It was a gloomy overcast day here in Hua Hin, Thailand. Competitors made their way to the beach early this morning to take advantage of the sideshore Northwesterly winds. The wind and all around weather made for extremely difficult riding conditions. Freestylers were out on 12m-14m kites struggling against the strong current and gusty, shifting wind.
During the first and second round of heats, four men were battling it out on the water. The competition level this season is very high, every rider has his or her own unique sense of riding style but it is clear that the world title is up for grabs to all competitors.
In the women’s freestyle single elimination division it was a great day for Karolina Winkowska (Slingshot, POL). Winkowska defeated Aya Oshima (Cabrinha, JPN) leading her into the semi final round against Bruna Kajiya (Flexifoil, BRA) who eliminated Sofia Lennartsson (Ozone, SWE) in the second round. Holly Kennedy (North, GBR) defeated Aina Renolen (Gin, NOR) in the second round leading her directly into the semi finals against the 2010 freestyle world champion Gisela Pulido (Airush, ESP).
In the men’s freestyle single elimination division it was a successful day for Dominican rider Alex Soto (F-ONE, D.R.). Soto eliminated Austrian rider Stefan Spiessberger (North, AUT) as well as Sebastien Garat (RRD, FRA) in the first set of heats but was later eliminated by Youri Zoon (Slingshot, NED). Zoon is certainly one of the strongest competitors on tour defeating all his opponents today leading him into the semi final round against Alvaro Onieva (Slingshot, ESP). Onieva who has been absent from the tour for a couple of years is making a great comeback eliminating North riders Thomas Paris (North, FRA) and Reno Romeu (North, BRA) as well as last years world champion runner up Alex Pastor (Airush, ESP) in a series of consecutive heats. Swedish rider Mikael Blomvall (Nobile, SWE) had a good riding day, eliminating Thai rider Nung Hanjai and the 2010 Australian event champion Tom Hebert (North, NCL). Alberto Rondina (Cabrinha, ITA) put an end to Blomvall’s winning streak in the third round with a 5/0 judge’s decision. Cesar Portas (North, ESP) as had a successful day defeating two opponents, Thai rider Mod Chanchan as well as Michael Schitzhofer (Best, AUT) leading him into the third round against Marc Jacobs (Switch, NZL). Jacobs was definitively on top of his game today eliminating one of the Qualifier wildcards Yo Pudla (Ozone, THA) in the first round. In the second round Jacobs defeated the 2010 freestyle world champion Andy Yates (Slingshot, AUS). It was a very close heat with a 3/0 judge’s decision in favor of Jacobs.
During the final heat in the 3rd round the wind began to diminish significantly therefore race director Erik Troostheide abandoned the final heat and released the freestylers for the remainder of the day and move on to course racing. A total of two course races were completed today with wind averaging 12 knots. Racers were out on 14m-16m kites. There was a lot of confusion and tangles near the end of the first race of the day, which caused upsets in the results.
In the women’s race division the current race leader Steph Bridge (North, GBR) received a DNF in the first race due to the upset near the finish line leading Katja Roose (Airush, NED) to the first place position followed by Caroline Adrien (Cabrinha, FRA) in third. In the second race of the day Bridge crossed the finish line first followed by Roose in second and Adrien in third.
In the men’s race division Polish rider Tomek Janiak (RRD, POL) managed to take the lead finishing in first place while Rolf Van der Vlugt (Airush, NED) placed second followed by Julien Kerneur (Takoon, FRA) in third. In the second race of the day Rolf Van der Vlugt (Airush, NED) used a strategic technique which enabled him the lead in the last leg of the race overtaking his opponents in the final seconds of the race making it possible to cross the finish line in first place while Julien Kerneur (Takoon, FRA) followed closely behind in second place and Olivier Dansin (North, FRA) was inches back taking third.
See more photos of this third day after the jump