Asia’s top kiteboard racers battle it out on the flat waters of Phuket’s Chalong Bay on day one of competition
Friendship Beach, Phuket – The first day of Kite Tour Asia’s inaugural event of the 2013-14 season kicked off in high style with the region’s leading kiteboard racers fighting for position in the sheltered waters of Phuket’s Chalong Bay.
In the men’s raceboard division the Thai riders stamped their authority from the outset. Narapichit “Yo” Pudla (THA) was unbeatable in the light-to-moderate shifting conditions and scored bullets, or wins, in each of his four races.
It was a feat the 23-year-old repeated in the sole twin tip race, with the event being the first where the division has been recognized as an official class by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), earning competitors International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) world ranking points.
Kathrin Borgwardt (GER) was denied a similar clean sweep in the racebaord and twin tip classes by Lisa Nikitina (UKR). The 23-year-old Ukrainian rider used her weight advantage in the lightening conditions to sweep across the line first by a considerable margin in the twin tip class.
“I used my 11m Ozone Edge because I’m so light,” said Nikitina, her face slathered in pink zinc against the tropical sun. “The wind was changing direction a little bit on the course. It was difficult, but good. It’s just started, but I’m enjoying this event.”
The Thailand Christmas Race Special organized by Kite Tour Asia (KTA) and presented by Tamarind Villas, the main local sponsor, is being hosted by Kitezone. The three days of races, comprising formula raceboard and twin tip, are a slightly shorter than traditional KTA tour stop.
Thirty-three riders from 12 countries registered for the event, with some opting to compete in both raceboard and twin tip divisions as the classes are racing separately. In both divisions the men and women are racing together, though they are ranked separately.
The wind built quickly in the early morning hitting an average of around 15kts by the time the class flag came down for the first of the raceboard heats, the scene bathed in clear sunshine temperatures in the mid-thirties Celsius and nearly flat waters.
Pudla was split from his fellow countryman Chanon “Jack” Phrakew (THA) by Adrian Geislinger (AUT), who took two second places in the opening races of day one. In the day’s third race Phrakew trumped Geislinger and snatched a second, but could not get the better of Pudla despite a good lead in the first of the two laps of the windward-leeward track.
“The wind was dropping and changing all the time,” said Phrakew, 32. “In the morning I was on my 13m and later on my 17m. The wind was better and steadier outside, but the current was very strong out there. Inside there were holes in the wind. If you made the wrong choice you were in trouble. But overall I’m really happy with my position.”
While Borgwardt, 37, based in Boracay in the Philippines, was overhauled by the lighter woman in the twin tip class, she was superior in the raceboard class. She has discovered a new turn of pace aided by a switch of board maker. The German scored bullets in each of the three races she completed, outpointing Benyapa “Fon” Jantawan (THA) and Bitna Kim (KOR).
“I’m very happy because I’ve just changed to a new TemaVento board,” said Borgwardt. “I really noticed the difference. It goes much better and the upwind legs are faster. Still, the conditions were challenging, with big lulls in the wind.”
Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsor Tamarind Villas, Hosts Kitezone and local support sponsors the Vijitt and Rawai hai Narn Group. As well as our key tour sponsors Cabrinha and Orange Bue Ville
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