Competition Begins in Scheveningen, Holland
With an early start brought on by an 8:30 rider’s meeting, competitors filtered onto the event site, ready to begin the first day with full commitment and enthusiasm. As wind proved to be light, all competitors waited over the next several hours for the hope of stronger wind. The men’s freestyle trials gained first priority, with the possibility of racing later in the day. While riders chilled in the official “lounge area”, taking advantage of the plush chairs, endless red bull, and computer time, others chose to catch up on sleep and socialize. While waiting, current World Champion, Youri Zoon commented that he is very excited to be competing in his home country, where he is familiar with the conditions and can even go home after each day of competition – a welcome change after months of hotels stays and suitcase living.
Many were surprised to see such light winds on this day of expected strong conditions; however, not far into the afternoon the winds began to appear stronger and more consistently, allowing trials to begin at around 2:15. This turning point almost immediately followed a classic Holland downpour of hail and rain, which pushed competitors and beachgoers inside the huge O’Neill tents and lounges.
While the morning progressed slowly, once trials commenced it became clear why this location was chosen as a premier PKRA World Tour kiteboarding destination. The wind blew in a range of 15 knots for trials, only fluctuating slightly. At this point, onlookers watched as the talented competitors performed at their highest abilities. Riders such as Stefan Spiessberger (AUT), Ewan Jaspan (AUS), and Bas Koole (NED) advanced early on, while Reno Romeu (BRA) and Eudazio Da Silva (BRA) moved into the single elimination final as well. In particular, Liam Whaley (ESP), Johnno Sholte (NED), and Michael Schitzhofer (AUT) performed especially well, exhibiting ideal speed, power, and execution in the majority of their maneuvers.
With consistent wind blowing at around 14-16 knots, the competition was able to move into the first round of single eliminations around 6:15pm. In these heats, Schitzhofer, Patrick Blanc (ESP), and Sam Light (UK) initially advanced with a wide array of Blind Judges, S-Bends, and L3s – setting an impressive precedent for the heats to come in the following days. In the later end of the first round, riders struggled with gustier and windier conditions, making it even more challenging to gain big points.
For tomorrow, both racing and single eliminations are likely to run. The forecast looks stronger than today, with wind gusts expected to reach the high teens.