We were all wondering on the run into Thailand if this potentially light wind venue was cooking up another surprise for us, as actually Pranburi has done for the last three seasons when it has delivered some of the best winds those tours experienced. So, with this in mind and following the high wind blasting two weeks ago in Indonesia, the riders and crew left nothing to chance, packed for every outcome and headed with heavy loads to Pak Nam Pran beach for round two of the Asian Kiteboard Championship Tour.
The Pak Nam Pran event follows directly on the heels of the Kitesurf Association Thailand’s own National Championship in Hua Hin the weekend before at Surfspot, which is planned to enable all the Thai riders to make just one journey to the area for two events and for the early birds from the KTA to warm up to the Thai conditions in advance of the Asia Tour event. The KTA helps to support the Thai Nationals and we hope that we can see many more of these iniatives develop over the coming seasons around Asia as it gives our sport a solid foundation to grow from.
With a total discipline entry of 85 for this round the Kitezone KTA Thailand was set to be another busy competition, but with this being the home event for the KTA the Thailand rounds are always a chilled affair and very much the kite event by kiters for kiters. Based once again at the Kitezone Pranburi things were warming up nicely as the last of the riders arrived and the KTA Kite Kids went into action for another very successful of power kite training sessions for the local Thai champions of the future.
From day one of the competition the wind schedule that was to be the pattern for the week was set. No frontal winds this time to give us the early morning starts of former seasons, but rather the thermal afternoon winds that you would expect from Pranburi at this time of year. This did however add an extra tweak to the always unique KTA Thailand round and this time it came in the form of the 300 Peaks paragliding crew who were kick starting each day with jet-boat tow launches for the gliders before they cut loose at the appropriate height to entertain the gathering crowds. Entertainment which included some mind blowing ariel work from Red Bull acro-pilot Veso Ovcharv and tandem rides for many of the KTA riders including our own guest MC Sukie Robertson, who of course had more than a few words to say about it when she landed.
300 Peaks as well as being our safety boat team once the wind did start to blow, also added one final dimension to this event for us with high level filming as they strapped our Aussie cameraman Tim Harris to the tandem and dangled him up there to do his thing. For a taste of this check out our 4th day video report.
Day one belonged to the racers. With the RB class hitting the start line at lunchtime with the thermal wind clocking a steady 12kts and building. On home turf Yo Narapichit Pudla (THA) was soon tucking his first wins of the week away while rivals Ken Nacor (PHI), Pravit Buajuturas (THA) and Jack Chanon Phrakeaw (THA) battled it out for the following places. For the girls Fon Benyapa Jantawan (THA) also on her home water, Kathrin Borgwardt (GER) and Aya Oshima (JPN) were mixing it in some very closely fought racing that would be the pattern throughout the week. It was also good to see Ben Turner over all the way from New Zealand for his first taste of KTA racing action and rumor has it we can expect to see a lot of the Kiwi crew on the start line at the KTA China, so that will ramp things up nicely for the finals.
The TT class was also in action, though finding it a little harder work to battle the strong currents in the lighter conditions. They did put out three races though on that first day and we started to see some changes in the front runners from the KTA Indonesian round. Anny Barlow (USA) placed fourth over in Indo and new face and rising star Yue Chen Jing (CHN) who at only just 13 yrs old was making a big impact started their fight for the TT top slot. Over in the men’s TT another of the Xiamen riders Xiao Cheng Deng (CHN) was unsettling our two regular top runners Doque de los Santos (PHI) and Jay Ortis (PHI) showing that China is gaining ground in this race discipline.
So day one gave us a solid opening for the race fleets, which again on day two opened the proceedings before later in the day the wind perked up just enough to encourage the KTA Competition Director to fire up the Freestyle action. Although sadly the thermal did not last through it did allow for half of the single eliminator to take place and for us to see who was making the early running.
