Trials Begin in Leucate
Starting off with a buzz and excitement unique to such a large-scale PKRA event, day one of trials in Leucate, France, began early, with a morning meeting and a start of 11:30. While the chill in the air prevailed, with riders opting for hoodies and jackets rather than the usual board shorts and sandals, expectations were visibly high – with warm wetsuits and even some gloves ready and prepared for the day. Interestingly, this marks the 14th year of the Mondial Du Vent event in France, making it the oldest and largest kiteboarding event in the region. As was proven today, this event only gets better with time.
The horn sounded at 11:30 sharp, with early trial competitors including riders such as Liam Whaley and Louis Hutter on 9 and 10-meter kites. The conditions were variable, with heavy gusts throughout the day. The riding in Leucate is up close and personal once on the beach, and the judging tower sat just feet away from the action. Providing some of the most impressive riding of the afternoon, Ewan Jaspan displayed incredible power and speed, matched with amazing execution and style. His powered S-Mobe turned out to be a standout trick of the day. Looking back on his trial performance, Jaspan commented that he did not complete all the tricks that he was hoping to, but that he was happy with his heats and progression throughout the day. Luis Alberto Cruz from Cabarete also handled the gusty conditions beautifully, going for one-handed kite loop handle passes and other impressive maneuvers. Cruz earned much attention from the beach and the judges as well. This large showing of trial participants equated to a long day of competition, where the 32 men were eventually narrowed down to 14.
As there were only eight female entrants, trials proved not to be necessary for the women. This however, did not keep the ladies from preparing for their coming day on the water. Gisela Pulido and Karolina Winkowska watched the trials closely and planned for their performances – sights set on podium finishes. Bruna Kajiya also contributed her thoughts on the move to 9 total trick attempts for the women versus the previous 12 (which is still required for the men), saying that she believes there will be a higher quality of riding from the women in this new system, and that the fewer tricks executed will push quality over quantity – one of the main purposes of the new scoring method.
For tomorrow, Asia Litwin looks forward to the single eliminations after her third place finish in Dakhla, commenting that her plan for competition is to simply execute the best tricks given the amount of wind provided, adding that it can be quite difficult to strategize when the wind conditions are never set in stone. The close of the day’s trials in Leucate resulted in advancement by talented competitors including Robinson Hilaro, Stefan Spiessberger, and Eudazio Da Silva, among others. This year, the Mondial Du Vent event will surely be a close competition, with the best riders in the world likely winning by just fractions of points, giving way to nothing less than a spectacular spectator experience.