Winners crowned in freestyle, Formula kite and Twin Tip racing at close of Boracay event graced by strong winds
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Bulabog Beach – The Netherlands’ Dylan van der Meij and Estefania Rosa dos Santos from Brazil were crowned winners of the Kiteboard Tour Asia (KTA) Philippines’ freestyle event in pulsating action marked by strong, blustery conditions that tested the riders to the limit.
For the duo of smooth, powerful riders it was a repeat of their victories at the last stop of the tour in Bintan, Indonesia. But both were able clinch the top podium spots with just one final heat in the double eliminations after victory in the singles on day three.
Van der Meij, 19, and dos Santos, the 26-year-old Brazilian number two, threw down their biggest tricks with stunning fluency despite the squally weather with winds of more than 26kts that pumped across the flat waters off Boracay’s Bulabog Beach.
Thailand’s Narapichit “Yo” Pudla finished the fourth and final day of competition at the KTA Philippines Bocacay Extreme, with Blue Orange Ville as the presenting sponsor and Aqua Boracay by Yoo the host, top in the men’s course-board and Twin Tip racing classes, sealing the deal in with bullets each of the day’s sole class races.
“I’m feeling a little sick today after four days of working hard,” said Pudla, 23. “But it’s ‘happy days’. I think it’s been tough for everyone. I’m really pleased. I’m going straight back to Thailand and I think I’ll have a rest – for a week.”
Astrid Berz (SUI) scored a bullet in the final course-board race of the day to land the Formula kite title with an impressive tally of victories. But her biggest rival Kathrin Borgwardt (GER), who placed second, had challenged the Swiss racer all the way.
“Earlier when the wind was a bit wild today I thought I might sit out the last race as I’d done enough already for overall victory,” said a delighted Berz. “But the wind dropped and it looked a bit more friendly so I went for it. In reality, though, now I prefer strong wind to light.”
Borgwardt closed out the series in the women’s Twin Tip competition on the top podium spot, content to sit out the final race of the day safe in the knowledge she had enough points already to have victory in the bag. Freestyle rider Kelly Schouten (NED) was among the surprises of the day when she snatched overall runner-up spot despite a slow start in the previous days’ lighter airs.
Another remarkable story of the day was poise and precision shown by 12-year-old freestyler Christian Tio (PHI) who battled his way up the double elimination order with a series of incredible heats against older vastly more experienced riders despite the gnarly conditions that threw some off their game.
Boracay-based Tio used a 5m kite and home advantage to the full, cleanly landing trick after trick like 313s, stunning Low Mobes, NISs, and Blind Judges despite the huge gusts. But duelling his way up the roster in the sapping seven-minute heats took its toll and he was finally taken down by the powerful Slovenian rider Jaka Komocar, but still achieved a fifth place overall.
Komocar, 17, then suffered the same fate at the hands of Andrey Salnik (UKR), whose power and speed was too much for the Slovenian. Salnik then took out the single elimination runner-up, Sweden’s Mike Blomvall, only to come up against the immovable object of van der Meij in the thrilling final.
Both riders took to the water on 7m and 8m kites and even the powered and smooth van der Meij suffered a few uncharacteristic crashes. But Salnik, who tried to match the Dutchman trick-for-trick, yet go bigger, suffered a few hairy moments.
At one point Salnik, 28, landed a trick at with such power and speed at the water’s edge that he rode up the beach in his bindings before his kite crashed into the trees, miraculously without damage. But in the end van der Meij’s impressive repertoire of stomped tricks simply outpointed the Ukrainian rider.
“I’m super-happy,” said van der Meij. “It was a really tough heat. The wind was huge and the rain was in my eyes. I could see he was very powered and going big. So I wasn’t sure whether I’d won or not. I’m so happy.”
Compatriot Schouten was not so lucky. She came up against dos Santos in the final after overhauling British number one Rosanna Jury when both women had to borrow smaller kites because of the extreme conditions.
In the final the slight Dos Santos, on a 7m kite with Schouten on a 6m, was incredibly fluid in her range of tricks with Shifty 3s, Blind Judges and an “S” Bends to Blind thrown down almost effortlessly in a way that overwhelmed the Dutch woman’s tally.
“I feel very proud of myself,” said the perpetually sunny dos Santos, after hearing she had won. “I’m not used to rain and strong, gusty winds. I only had two crashes, which is good for the conditions. I tried to relax and enjoy myself, and it worked.”
All the winners were presented with their prizes during an entertaining evening to wrap-up the KTA’s fifth highly-successful season marked by a roster of stellar international talent.
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