat, the Italian Stallion Alberto Rondina (ITA) powered by Cabrinha returns to the PKRA with a convincing win over Slingshot’s Borja Rodriguez (ESP), another local rider with a powered regular and switch blind judge and a big kiteloop over a slim and kiteloop for Rodriguez. In the 3rd heat, another Cabrinha rider Petr Tyuskevich (RUS) won thru greater technical aspects and trick variety against another local kiteboarder Mark Tobella Mayans (ESP). A 313, shift 313, mobe, slim, front mobe and blind judge were the winning moves for the Russian rider against Mayan’s slim and high handle pass. Meanwhile, Slingshot’s Julian Hosp (AUT) was disqualified in the second round of the same heat after crashing his kite and deflating, therefore receiving assistance from the jet ski crew.
Heat #4 marked the return to the tour of F-One live wire Eli Zarka (ISR) but was short-lived after being defeated by Airush kiteboarder Jo Ciastula (ESP) who took the win with more technical moves including a blind judge, backside 360, slim and blind judge with aerial handle pass. Zarka on the other hand, landed a blind judge with aerial handle pass, slim and a few big kiteloops.
In heat #7, JN Kite’s Michael Schitzhofer (AUT) managed to grab his first win in Fuerteventura, defeating North’s Dan James (GBR) thru higher technical difficulty level and more variety. A blind judge, hasselhoff, shifty 313, mobe, kiteloop and front side 360 for the Austrian kiteboarder were the winning tricks against James’ raley to blind and kiteloops.
Course Racing Highlights
North Kiteboarding had a good start in the Course Racing event after dominating the Portimao Tour stop a few weeks ago. This time around, all of the three North racers grabbed the top three position with Portimao champion Charles Deleau (FRA) leading the pack after winning both of today’s two races. Sean Farley (MEX) is close in second place while Dirk Hanel (GER) is tied in third place with Best Kiteboarding’s Sami Gali (ESP).
In the women’s event, Cabrinha’s Fabienne D’Ortoli (FRA) dominated both races finishing first followed closely by another North riders Steph Bridge (GBR) and Angela Peral (ESP) in second and third place respectively. Best Kiteboarding’s Gina Esteva (ESP) came in fourth, wrapping up the ladies who were able to cross the finish line in the difficult conditions.
Race results after two races:
1. Charles Deleau, 1.4 points
2. Sean Farley, 5 points
3. Dirk Hanel, 8 points
4. Sami Gali, 8 points
1. Fabienne D’Ortoli, 1.4 points
2. Steph Bridge, 4 points
3. Angela Peral, 6 points