Nothing beats the day than seeing these young, professional kiteboarding athletes go up against each other in a day of high-flying, wave-ripping, action-filled sports competition in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Warm weather, strong onshore wind plus the roaring crowd added to the excitement, as the freestyle event concluded with a huge success.
Today saw a lot more wind than yesterday, averaging 20-25 knots which began slightly onshore in the morning during the start of the first heat at 9:45 a.m., turning slightly more sideshore as the day wore on. The strong current caused a lot of difficulties for the Mexican crew particularly with the buoys.
The riders too had their share of intricacies at different intervals during the day staying upwind, but for the most part, it was just a problem of launching and landing as there wasn’t a whole lot of beach in the area. The beach was a bit crowded getting in and out but the riders made the best of it. The women went out with their 7s while the men were on 9s.
There was about shoulder-high waves coming in which made for good ramps for the riders to use for jumping and flat waters in between for landing tricks.
In the end the athletes gave outstanding performances considering that the current was working against them. The competition finished just in time at 3:20 p.m. before the bad weather came in.
Sebastien Garat (France, RRD) made good his promise to move up the ladder with a win over local boy Miguel Manzanilla (Best) in heat #18 but only made it through heat #22 as Tom Court (UK, North) knocked him out with bigger moves and more variety.
Lewis Crathern of UK stormed passed Nick Jacobsen of Denmark in their match up in heat #23 with several powered and low kite angle moves, including a slim blind judge with aerial handle pass and kiteloop handle pass. However, Lewis’ run came to an end at the hands of 18-year old Marc Jacobs (New Zealand, North) in heat #26 via a huge handlepass front mobe and a kiteloop double back mobe. Jacobs, who had a good run up the ladder today also took out Austria’s Michael Schitzhofer (Naish) in heat #28, winning with several big moves and more variety before finally tiring out and loosing to the well-rested Alvaro Onieva (Spain, Best).
“In the first heat, I was up against local boy Rojas Gutierrez, in the second heat against [Eric] Rienstra and then against Crathern from UK. Then I went up against Michael [Schitzhofer] whom I lost against in the singles but beat him this time. Then I went up against [Alvaro] Onieva and that’s where I got kicked out there. When I got up to Onieva, I was very tired. He was ripping and did very well while I had a lot of crashes,” commented this talented athlete from New Zealand.
Spain’s Alex Pastor (Naish) who’s one of the riders to watch this year started up his charge up the rankings with a narrow win over super Mario Rodwald (Germany) of North Kiteboarding. Mario rode very well and clean but the larger, more explosive moves of Alex brought him into the next round.
Onieva took a big stack in heat #32 and broke his kite in his match up with fellow countryman Cesar Portas (North). Aaron Hadlow (UK, Flexifoil) came to his rescue with his kite but the Movistar Athlete of the Game had lost too much time enabling Portas to take the win. Then like a dragon breathing fire, Portas smoked Youri Zoon (Netherlands, Slingshot) in heat #33 landing a blind judge 540 and front mobe 540, regular and switch back to blind airpass, outperforming Zoon with two double-pass moves inching his way up the ranking to meet Hadlow.
It took a well-prepared and well-rested Hadlow to distinguish the fire out of Portas in heat #34 with a heap of solid tricks including a front mobe to blind, regular and switch slim, regular and switch mobe, and a regular and switch back to blind airpass. Portas, who looked a little worn out in the game was out-powered by the world champ.
In the men’s final and in dying winds, Kevin Langeree (Netherlands, Naish) and Aaron Hadlow had a re-match, both rode extremely well landing several big and technical moves. It was a close 3-2 decision in favour of Aaron, somewhat contested but the riders at the beach thought Kevin won. It was a really tight match up between these two champions, a good title defense for Aaron and a showing of what’s up ahead for Kevin.
PKRA Judge David Tyburski said, “It was really a tight match between both of these athletes. The technical variety and innovative style that Kevin brought to the heat put him over the top for a lot of people on the beach but the judges’ 3-2 decision thought differently so Aaron took the win home.”
In the women’s events, Audrey Meyer (France, EH Kiteboarding) knocked out Jalou Langeree (Netherlands, Naish) in their match up in heat #14. Meyer landed several kiteloops and a big sent handle pass and krypt to surface pass, taking the win with more power and technical difficulty.
Karolina Winkowska (Poland, Naish) also took down American Julie Simsar (Liquid Force) in the same heat. Although Simsar landed a sent handle pass, Winkowska nailed a blind judge and s-bend to blind with airpass to take the win with more power and higher technical difficulty.
Angela Peral (Spain, North) won over Susi Mai (Germany, Cabrinha) in heat #17, landing a raley to blind, downloop to blind and a huge sent handlepas against Mai’s raley to blind and raley to wrapped. Peral’s win however was cut short by Gisela Pulido’s fury with a slim chance, front mobe and a 313 in the 18th heat of the game. Peral was not able to repeat the brilliance of her performance in the previous heat and settled for third overall.
“Today was very good because I got third in the ranking. It was a bit hard with the current and the wave but since I trained in Tarifa [Spain] and it is roughly the same condition, it was perfect for me,” said Angela.
The match between Bruna Kajiya (Brazil, Best) and Pulido in the finals was run in less than ideal condition because the wind was backing off and the current was more of an issue. Although the wind was dying out, Pulido still managed to land a front mobe, slim, 313 and blind judge over Kajiya’s non-inverted slimchance and blind judge with aerial handlepass. Bruna took the first podium position and as PKRA Judge Tyburski put it, “Again, I think quantity lost over quality. It was a really powered maneuver and it took the cake.”
Extreme Elements had the chance to interview Bruna right after the finals regarding her assessment about the game.
“Today was a really hard day for me. My first heat wasn’t so good and she [Gisela] won like 3-2 and it was really close so we had to do the second one. The second one was almost a nightmare for me. My kite got tangled and ended up all the way downwind, but it wasn’t my fault and I had to come back into the competition area. The current was like 15-knot current because I couldn’t even stand up. I think it was the most stressful time that I had on my whole career. And that distracted a lot of my heat. I only got it together by the last minute. I managed to do clean and powerful tricks and I thought I’ll just focus on doing not too many now because I don’t have that time but doing them good and powerful. So everything went well and I came out of the water and almost threw up, but it’s all good now, it’s all worth it. People on the beach helped me so much and gave me strength when I was running upwind.”
We also asked David Tyburski about his assessment of the first PKRA stop this season and his outlook regarding the athletes to watch, he has this to say: “There were really a couple of outstanding athletes in this event, but Youri Zoon was very surprising, made a really good charge, did very aggressive riding before coming out with a knee injury. Definitely looks like he’s got fire in his eyes so he’s definitely going to be one to watch this season.”
“Marc Jacobs, Alvaro Onieva and Alex Pastor are also definitely contenders to be in the podium this season. It’s just a matter of which people can pull out together for each heat. There are a lot of contenders but it’s just a matter of who is going to be consistent and pull out together heat after heat.”
1. Aaron Hadlow (UK, Flexifoil)
2. Kevin Langere (Netherlands, Naish)
3. Cesar Portas (Spain, North)
1. Bruna Kajiya (Brazil, Best)
2. Gisela Pulido (Spain, Slingshot)
3. Angela Peral (Spain, North)