Day 4 – Think Blue Kitesurf World Cup Continues
Day four from the Think Blue Kitesurf World Cup in St Peter-Ording, Germany, brought a variety of action from both the slalom fleet and the freestyle riders. In choppy conditions and light wind, one round of slalom was run and both the men’s and women’s freestyle trials continued stopping shy due to dying winds – leaving only four heats to remain until completion.
Arriving to the beach it was clear that the calmness from the evening prior had lingered throughout the night. A glassy sheen on the North Sea greeted the riders as they arrived for the 10:30 meeting at the event site. Without notice, the wind suddenly turned on as if a switch was flipped, and riders swiftly prepared their equipment in anticipation of a competition day.
As quickly as the wind filled in, the heats began and it was men’s trials heat #8 that hit the water first. Using 13-15m kites, riders were able to do a wide variety of tricks, despite the light onshore winds that averaged 10-12 knots, peaking to 15 knots. With the next heat abandoned, the women hit the water to give it a go. After managing to complete a heat of the ladies, the decision was made to switch to the slalom discipline to allow the winds to increase before resuming the freestyle.
The slalom fleets were eager to hit the water and were clearly much more powered on their race gear. Solid qualifying heats drew even larger crowds to the water’s edge as the action went on non-stop up until the finals, wherein the men’s, we saw Bryan Lake (US) riding incredibly fast and getting a great start that had him in the lead throughout the entire race. The remainder of the pack was vying for the next spot. Florian Gruber (DE) sailed aggressively to secure the second spot after rounding mark two with a tighter line and a couple of errors from within the remainder of the fleet.
The women’s fleet took to the water next with Katija Roose (NL), Kari Schibevaag (NO) and Bibiana Magaji (EE) in the top three spots, with Roose pulling ahead to round the buoy in first. Magaji faltered after the mark, and Christine Boenniger (DE) took advantage. The third pin proved to be problematic for some competitors who missed the lay-line, which lead to some changes in positions that saw Annelous Lammerts (NL) climbing from the back to finish in third.
As the wind had filled in throughout the racing action, the freestyle trials resumed and saw impressive heats from both the men and the women. High-level riding went down throughout and the spectators on the beach were clearly enthralled with the up-close action that was happening front and center. With the choppy conditions, down-wind current, and light winds posing many challenges for the competitors, tensions were high as the riders had to put it all on the line to earn a spot in the main event.
Unsurprisingly, freestyle trials saw all the usual suspects and top riders advancing. Impressive riding came from Therese Taabbel (DK) who has clearly been training hard for this event, riding with power and commitment in her heats. Youri Zoon (NL) was on point, and landed a variety of technical tricks including a nice Blind Judge 5. Another noteworthy trick came from Ariel Corniel (DO), who landed a perfectly executed and powerful Front Blind Mobe in only inches of water to the applause of the crowds cheering from the beach. As the sun began to fall, the wind followed suit and the breeze dropped below contestable levels.
Two heats of men and two heats of women are all that remain for the freestyle trials. Tomorrow’s forecast looks light but the upcoming days look very promising for the main event freestyle and continuation of the slalom.