Slalom Highlights The Fuerteventura Grand Slam
The Second day of the Fuerteventura Kiteboarding Grand Slam featured the exciting discipline of slalom with a total of 4 rounds being run for both the men and the women’s fleets. Bibiana Magaji swept all four races of the ladies and Julien Kerneur leading the men’s fleet.
Awaking to another sunny and windy day on the beautiful Playa Sotavento, it seemed like Groundhog Day as the side-offshore wind combed the azure waters in front of the event venue, yet again. To the delight of the spectators, the exciting discipline of slalom took center stage as the first race got underway just before noon in 25 knots of wind.
The larger men’s fleet was broken into 2 qualifier heats of 8 riders with only the top four finishers advancing to a final eight-man race. For the smaller women’s fleet, each 9 women heat was a final. With a fairly short course set, riders using twin tips had a slight advantage as those using directional boards found it difficult to lock in after jibing, before reaching the next mark.
After two rounds of racing, the course was changed, making for some longer reaches between marks. Some of the buoys were relocated closer to shore in the area prone to the punchy wind gusts. Additionally, small waves breaking at two of the inside marks added another challenge into the mix, making for some spectacular crashes and tangles.
The men’s fleet saw aggressive racing with two general recalls due to over-early starts. Kerneur and Ozzie Smith seemed to dominate the starts, but had some stiff competition with Ariel Corniel riding fast and aggressive, taking the win in race two. Despite this first place finish, he wasn’t able to maintain the same momentum in the later races. Also, Paul Serin and Jerome Cloetens were consistently near the top of the pack and showed promise to be threats in later races.
For the all twin-tip fleet of women, it was Magaji who seemed to steal the show, making the hole shot on each race and maintaining her lead all the way to the finish line. In her last race, she got caught up in another competitor’s kite and was unable to cross the finish line first. Rules for such a situation granted her a redress based on her prior results, giving her four bullets for the four races. Annelous Lammerts and Julia Castro battled each race for the second and third spots, finishing in a stalemate, until the running of the next races.
After such an incredible day of racing, the riders are very much looking forward to the continuation of the event, however with the start of the single elimination of the freestyle set for tomorrow, mindsets have shifted towards the intense freestyle heats soon to come.