Racing Takes Hold in St. Peter-Ording
Focusing solely on racing, the seventh day of competition proved to fit well with the conditions, as wind was light, yet perfectly suitable for the continuation of course racing. With 8-14 knots of wind, racers entered the water in the early morning, hungry for a day full of racing action. At this point, Riccardo Leccese (COL) and Christine Bonniger (GER) held first place positioning, and hoped to keep it that way. For the third racing day in the competition, the best racers on the planet gathered around the starting line for the fifth race of the Beetle Kitesurf World Cup.
On this fifth race, Leccese, Bryan Lake (USA), and Olivier Dansin (FRA) pulled out to the lead first. Lake and Leccese quickly gained top positioning and widened their distance from the rest of the fleet within several minutes. While Heineken pushed past his competitors toward the front around the windward mark, Blazeg Ozog (POL) and Florian Gruber (GER) battled in fourth and fifth place. On their second lap, Lake continued to hold his lead with Leccese staying strong in second. Many competitors took different lines, which greatly separated the fleet. Minutes before the finish line, Koch gained some ground, which put him in fourth, and the end result turned out to be Lake in first, with Leccese, Gruber, and Koch behind.
The second race of the day – race six – proved to be just as exciting and suspenseful to watch, as the varied strategies and tactics became more clear. Adam Koch crossed the start early, which disqualified him, while Lake immediately traveled further upwind than his fellow competitors. Heineken and Leccese fought interchangeably for top positioning at the front of the fleet, while Gruber once again moved ahead past Olivier Dansin (FRA) and Julien Kernuer (FRA). Lake then took a faster line from the first windward to leeward tack, locking into serious speed, as he barely had to work his kite to gain power. Taking a big risk, Lake then short-tacked and Koch continued to hold his placement in front. With Leccese close behind, Lake overtook Gruber and sped over the finish line, followed by Gruber and the disqualified Koch.
Race seven stood out as an interesting battle as well, as all racers took off on the same tack, allowing for an impressive viewing perspective from the beach. Lake tacked quickly, as did Heineken; however, Heineken came in too tight and missed his first mark. By the windward buoy, Lake had gained an impressive lead. Heineken and Leccese then battled for second and third place. Amazingly, by the leeward mark on the second lap, Lake was 35 seconds ahead of the rest of the fleet. By the end, racers were very spread out and Lake happily took another “bullet”, in what would be his best racing day yet. Christine Bonniger (GER) went on to earn first as well, continuing her winning streak for the majority of the races so far and making her German fans very proud.
In the last race of the day, competitors continued on the square-shaped course that took approximately 13-15 minutes for the first racers to complete, with marks roughly 1 kilometer apart. The wind shifted and picked up briefly for this race, so many riders switched to smaller kites. This was the best race of the day for Katja Roose (NED) who raced incredibly well, earning 15th overall against the men, and first for the women. For the men, Koch led in the beginning of the race, as Leccese, Heineken, and Lake kept close at his heels. Gruber also held strong in the front of the pack. After pulling around the first windward mark, Lake claimed the lead again, leaving Koch and Leccese to battle it out. Heineken, on the other hand, took a very different tack, hoping this would improve his ranking. Lake continued pushing forward at remarkable speeds, causing some to comment that it seemed as if he was in a different race. Lake then finished first and Heineken’s tactics worked enough to put him in second, with Dansin in third.
When asked about his successful day of racing, Lake commented “It was nice ‘big kite’ racing today on a good course. I was able to do pretty well and am really happy with my wins. I just feel honored to race with all these guys and am stoked to take the lead at this point.” Overall, the morning and afternoon proved to be an incredible day of racing. Tomorrow, winds of 11-21 knots are expected, which may allow for any and all disciplines to take center stage.
Also of note, an official announcement regarding a new confirmed tour stop has been finalized. Haikou, Haiman Island, China will host the 2012 PKRA World Tour Event – Hainan International Kitesurf Festival. This event will take place from the 12th-18th of November and will feature both racing and freestyle disciplines. Tour organizers and the PKRA are very much looking forward to this first-time event and remain eager for its 2012 debut. And as the biggest kiteboarding event to ever take place in China, this tour stop will surely be one to remember.