Epic Battles Await
Competitors woke up to another beautiful and clear day in paradise here in Noumea, with a slight breeze and the possible promise of contestable winds. Showing up prepared and ready for anything, the event site quickly filled up for the first skippers meetings, at which time they were left to wait until conditions improved.
While several riders were able to make a few tacks, this just wasn’t enough to warrant the beginning of the trials for this final PKRA stop. As a result, most of the day was spent SUPing, relaxing, and chilling by the pool – all the while, keeping the coming on-water battles in mind.
For the women, this event puts everything on the line in the battle for the title. Prior to the last event in China, the battle for 1st and 2nd was between Gisela Pulido (ESP) and Bruna Kajiya (BRA). But now, coming off a win in Fuerteventura and last week in China, Karolina Winkowska (POL) stands out as a serious contender for the title. Essentially, the placing that each women earns here at this last event will provide their placing in the world rankings.
For the men, first and second place is between Youri Zoon (NED) and Alex Pastor (ESP). Tied coming into the last event, they were even in the rankings. Now, after a win by Youri in China, he has the advantage coming into this event. With a solid point spread between the 1st and 2nd ranking and 3rd and 4th ranking, the battle for first is only between these two fierce competitors. Whoever wins here in New Cal will reign supreme as the 2012 World Champion.
Similarly, the battle between 3rd and 4th is very close, with Alberto Rondina (ITA) retaining a slight lead over the 4th ranked 2009 World Champion Kevin Langeree (NED). Kevin demonstrated that he is still a force on his first season back after being injured. Rondina, on the other hand, has been continually climbing up the rankings year after year to be a familiar face in the top five. Ultimately for Kevin to oust Alberto from his 3rd place ranking, he needs to beat him by at least two places.
An exciting twist in the battle between first and second and third and fourth is the fact that we have a top-level rider competing here that was not present on the tour all year. Tom Herbert (FRA) will compete in his first event after taking a break from the tour. Tom likely has the ability to disrupt some of these title battles if he turns out a really good heat, which is sure to make for some interesting action.
For tomorrow, the forecast looks to be improving and the wind is shifting to the more normal direction; however it is still not expected to be classic, strong New Caledonia conditions until possibly Saturday and Sunday.