Frank Wittke

This has been a good summer for F-One team rider Frank Wittke, a native of France who has lived in the Bay Area since 1986 . After winning the Grand Master World Championship Kiteboard Course Racing title on August 8 in San Francisco, the 50-year-old rider finished 1st kiteboarder in the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race on September 3. In its eighth year, this race once again attracted kiteboarders, windsurfers and 18’skiff dinghy sailors under the Golden Gate Bridge for this one-of-a-kind 7.5-mile downwind race to the Oakland Bay Bridge. This year the wind conditions varied from 20-25 knots at the start of the race, (with a nasty chop created by a powerful ebb that caused numerous boats to capsize before the race even started), to an anemic 0 to 5 knot at the finish line.

For the second year in a row, the skiffs finished first slightly under 20 minutes, taking advantage of their few hundred square feet of sail area in the no wind bubble just North of the Bay Bridge, while kiters who had led the way, some by a 5 minute margin, were struggling to keep their kites in the air. Just 59 seconds after the 1st boat and 21 seconds after the second Australian skiff, Frank Wittke powered his way through the finish line ahead of another dinghy, a second kiteboarder Marcelo Segura, and a third kiter Jamy Donaldson.

At the awards ceremony, when asked to describe his strategy for the race, Frank replied, ”as a teacher, I tell my students that the fastest course from point A to point B is a straight line, not a zig-zag. I followed by own advice this year, and I guess it paid off!”

Wittke told us later that equipment choice was crucial. “Right until the last minute, I hesitated between my surfboard and my 6’ Amundson custom shaped race board that I used during the “Worlds”. I knew it would be tough to ride in the chop but that it would give me enough float to ride through the lulls at the finish. I also stuck with my biggest kite, the 12m F-One bandit dos that has a huge range.”

Wittke got a good start, just a few seconds after the gun shot, right next to the boat. Chip Wasson, second place finisher overall at the ”Worlds”, soon crossed his path and decided to position himself closer to Alcatraz and Treasure Island in hopes of finding more wind. Wittke decided not follow the leader and to do his own thing instead. Sure enough, the wind slowly backed off and 200 yards from the finish line, the whole group went down, struggling to keep kites in the air. The racers waded in the water for 2 or 3 minutes while the boats grew steadily closer. Since Wittke was upwind of the rest of his struggling partners, he caught a little puff and succeeded in waterstarting and staying on top of his board while power stroking his kite up to the finish line, crossing with a big smile and a loud “allez la France”.

Read more...

2009 PKRA Greece at Paros

The final day of the Paros World Cup 2009 organized and led by Lefteris Maniadakis closed to a perfect day despite the light winds.  Weather conditions were warm and sunny with temperatures reaching 25 degrees Celsius. 

The mandatory riders meeting got underway at 10:00 am as race director, Olaf Van Tol stated that he would postpone the scheduled events due to the nearly non-existent wind in hopes that the updated forecast would change. 

Racers, organizers as well as a few locals decided to make the best of the last hours here in beautiful Paros, Greece.  What better way to cool off than to take a dip in the warm Mediterranean Sea.  A few sportive individuals went for wakeboarding sessions as well as some off-road fun.

Event organizer Lefteris Maniadakis announced at 2:00 pm that the wind forecast would not increase therefore the competition has sadly come to an end.

The awards ceremony was held on the beach at 2:30 pm.  Spectators watched as organizers and supporters presented the awards to all the winners. 

 A total of 11 races were held during the 5-day event.  German rider Kristin Boese (Best) is taking home the championship trophy for the women’s division. Greek first time racer Felicia Constandopoulou (Best) proudly walks away in second place followed by Maria Tampa (Naish, GRC) in third.

As expected, French rider Bruno Sroka (Cabrinha) steels the show for the men’s division, winning all 11 races followed by German rider Dirk Hanel in second place.  Julien Kerneur (Takoon, FRA) made a lot of progress throughout the competition managing to take third place in this event.

Read more...

2009 PKRA Greece at Paros 

The sun was peaking through the clouds this morning as the racers made their way to the beach to prepare for today’s course races.

Race director, Van Tol announced at the 10:00 am rider’s meeting that he and his crew set an even longer course than yesterdays.  The riders had to race in the form of a zigzag, making this a very artistic, and stylish course.  It was an amazing view to see all the colorful kites from the helicopter that hovered above the course this afternoon.

The wind was still pretty light as the first race of the day began, but the riders prepared themselves for the lighter wind conditions as they pumped their 12-14m kites.  Cumulonimbus clouds started to cluster as the racers made their way through the first cycle of the first race.  It is very unusual and nearly unheard of having rain during this time of year in beautiful, warm and sunny Paros.  Sometimes you just can’t predict the weather.  Weather facts state that monthly rain precipitation averages for the month of September here in Paros, Greece are between 0.01 and 0.00 cm, making today’s forecast surely uncommon.  If we only could have caught the culprit who must have been doing some sort of rain dance on the beach last night…

Bruno Sroka (FRA, Cabrinha) finished yet again in the number one position followed by fellow French native Julien Kerneur (Takoon).  Kerneur is a rider that Sroka must keep an eye out for as he keeps creeping his way up the ranking list, finishing in the second position in the past three consecutive races. German rider Dirk Hanel (North) finishes third in today’s race.  

Read more...