With an awesome support from the kiteboarding community around the world, the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association (PKRA) – the globally recognized professional kiteboarding organization is once again here in Portugal to host two major kiteboarding events – the Kite Masters Portimão World Tour 2008 and the second annual Kiteboard Course Racing World Tour.
The former, dubbed the “most challenging” kiteboarding competition brings together some of the best freestyle kiteboarders competing in a different group format while the course racing competition is a true test of wit and endurance where some of the hardest-hitting kiteboard-racing actions of the PKRA World Tour unfolds. These premium events will run until the 13th of July here at Praia de Alvor, Portimão, south of Portugal.
Today marked the opening day of these prestigious events with a warm, perfect weather greeting the competition, although the much sought-after wind which fuels the games was late to arrive. After a long period of waiting, the games started at 4:00 pm with the course racing events hitting the waters, finishing the first to last race over a period of 3 hours. The races took about 15 – 20 minutes each under light and variable winds of 8-16 knots.
“After a long wait for the wind, we finally got some gust coming through and decided to go for a 4 o’clock start,” said race director Olaf Van Tol.
In the highlights of today’s races, French legend and North Kiteboarding’s Charles Deleau (FRA) won the last two races, only loosing the first race to Best Kiteboarding’s Sami Gali (ESP). The two-time world champion now leads the pack in the men’s division with 3.4 points followed by Gali’s 4.7 who had an early lead in the first race.
“I had a very impressive day. We tried the new board for the first time in the competition so we’ll know where we are compared to the other ones. My best race was the first one, then in the second race I dropped dramatically in the middle because I was sinking in a small board which made me change boards in the third race,” said Gali, who currently ranks 3rd in the course racing standings.
Another North kiteboarding legend, Sean Farley (MEX) is currently in third place with 10 points. The second race proved to be the most challenging for the racers with only eight competitors crossing the line out of 17.
In the women’s division, Best Kiteboarding’s Gina Esteva (ESP) had two early leads, winning the first two races ahead of North’s Steph Bridge (GBR) and Cabrinha’s Fabienne D’Ortoli (FRA) who finished second and third overall respectively. Bridge, who won the 2007 Course Racing World Championship crossed the finish line first in the last race ahead of the five women in the event.
“We started the race in super light winds but ended up with stronger winds so I finished with a 3-2-1 position for the three races, improving in each race,” said Bridge.
The Kite Masters Portimao World Cup 2008 is presented by the GEST Group under the general direction of Erich Steffen with Eduardo Piloni as the event coordinator. The event is sponsored by the City of Portimão and supported by Radio Comercial, Lipton tea, Planet Kiteboarding and Expoarade.