The first Asian kiteboard and tour champions have been crowned at the KTA finals in Thailand. Taking the men’s title for both the tour and the Asian championships in race and freestyle was Thailand’s own Narapichit Pudla Yo. For the women the KTA tour champion went to Germany’s Kathrin Borgwardt, while Hong Kong’s Hill Sui lifted the Asian championship title.
The fifth and final round of the Kiteboard Tour Asia brought 50 riders to the beautiful beach location of Pak Nam Pram near Pranburi. Being the finals of the first ever kiteboard competition tour of Asia it was fitting that it was to be held at the spectacular beach resort of the tours headline sponsor, the Evason Hua Hin & Six Senses Spa who pulled out all the stops to ensure the KTA and its riders had unique and memorable experience from their visit to Thailand.
It has been a hard fought tour from the first event back in China in October to the finals here in Thailand. Many riders have made their mark one way or another throughout the tour, but in particular pushing the eventual winners all the way into the last round were Ken Nacor (2nd KTA Tour and Asian championship), Sedat Celenk (3rd KTA Tour and Asian Championship) in the men’s freestyle. For the women it was Carla Delmoral (2nd KTA Tour) and Nuria Goma (3rd KTA Tour) , with Aiyah Oshima (2nd Asian Championship) and Diep Anh Thu Julia (3rd Asian Championship).
From course racing Sedat Celenk (2nd KTA Tour and Asian Championship) was again hot on the heels of the winners, along with Deivis Maciulis (3rd KTA Tour) and Doque Delos Santos (3rd Asian Championship). In the women’s fleet Nuria Goma (2nd KTA Tour) and Carla Delmoral (KTA Tour), with Aiyah Oshima (2nd Asian Championship) and Reiko Kimura (3rd Asian Championship) also made sure it was not easy for the winners.
Thailand was to prove a very challenging event for riders, the event crew and spectators a like as a typhoon that developed over near the Philippines was to throw the weather and wind forecasts out of the window for the competition. Anticipated was what was seen on day one of the tour stop, a cross onshore wind that would build with the afternoon thermal and a nice beach space as the tide dropped. This is what we got for day one to kick the things off, but day two was to see a full on storm front hit Pak Nam Pram making things very exciting indeed!
It was to be the course racers that opened the KTA Thailand finals on the first afternoon, which saw the day closing with Madier Renaud (France) and Bjorn Jensen (Demark) in equal first position. For the women Kathrin Borgwardt (Germany) was to dominate things to hold the lead after the first day.
Day two with its dark skies, strong side shore winds and next to no beach made the decision for the freestyle event to take place and the competitors battled it out for most of the day in extremely hard riding conditions putting on an amazing show for the gathered spectators at the Evason. The day was to be sadly cut short mid afternoon as the threatened rainstorm finally hit, making further competition impossible. Riding well though before the stop and certainly in contention for the podium positions were Ken Nacor (Philippines) Narapichit Pudla Yo (Thailand) Lai Hong Phi (Vietnam) Sedat Celenk (Turkey) Hironobu Nakano (Japan) and Sebastian Bubmann (Germany). It was all still there to play for in the second half of the finals.
Day’s three and four of the event where given a miserable forecast of low to no winds, not ideal of course for a kiteboard competition. However the typhoon driven side shore wind was to hold on day three, giving the riders a full day of both freestyle and course racing competition. Both the men’s and the women’s single eliminator freestyle competitions were completed with wins in the end for Hironobu Nakano in the men’s section and Kathrin Borgwardt in the women’s. The day was then completed with three more hard fought course races that was starting to see Renaud establish himself as the clear leader for the men, while over with the women it was again Borgwardt who was showing herself to be fully on form in all areas of her kiting.
For the final day of competition the winds switch once again to the more normal cross onshore conditions. The wind strength had also dropped a little, meaning not quite enough power for a second double eliminator round of freestyle to be held. So it was once again the course racers who took centre stage to see the KTA Thailand finals through to the close of play. A further two races were to take place before the wind finally faded in the early afternoon, those two races confirmed Ranaud’s and Borgwardt’s command on the their respective male and female race fleets. Although each was pushed hard in each race by Jensen and Bubmann in the men’s side of the action while in the women’s races Hill Sui ( Hong Kong) Vicky Cannaerts (Belgium) and Aya Oshima were doing their best to upset Borgwardt’s plans. However, in the end the two were able to hold out and take the first slots in each fleet.
All that remained now was for the winners to receive their prizes fro all their efforts out on the water. Being not only the fifth round of the KTA but also the tour finals, not only would the event winners be receiving awards but also the KTA Tour Champions and the first ever Asian Champions. To do this justice the Evason hosted a gala awards dinner at its beachfront pool area’s and a lavish scene met the riders as they settled in for the evening’s undertakings. Following the dinner proceedings traditional and later some not so traditional Thai dancers entertained the awards crowd before the prize giving ceremony began. The KTA fifth round event prizes were presented to the winning riders by the Evason’s Regional Manager Peter Nilsson with the KTA Tour Champions and Asian Champions being given by Khun Wira Siwatthanatakun, Governor of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
The overall KTA Tour Champion is a title that is open to the top male and female riders in each of the disciplines which is open to any nationality, to be crown Asian Champion however the rider must have been born in Asia. IN the case of the men’s title’s it was to be a proud night for Thailand and the Evason as their sponsored rider Narapichit Pudla Yo was to take all the men’s overall KTA Tour titles and Asian Champion also. For the women Katherin Borgwardt was crown KTA Tour Champion with Hong Kong’s Hill Sui lifting the Asian Championship.
Following the prize giving the event and the first ever Kiteboard Tour of Asia was drawn to a close by Khun Wara Siwattanatakun, in a speech that praised the skill of the riders and welcomed them again to compete in Thailand in the coming years. Kiteboarding is one of the world’s fastest growing sports and KTA the newest opportunity in that sport for up and coming riders to compete and reach towards the future potential of the professional world championships and perhaps one day the Olympics for which the sport is currently seeking official status. Asia through the KTA tour is showing that it is getting ready to except that challenge and Pak Nam Pram has showed for Thailand that it is a location that is destined to play a growing part in it also.
So it’s the end for the first KTA tour and all of us would like to extend one last big thank you to all the help and support we have received from everyone to help this endeavour to become the reality it has. A special thank you to all the different local sponsors that supported the individual tour stops as we travel around and our local tour organisers in each country, FNCN and Fly 59 in China, KHKA in Hong Kong, C2sky and Sankara in Vietnam, Hangin for the Philippines and Kite Zone and the Evason for Thailand.
Our final thank extends to our headline tour sponsor that brought us not only a fantastic finals but also enabled us to function through the tour the Evason Six Sense Hau Hin. Also supporting us throughout our supporting tour sponsors Carbrinha, Maelstorm, SueMe, Kite Zone, Action Asia, KeepClicking, Kiteforum and the Kiteworld Magazine, so a massive thanks to you all as well guys.
Which just leaves us to say, keep watching this space lots of interesting and exciting things are on the boil. So keep practicing hard and we will see you on the next KTA !!
KTA Thailand Winners
KTA Tour Champions