Aaron Hadlow conquers the 2009 PKRA France

The third day of the Mondial Du Vent 2009 started again with cold weather and light rain. The mandatory skippers meeting was held right on schedule at 09:00h but due to the high winds, there was a decision to postpone the start to let the winds subside a little.

A decision to switch between starting with the women from yesterday’s postponed heat and starting with the men caused a little confusion for Kevin Langeree (Naish, NED) and Sebastien Garat (RRD, FRA) who weren’t able to check back at the announced time of 10:30h to hear the switch in plans.

As a result, the two riders missed their respective heats by several minutes in the singles semi-final round which started at 10:45h.

The action-packed, edge-of-your-seat event ensued but unfortunately for Tom Hebert (Airush, New Caledonia), who wasn’t able to duplicate his strong performance yesterday lost to a fired-up Youri Zoon (Slingshot, NED) who unleashed a ton of moves in the 13th heat.

The schedule change enabled Reno Romeu (North, BRA) to secure enough moves for the win against a late Kevin Langeree who came storming out but crashed a few landings early on.

Likewise, a late Seb Garat lost to Alex Pastor (Naish, ESP) in the 14th heat while Zoon and Romeu went head to head in the 15th heat with the former winning with higher technical difficulty score and more powered moves. Pastor took the third podium position, out-classing Romeu with more height and powered moves, landing a s-mobe, mobe 5, back to blind, s-bend to blind and kiteloop.

Aaron Hadlow (Flexifoil, GBR) however, was a man on a mission. He started off his heat with a win against Petr Tyuskevich (Flexifoil, RUS) with a lot of his signature moves. He then busted out a new wake style move in the 15th heat against Pastor.

Hadlow landed a Bel Air (air tantrum) to blind with an air pass for the very first time in a competition. Along with several other technical and powered moves, the PKRA World Champion easily moved to the final round against Zoon.

In a closely-fought heat, Hadlow once again went huge and technical while Zoon went a little more for power. Hadlow got through and took a 3-2 win with a mobe, blind judge, hasselhoff, s-bend to blind, shifty 3, tantrum, and a kiteloop-backloop with aerial pass while Zoon landed a blind judge with aerial handle pass, back to blind air pass, non-inverted slim, kiteloop-backloop and a front mobe.

The men’s double elimination started right off where the singles ended and there was no break between the two events which was at approximately 14:00h. The doubles elimination round concluded at 19:45h with the wind, even though up and down in intensity remained strong through the finals. The men were on their 7’s while the women were on their 5’s and 6’s for the most part.

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Mondial du Vent - 2009 PKRA France

Day 2 of the Mondial Du Vent 2009 in the city of Leucate, France started with a much colder temperature than yesterday. The temperature fell to 9° Celsius with wind chill near freezing point, which provided an extreme setting for the athletes that include some of the best kiteboarders in the world.

There was a light rain during the competition but that didn’t dampen the excitement of the athletes and the crowd. In fact, there were more people on the beach today compared to yesterday as the crowd was eager to see their respective favorites back in action.

The skippers meeting was held at exactly 09:00h with the Men’s trials event hitting the waters an hour and fifteen minutes later. After two rounds of trials and the ladder drawing for the Men’s singles, the main event took off at approximately noon.

New Caledonian Tom Hebert (Airush) started off the main event with an awesome display of kiteboarding in the super strong winds providing a spectacle to the crowd on the beach. Hebert, who was up against Alberto Rondina (Cabrinha, ITA) proved to be the better man, landing huge kiteloops and handle pass moves.

Meanwhile, an unfortunate and rare accident transpired in the following heat involving local rider Vincent Tiger (F-One) with his board flying into his face after a failed move causing injury.

The French rider was assisted out of the water and was tended by the event doctors before he was taken to the local hospital where he is now listed in stable condition. The competition went on hold for approximately two hours after the incident and the rest of the day saw remarkable kiteboarding from the athletes.

The second heat saw a powered up and psyched Youri Zoon (Slingshot, NED) going for the moves, landing a blind judge with aerial handle pass, hasselhoff, s-bend to blind, a double s-bend, non-inverted slim, mobe and back to blind air pass. Mikael Blomvall (Nobile, SWE) struggled in the heat with some serious kite troubles, ending his run with just a front mobe and raley. Randy Hereman (F-One, NED) had an easy win in the same heat against local rider Thomas Paris (North, FRA) who landed a krypt.

Spanish rider Cesar Portas who ranked 8th overall last year had a strong start, displaying solid riding in the third heat defeating another local rider Mickael Neral. Brazilian Reno Romeu (North) also had a great start, landing a variety of solid moves versus Victor Borsuk (Naish, POL) who managed to stomp a non-inverted slim, 313 and mobe 5. Romeu’s solid variation, overall power and a higher technical difficulty score earned him the win.

In the 4th heat, Eli Zarka’s comeback to the PKRA World Tour was short-lived. Unfortunately for the Israeli rider, he was up against last year’s world number two – Kevin Langeree (Naish, NED) who went on with his famous bag of super-powered tricks including a 313, blind judge with aerial handle pass, slim, hasselhoff, back to blind air pass and a huge kiteloop – all executed in 30-knot winds. Benjamin DuPont (FRA) also defeated Johnno Scholte (Slingshot, NED) in the same heat with smoother style and cleaner landings.

Heat #5 was an easy win for Sebastien Garat (RRD, FRA) who was in his home turf against North rider Dan James (GBR) while the man from Down Under Andy Yates (Slingshot) had his day carved out for him, winning over Russian rider Sergey Delmesov (LF Kites) with more powered moves and variation.

