Asian Freestyle Champions
1. Ken Nacor (Phl) (Cabrinha)
2. Yo Narapichit Pudla (Tha) (Ozone/Underground)
3. Long Nguyen Duc (Vie) (Kinn)
1. Aya Oshima (Jpn) (Naish)
2. Paula Rosales (Phl) (Cabrinha/Liquid Force)
3. Dorothy Serrano (Phl) (North)
Asian Course Race Champions – RB Class
1. Yo Narapichit Pudla (Tha) (Ozone/Underground)
2. Kookiat Sakulfaeng (Tha) (Slingshot)
3. Chanon Phrakaew (Tha) (Slingshot)
1. Aya Oshima (Jpn) (Naish)
2. Fon Benyapa Jantawan (Cabrinha)
3. Liezl Tio (Phl) (North/Valhalla)
It has been an action packed week at the Kite Zone KTA Thailand. It all kicked off with the second visit to the KTA tour by nine times World Champion Kristin Boese and her KB4Girls coaching clinic world tour. KB4Girls combines a pro-clinic with the KTA competition to introduce new girls into the event side of kiteboarding and to coach the all the girls to improve not just their personal riding levels but also their knowledge of better to compete and perform. The three day coaching clinic began with an early registration for the girls and then over to the Black Mountain cable park after no wind day on rego day. So the freestylers had the best of day one, but with Kristin on the beach coaching for the following two days as the competition unfolded the racers also got their chance for some personal coaching support. For the second season now we have seen that the encouragement and bonding that comes for the girls from linking the KB4Girls with one of the KTA tour stops has attracted more girls out onto the water to compete, which is something we look forward to continuing and growing further in future seasons.
The competitions got fully underway the next day and the classic conditions gave both racers and freestylers the best of events for the KTA Thailand at Pak Nam Pran Beach. As it was the 11/12 season Asian Freestyle finals and the Asian Course Race Championships, there would be a lot at stake for a lot for the riders and certainly as the battles unfolded and positions swapped and changed during the week no one was disappointed.
It was decided at the start of this season the Asian Freestyle tour titles would be based on three selected tour stops rather than the full tour circuit to give riders with less travel opportunities and funding to be in with an even chance of competing for the overall Asian titles. The Thailand round has this season been linked together with the Asian Course Race Championship event to give Thailand a full Asian title focus and with 68 riders from 24 Nationalities registered it shows the international appeal the KTA now has.
The wind throughout the event was fairly consistent with each day starting to build in the late morning allowing the race boards to kick off proceedings before noon. Then as the wind filled in with the daily thermal the event would switch to TT racing and then finally over to the freestylers. Only the first and last days would break this pattern with day one being the extra day added at this event for the Asian Course Race Championships and the last only producing an between of 12-14kts in the afternoon due to an overnight storm. It was enough wind however though to give the RB Class perhaps fittingly the final outing of the event (overall race tally of 20 races between the TT and RB) but unfortunately just not enough to finish the freestyle double elimination finals which had been left poised from the day before.
In the Open Asian Course Race RB class it was to be front end scrap between Demark’s Bjorn Jenson, Turkey’s Salih Cakir and Thailand’s Yo Narapichit Pudla, along with another emerging Thai rider for the first time in the thick of things, Kookiat Sakulfaeng. It was clear from the Thai National Competition in Hua Hin the weekend before the KTA that there is growing strength and depth in Thailand’s course racing scene, which was to come through during the KTA on all racing fronts. The men’s RB Class throughout was a hard fought affair with riders from Japan, China, Philippines and Hong Kong all putting in good performances, but the fiercest competition decided the two top slots with Bjorn and Salih, who finished in the end in that order, with Yo in third position.
For girls RB Class the KTA Tour Race Champion Kathrin Borgwardt held onto the top slot but was being pushed hard by the two Swiss riders, Rachel Hollinger and Astrid Berz, but her biggest rival would be another of Thailand new racing prospects Fon Banyapa Jantawan, who in her first international event showed great potential and a lot of speed out on the course, taking two wins over Kathrin during the week. In the end though Kathrin’s race experience showed through and she maintains her dominance in women’s course racing in Asia. For the Swiss attack it would be Rachel who would edge ahead of her team mate to take up the third medal position.