With 2012 Asian Champ Ken Nacor (PHI) back on the scene and the ever consistent Hiro Nakano (JPN), things were always going to be explosive in Thailand, even moreso with Long Nguyen Duc (VIE) the round one winner still very much on form and Micheal Khromykh (UKR) also making his presence felt. For the girls Aya Oshima (JPN) was showing she is still very much the all-rounder this season as she took on Indo round’s number two Kristiin Oja and Brazil’s first rider to take part in the KTA, Estofania Rosa.
Day three of competition gave us much the same conditions as the previous day, but with a shorter time frame to work with. Never the less all the disciplines were in action and the fights of the two opening days continued. One clear winner though on race side of things was the speed of the current, which on tide turn was causing some issues for the racers and especially TT in the lighter winds, making the first upwind mark more of a slog at times than a race. The race team had been taking the start line out around 1km to take advantage of the early part of the thermal, but as the racing continued the current was not being too kind.
The final day however came through on forecast with the best winds of the week that gave the KTA race team a new course option giving riders and spectators alike the fastest most shore nipping racing of the week. With a shorter upwind leg to mark 1 the riders where then turned beach-ward on hacking reach that gave plenty of close action and overtaking for both the RB and TT racers. The turning mark of this reach was set in front of the sandbar only 10’s of meters away from the crowds, who cheered and encouraged each rider through the turn. Some riders fared better than others which gave everyone some exciting wipe out moments to add to some very cool passing techniques, with some very tidy racing skills on display! for the RB class it was an all Thai result with Yo Narapichit Pudla winning the mens & Fon Benyapa Jantawan winning in the ladies class respectively. TT Class saw Anny Barlow (USA) and Doque de los Santos (PHI) taking the top spots.
Freestyle continued in the best winds the riders had seen throughout week, as we finally got to close out the single eliminations. Some great riding from Hiro Nakano saw him take first place over Yo as he dialed in those 5’s like a machine. Kristiin Oja hit the power full on against Rosa who showed Asia what Brazilian riding talent was all about in a close run women’s freestyle singles final, Oja won the heat though with some powered Blind Judges and railey to blinds giving her 1st place in this round of the KTA tour.
Kitezone KTA Thailand has given us another event week to remember. Great crowd of riders that gave 110% percent action and entertainment all week in the challenging conditions all backed up by great local support and some very cool social evenings that gave everyone a taste of Thailand on several different levels. A big thanks goes out to the Pulsawat for our Opening night Thai feast and to Ley Café for our mid-week tunes and Kite Party Night. Then there was the awards night and for those of you there, my god that was one big stage or what! Big thank you then to Kitezone for that and for being our hosts for the week.
Thanks also to our other local sponsors and partners the Sports Authority of Thailand and the Toursim Department of Thailand, along with the Evason Hua Hin and the Bacchus Home Resort who housed the KTA team and provided all our race office and media room requirements.
Finally big shout-out to Cabrinha for all those lovely prizes , Maelstorm and Ozone for backing the KTA Kite Kids, plus our ongoing tour sponsorship support from the Blue Orange Ville and of course Kitezone Thailand once again.
See you next week in Boracay………..
TOP 3 for the KTA Thailand
1. Hironobu Nakano (JPN)
2. Yo Narapichit Pudla (THA)
3. Michael Khromykh (UKR)
1. Kristiin Oja (EST)
2. Estefania Rosa (BRA)
3. Aya Oshima (JPN)
RB Class Men
1. Yo Narapichit Pudla (THA)
2. Ken Nacor (PHL)
3. Pravit Buajutturas (THA)
RB Class Women
1. Fon Benyapa Jantawan (THA)
2. Aya Oshima (JPN)
3. Kathrin Borgwardt (GER)
TT Class Men
1. Doque De Los Santos (PHL)
2. Xiao Cheng Deng (CHN)
3. Jay Ortiz (PHL)
TT Class Women
1. Anny Barlow (USA)
2. Yue Chen Jing (CHN)
3. Lisa Nikitina (UKR)