So finally it was here.
A new season, a new country and a whole new start for the KTA as we headed to off to create Myanmar’s first ever kiteboard event.
We’ve all been waiting a long time for this week, and it finally came. The Myanmar Wave Rider’s Cup and KTA Race Open, a multi-discipline event organised by the Myanmar Sailing Federation and hosted at the Ngwe Saung Yacht Club and Resort.
Groups of riders and organisers alike travelled from all over Asia (some even from as far as the US and Europe) to Ngwe Saung for the event. It wasn’t an easy journey to begin with, Myanmar being fairly off the beaten track, would involve at least 2 or 3 flights for most and a long road trip. That in itself was an adventure and an insight into Myanmar life as you journey ever on. In the end though when you did hit Ngwe Saung and the Bay of Bengal, you can’t help but be a little blown away and felt every km was worth it.
This event was many people’s first look at Myanmar, and in the countdown leading up to it everyone was getting pretty curious about what the location will be like. But at the end of the day, kiters are simple creatures, right? Once the minimum requirements of beach, warmth, waves and of course wind are met- it’s smooth sailing, surfing or kiting, which ever floats your boat. Ngwe Saung delivered on all fronts and while not perhaps the windiest of locations, when it did set in, it certainly did not disappoint.
The Myanmar Wave Rider Cup kicked-off with a formal opening dinner and welcoming speeches from the Minister of Hotels & Tourisms, Mr Htay Aung and our host at Ngwe Saung and GM for the MYF, Phone Kyaw Moe Myint. The event opening was also the end of the Buddhist Lent, which gave all us new faces to Myanmar a nice link into tradition, as the skies filled with lanterns and fireworks to mark the Full Moon of Thadingyut.
The competition days were then upon us. The sun rose just before 6 o’clock, and within minutes the ‘glamper’ tents became furnaces- no choice but to get up and start the day. Everyone headed down for breakfast to fuel up for the day ahead. By 7.30 the KTA team were down on the beach for the morning flag raising ceremony, where we were lined up army style and taught a couple of Myanmar military calls for ourselves- as good a start to the day as any.
A quick skipper meeting was closely followed by the first round of SUP. Don’t let the smiling faces fool you, the gloves were off right from the start. Big breakers at the shoreline caused more than a couple wipe outs, but the riders powered through and had an awesome competition.
By lunchtime the promised winds kicked in and in 13kts the Formula riders headed out to sea. Only to be stopped in their tracks half way through the first race, as dregs of the summer monsoon storms made an unwelcome appearance, to herald the end of the wind and solid soaking for one and all.
The pattern was repeated on day two, seeing the kiters frustrated, but the SUP racers having a killer of an event, with hard core paddling on the outward legs, followed by sweet sets of clean waves to fire you back home or dump you on your head if you did not keep your cool and your balance in-tacked.
The wind that there was however, did allow the R300 windsurfers to make their mark on the event, in an all locally fought out affair. With ‘scores on the door’ now for both the windsurfers and the SUP racers, the pressure was on for the weather and the kiters to link up and complete the full slate of action for the first ever Myanmar Wave Rider Cup.
The first morning of competition had begun with blessing for the wind from a travelling priest and we had all looked on at the time with intrigue. It seems though the local guys knew what they were doing and had covered all the bases.
There is no music more beautiful to a kiter’s ears than waking up to the sound of wind whistling through the windows. Though the past few breezeless days had left us all wondering if this would be the first KTA event with no wind, our doubts were blown away by the 20 knots that hit Ngwe Saung Beach on Saturday morning. Everyone was out pumping before they even had time to open their eyes, fearing that like the past few days, the wind could be swallowed in a storm at any second. Miraculously, it held out and both the Formula and TT classes put down races to be able to sign off the first Myanmar Wave Rider Cup as a success.
The offshore conditions made the beginning of each race tricky for the riders, many of whom had to be towed out by the safety boats to reach the wind line. By the second race though the local Ngwe Saung Yacht Club and KTA water crews had it dialed and every rider hit the start line at the allotted time
Once they got out there though, it was plain sailing for both the TT and Formula racers, who battled it out in some tight fought action throughout the day. KTA Race Director, Stephan Hertig had opted for a mixed course layout, which challenged the Formula crew with technical upwind racing, while the TT racers were allowed to blast it out against each other on fast reaching courses. Course designed to play to the strengths of the class, rather than the needs of organisations.
For Myanmar kiteboarding is completely new and it was reflected by the unusual lack of local riders. However, local talent was uncovered in the depths of the KTA team itself and Zeyar Win (known to us all as Wit) from Mawlamyine, who had traveled back to Myanmar to teach on the KTA Kite Kids programme, was soon talked into swapping his crew shirt for a riders vest by his countrymen, to become Myanmar’s first kite racer. So ok even though Wit did not shake the top riders off the podium, he certainly provided something for the local crowds to shout about and shout they did.
In the end though our usual suspects took up the top slots, picking up where they had left off last season. Topping the kiting for the men was Yo Narapitchit Pudla from Thailand, Asia’s top ranked kite racer, who was joined as he often is by Kathrin Borgwardt from Germany Who looks set to dominate another season in women’s division.
Ngwe Saung rounded things off in style with a chilled awards ceremony at the river’s edge North Point Bar. Which then blended it’s way into a full blown Halloween party for good measure, well it was Nov 31st so it would have been rude not to!!
Certainly Myanmar’s first kiting event can be counted as a success and the blend of watersports the organisers opted for worked together seamlessly, making sure there was never a dull moment for the competitors or spectators. The hospitality of the Myanmar people and the professionalism of the MYF and Ngwe Saung Yacht Club and Resort, was second to none. They, along with the strong local support of the events sponsors and the KTA’s international supporters, deserves the highest level of thanks and left us all feeling that this is just the start of the Myanmar story, which all look forward to being part of again at the next Myanmar Wave Riders Cup.
For Winner Results in all Classes - https://goo.gl/cjID93
Event Sponsors: Bangkok Bank, Ooredoo, Mastech, MPRL, Myint & Associates, Krispy Kremes, Tberg, IEM Co Ltd, Toto
Brand Sponsors: Cabrinha, Starboards
International Supporters: Aethic, BBtakin, LiP Sunglasses, Maelstrom, Panasonic
Media Sponsors: Cloudstringers, Myanmar Times
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