The finals of the Asian Freestyle Tour has gave three days of high quality competition as the mid-afternoon winds cranked up and the flat water lagoons appeared along the beach front in the falling tides, you really cannot ask for more except perhaps just one more hour of strong enough wind on that final day to complete the doubles, but that’s wind sports for you, you go with what you given.
Freestyle in the KTA this season has attracted a lot more visiting riders than before and Thailand was no exception with riders from the UK, Poland, Germany, Holland and France in the mix. After the completion of the single eliminators first place was held by Poland’s Marek Rowinski, Japan’s Hiro Nakano was in second and that Yo Narapichit Pudla in there once again in Third. This was as we now know to turn out to be the overall results for the competition, but not before we saw some great fight backs in the section of the double eliminations that was completed. This gave us in the end a situation we have not had on the KTA before and that was two third placed riders with only one loss each for the event - Jonathan Bleiker from the UK building on his singles position and creating the new double 3rd situation. The top two riders though were on fire and would have been hard to catch even with the extra final. Marek in particular showed what his winter season’s training in Vietnam had paid off to give him the win, but equally as impressive was Hiro back for the first time this season after a 6 mth lay off from kiting altogether due to studies, a rider for certain to keep an eye on once his college days have finished.
For the women Kristin Oja took the top place in another well fought single elimination round, it was very close indeed though with the Kiwi Su Kay in the finals, but Kristin’s more powerful moves kept her ahead. It was very good for us all to see Su back in action over here in Thailand after her knee blow out at the KTA last month in Vietnam, the wonders of hi-tech braces what would the sport do without them. Aussie Ali Dudfield found herself once again in the third, think she might now own the rights to this position by now, though due to the doubles she did share this time with Holland’s Nanette van der Snoek.
TWIN TIP RACING!
It was another good registration for the TT Class which remains a firm favourite at KTA events. TT is now in its third season so well as attracting new riders into the sport it also has a very seasoned crew who concentrate on TT racing only and the standards and competiveness equals that of the RB riders. In the men’s division Canada’s Max Rice created early controversy riding the Flysurfer dagger board which gave an added advantage to the upwind leg of the course. It’s not something that we have seen in KTA before, the board is TT for sure but not standard. So following protests and discussions with the riders, Max sportingly agreed to ride without the dagger board and showed that even without this added extra he still would maintain the top slot, so a good outcome all round in the end. Up there with Max though was yet another of Thailand’s good racers Suhaimee Modhammadksem, who was to gather the points to take him into second with Jay Ortis out of the Philippines close in there as well taking in 3rd. For the women’s TT we saw complete European rider dominance with Michalina Laskoska from Poland winning each race outright and dropping only one race in which she did not go out, to save herself for her freestyle event. Michalina was racing so powerfully that she often led the whole fleet. Current TT Champion Rebecka Maudal came through into second place keeping Ingrid Van der Heyden back in third.
But it’s still anyone’s Championship at this stage with plenty of racing to come for the TT Class over in the KTA Tour Finals that we were pleased to be able to confirm would now take place in China for the second week of May on the island of Ping tan which sits in the Taiwan Straits so good strong winds should be assured.
Behind the scenes for all of this was KTA Competition Director Stephan Hertig, who along with his freestyle judging team was for the Championship event joined by two International ISAF Race Officers Simon James and Andy Curnow. For both these guys it was their first full kiteboard competition, so something new to add to their many years of sailing experience and for us a great opportunity to learn from them. A big thanks from all of us for all the input and help, no job too big and no job too small cheers guys.
As hard as we work though, without our sponsors and local supporters the KTA would not leave the ground. Unfortunately again we had no presenting sponsor, but as seems to be the way this season we all pulled through to put out a great event and competition. So to KTA co-sponsor Cabrinha, brand sponsors Underground and Maelstorm cheers guys. Thank you also to our local support and sponsorship from the Beach House, Ley Café, Ali Baba, Chilly Bags and 720 Armour.
For all the full event and Championship results you can go to the results section on the top menu bar and for photos and event video’s check out the links via our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kiteboardtourasia