The final day of the 2008 PKRA World Tour’s first stop draws to a close with the wrapping up of the course racing event here at the beautiful beach of Playa del Carmen in the heart of Riviera Maya in Mexico.
Sideshore winds averaging 18-20 knots provided the fuel for a spectacular finish as the crowds gather at the beach to watch Mexican rider Sean Farley (North Kiteboarding) eat up the competition.
Farley, who won all but one race today, was the favored rider to win in this event. North teammate Charles Deleau of France who finished in second place after nine races was almost a whole 10-point behind Farley even after finishing first in the second race of the day.
Third man in the podium is Spain’s Sami Gali (Best Kiteboarding) who lost to last year’s overall champion Bruno Sroka (France, Takoon) in the first race but managed to come back in the third and fourth races to finish third and second respectively. Although winning the title last year, Sroka looked a bit rusty in the opening event of this season and only managed to finish in second place at best in every race.
In the women’s division, Steph Bridge (UK, North Kiteboarding) won first place overall even after loosing to teammate Angela Peral (Spain) in three of four races today. While Bridge came to the finish line ahead of the pack during the first race, Peral took the lead in the last three races but only managed to finish second overall. Bridge won a total of five out of nine races while Peral took home three with the rest coming in second place. Susi Mai (Cabrinha) of Germany came in third overall and was almost 11-point behind Peral in the point standings.
Race results (after nine races):
1. Sean Farley (Mexico, North Kiteboarding) – 4.9 points
2. Charles Deleau (France, North Kiteboarding) - 14.4 points
3. Sami Gali (Spain, Best Kiteboarding) – 17 points
1. Steph Bridge (UK, North) – 7.5 points
2. Angela Peral (Spain, North) – 10.1 points
3. Susi Mai (Cabrinha, Germany) - 21 points
Meanwhile, some of the people that we’ve talked to during and after the competition particularly a few of the judges and those who know the riders personally think that a lot of the competitors progressed much better last year than they did here in Mexico. As one observer put it, “They have about five months off to improve and I think they were kiting better last year than they did at this event. I think some of them are still a bit rusty but they’ve been working on other things such as the double handle passes so they can’t progress as quickly as they did last year.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the North Kiteboarding team as a whole performed exceptionally well in the course racing event. The team dominated the competition, winning the first two places both in the men and women’s division. After the games, we managed to interview course racing winner Sean Farley and asked him about his assessment of the game and his latest equipment.
“I was first on the first race and second to Charles on the second race. Kept North upfront and then pretty much cleaned out on the last two races, first and first. I overshot the weather mark on the second lap on the second race and that just gave him the spot to slide in. I was first on the first lap but got spaced out, went too far out in the channel. Quite a bit of a current out there so I just overshot the weather mark. I had a broad reach down to the finish line then there’s not much catching up going on. So he just rode in about 20-30 feet in front of me.”
But winning seven out of nine races is a big feat, and obviously North has come a long way in creating the prototype race board that Sean used in this event.
“We have the Phantom board which was a twin tip and we sort of went to this directional board. We’ve been working on it since last year but when you saw me on the tour last year I was on twin tip. What surprised me today was Angela [Peral] just came in right behind all us guys on that same Phantom board so it proves that that board is still a really good race board, but definitely this directional that we’ve been working on is mind blowing.”
When asked about his plans between now and the next event in Portugal, Sean added, “I’ll continue working with the [North] design team with Ken Winner and Sky Solbach. We work on kites all the time, about new ideas, boards, and other stuff. We will try to keep making these boards even better. I will also be competing in some big events in the USA, such as the US Wind and Water Open and US Nationals in San Francisco which hopefully could be a PKRA event and just wait for the three races which are very much back to back over in Europe - Portugal and Germany.”
The next course racing event will be happening in Portugal on July 15 - 20, 2008 while the next stop of the 2008 PKRA World Tour will be Leucate, France for the Mondial Du Vent 2008 happening on April 12 - 18, 2008.