World number 5 Alex Pastor (Naish, ESP) took an easy win in Heat #6a against Italian Erik Volpe (Hairus) with more technical difficulty and powered moves, landing an easy blind judge, back to blind air pass, s-bend to blind and a kiteloop – enough to beat Volpe’s blind judge with aerial handle pass and big airs. 

While everyone else were landing old-school moves, Lewis Crathern (Slingshot, GBR) displayed some radical moves and style enabling him to win over another local rider Antonin Rongim (Best) with a blind judge, flat 360 off the small rollers coming in and huge kiteloop-backloops.

Meanwhile, Russian Petr Tyuskevich cleanly landed a blind judge, s-bend to blind, blind judge with aerial handle pass, flat 360 and a slim in the 7th heat, easily edging out Stefann Maselli (Advance, ITA) who managed a kiteloop and big airs.

Austrian Michael Schitzhofer (JN Kites) also had his share of victory, winning with higher technical difficulty score against Sam Light (Naish, GBR) while Thomas Teixeira (RRD, BRA) took the last victory of the elimination round versus Matthieu Judie (Cabrinha, FRA) with a higher technical riding score plus cleaner landings.

In the second round, Mario Rodwald (North, GER) lost his kite during Heat #9 enabling Hebert to run away with the win and went big with a high handle pass mobe plus huge kiteloops against Rodwald’s blind judge 3 and 313. Strong riding from Zoon earned him another chance for the third round, beating Hereman with higher technical difficulty score. Zoon landed a clean blind judge with aerial handle pass, back to blind air pass, front mobe, s-bend to blind with air pass and a non-inverted slim while Hereman landed a slim, backroll and a raley.

In the 10th Heat, Romeu (ranked #11 overall) had an upset win against world number 8 Portas in a strong showing of kiteboarding skills, winning via technical difficulty and variation. The Brazilian champ landed a blind judge with aerial handle pass, 313, flat 360, back to blind air pass, mobe and blind. Another highlight of the day came courtesy of world championship contender Kevin Langeree who had an easy win over DuPont in Heat #10b, who jump over the crowd and got a lot of cheers in return.

The 11th Heat saw Garat taking advantage of the icy weather condition and strong winds busting out Yates who seemed out of sorts in the cold weather. The French rider took the win with a blind judge, front mobe and mobe 5 against the Aussie’s 313, blind judge and slimchance.

Also in the same heat, Pastor ended Crathern’s run with more technical difficulty score and variation, landing a blind judge with aerial handle pass, non-inverted slim, s-bend to blind and kiteloop while Crathern managed only a raley to blind, blind judge and a few kiteloops with his Slingshot.

Finally, the last heats of the day gave Tyuskevich and current World Champion Aaron Hadlow (Flexifoil, GBR) a win a piece against their respective opponents despite the biting cold. Shitzhofer lost to the Russian champ with less technical score while Teixeira bowed down to the reigning world champion.

The competition wrapped up for the day at 17:30h when the wind subsided completely causing the 5th heat of the women’s event to be cancelled for tomorrow. The mandatory skippers meeting is set for 09:00h with first possible start at 09:30h.

Mondial du Vent - 2009 PKRA France

The kick off event for the Official 2009 PKRA World Tour is in the beautiful city of Leucate, situated at the southwestern coast of France. The weather started out cold and wet with the temperature dropping as the day wore on.

The wind, however, was a no-show for the day showing little promise of improvement during the rain squalls that swept through the area in the morning. Average temperature was about 10° Celsius with periods of heavy rain until about noon which kept the crowds indoors until late afternoon when the weather finally started to improve.

Yesterday’s registration was a huge success with over 47 competitors from 14 different countries that have come to compete in the best and most recognized official world tour of kiteboarding that is known as the PKRA. Registration started at approximately 16:00 and concluded around 19:00 local time.

Today’s skipper meeting got underway at 10:00 where Sami Gali, PKRA Head Judge, introduced the panel of 6 judges for this event and covered regular pre-competition information such as format and judging criteria. There was also an announcement that a riders meeting would be held at 14:30 to discuss the events that have transpired since the tour concluded last year in Chile.

During the riders meeting PKRA Tour President Mauricio Toscano and Vice President Paul Caswell gave a full description of the PKRA, IKA, ISAF discussions and why the PKRA ended up seeking separate recognition from ISA as an alternative to the failed mediation between the IKA and PKRA.

It should be noted that the mediation party, ISAF, was not considered an impartial mediator since ISAF represents IKA as one of their own members and could not offer an objective view to the concerns that the PKRA raised from the beginning of the negotiations.

The opinion from the athletes was that of overwhelmingly support and agreement in the PKRA’s management decisions. Other business covered in the meeting was nominations for the new riders committee.

A vote will be held on Tuesday where only five athletes from the total nominations will be elected. The riders committee will discuss matters over the course of the 2009 tour year that concern the athletes such as rules, judging guidelines, points and discards.

Later in the day, with clearing skies, the crowds ventured out-doors and flooded the event site to try and get autographs or a glimpse of the best kiteboarders in the world who make up the official world tour of

At 17:30 there was a opening ceremony where some of the top riders where recognized on stage including Aaron Hadlow (5-Time PKRA World Champion, Flexifoil, UK), Kevin Langeree (Naish, NLD), Gisela Pulido (2-Time PKRA World Champion, Airush, ESP), Sebastian Garat (RRD, FRA) and Alex Caizergues (F-One, FRA).

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