The spectators on the beach of El Medano came in large numbers today for the Kite Masters in Tenerife. The wind picked up around midday and kept increasing until it reached a solid 25 knots. The PKRA riders brought an amazing show for the crowd on the beach.
The new format of competition for the Kite Masters combined high jumps and technical maneuvers which showed all aspects of freestye kitesurfing. For those of you who did not have the chance to come to Tenerife you can follow it live on: http://www.livestream.com/prokitetour
The stronger the wind got, the higher the kitesurfers jumped. The high jumps allowed the riders to perform great boards off. They also executed handle passes which are considered as the most technical tricks, and are also referred to as wakeboard tricks.
Race Director Olaf Van Tol started the competition at 12pm and was excited about the new Kite Masters format. The action was a lot easier for the public to understand with very high jumps and board off tricks. The usual standard of the PKRA competition are technical progressive maneuvers, which are often only fully appreciated by experienced kiters. Olaf also added that everyone could fully enjoy somebody flying ten meters in the air while flipping a board around for five seconds and traveling up to fifty meters.
However, the current leader of the PKRA World Tour, Youri Zoon (NED, Slingshot) landed one of the hardest progressive move today: a flat 9, which consist in a double horizontal rotation, passing the bar twice behind his back and landing toe side. This move stirred a buzz this winter as 5 times world champion (2004 to 2008) Aaron Hadlow (GBR, Flexifoil) made a point to land the move in Cape Town and did a web series about it. He’s not alone anymore as Youri landed a couple of flat 7’s during his heats and two flat 9’s after his heats.
Judge Antoine Jaubert explained the point system of the Kite Masters: during the Round Robin, every competitor will go against each other, out of 14 men, they get 0 point if they loose, 1 point if they are equal, and 2 points if they win the heat. Divided in two groups of 7 riders, the two best ones of each group will come out of the round robin and fight for the podium places.
One of the most exciting heats of the day was Onieva (ESP, Slingshot) against Zoon (NED, Slingshot), both are very good in old school jumps. They have been on tour for years and have experienced the progression of kiteboarding. They are also masters in wake-style tricks with power and radicalism. Youri crashed a flat 7 at the end of his heat while trying to secure his win. Instead he couldn’t launch his kite and ended on the rocks downwind of the spot. Meanwhile Alvaro was using a big kite (9 meters), at the beginning of his heat in order to perform high jumps and then changed for a smaller size (7 meters) to get more technical. This was a good strategy as he won this heat and many others.
Sebastien Garat (FRA, RRD) really appreciated the round robin format because he likes the fact that you are competing for at least 7 heats, so 42 minute. In normal competition, a loss means you are eliminated but in this format you have many chances to perform your best.
Half way through the competition the tide was lower, which made the spot flatter, easier for the riders to land their tricks. Some amazing board off moves happened today, to be remembered are the king dead man by Tom Hebert (FRA, North) which is a board off with the body upside down. Tom didn’t stop his mastering in old school maneuvers and went on to do a board off pass, passing his board behind his back while in the air. His good friend Sebastien Garat (FRA, RRD) therefore decided to execute his favorite board off: flipping his board in his hands and back on his feet.
And last but not least, Alvaro Onieva (ESP, Slingshot) performed board off tricks that made his reputation back in the days, for example: the multiple board off, the “tic-tac”: a 360 of the board spinning in the air and then back on his feet.
If you have a hard time figuring these tricks out, watch the competition live tomorrow on the PKRA live stream page at 2pm, local time.
The two best competitors today after 22 heats disputed, half way through the round robin, are Alvaro Onieva (ESP, Slingshot) and Tom Hebert (FRA, North), both riders getting two points after each heat. Tom will have to go against two very strong competitors tomorrow: Alberto Rondina (ITA, Cabrinha) and Kevin Langeree (NED, Naish) 2009 World Champion, who came back from a knee injury and is competing again for the first time this year here at the Kite Masters. Race Director Olaf Van Tol noted that Kevin was riding as if nothing ever happened, landing a nice mobe 7 on a kicker as well as the highest jump of the day.
Easy Event and the PKRA would like to thank the sponsors: Ayuntamiento Granadilla de Abona, Cerveza Reina, Ron Santa Cruz, Sheraton La Caleta, Hotel Arenas del Mar, Hotel Carel and Coca-Cola.