Bruno Sroka and Steph Bridge secure lead of the 2009 PKRA Portimão in Portugal

June 26, 2009 | Kiteboarding

2009 PKRA Portimão

The morning started with a light drizzle on the beach but the rain clouds eventually dissipated. Overcast skies dominated the first half of the day with onshore winds which made the temperature seem quite chilly compared to the past few days.

The scheduled riders meeting of 1:00 pm went right on time and the start of the 4th race happened at around 2:00 pm which according to race director Olaf Van Tol, “turned out to be a good decision because we had a good window of an hour with wind.”

Excitement and controversy marked the second day of events. With the onshore winds, the riders started much closer to the beach, giving the crowd an impressive spectacle to watch as the 35 kites jockeyed for position.

The first race was completed without incident. After the first race, the wind started shifting and after a little break, the wind continued to shift more so the race director announced a lunch break before the next race.

The second race of the day (Race #5 of the event) got underway at around 4:15 pm. From the perspective of the people on the beach, it looked like another good race was about to unfold for the day.

However, the wind gradually died down and by the end of the race, only nine guys and one lady crossed the finish line and many competitors had to be rescued in the waters.

After much discussion on the beach about the validity of the second race due to less than 50% of the competitors finishing, it was decided the race would stand since the PKRA is now operating under ISAF/IKA racing rules and not under its own previous rules which the riders had become accustomed to in the past.

So after finishing another two races, the leader board still shows Bruno Sroka (Cabrinha, FRA) on top with 2.8 total points followed by Abel Lago (RRD, ESP) in second with 13.7 points and Jesse Richman (Cabrinha, USA) in third place with 14 points.

EETV interviewed the 2007 world champion about his new kite from Cabrinha after winning yesterday’s three races. He is very much excited about Cabrinha's new line, describing them as “totally different and spectacular in performance.” This year, Bruno Sroka is back in action after much preparation off-season and is eyeing this year’s World Championship title.

“Last year we worked on improving the boards and I had a different goal last year so I lost a few events. You can say that last year was just for fun. But this year, I worked really hard. I went to Maui for one month to train before going to San Francisco (USA) for one month to meet my board designer and worked on developing the board and to test all the good kites. The new board is good because I don’t have to change board every time, so whatever the wind speed is, the board performs perfectly. I won one event in San Francisco, two European Championships and two KPWT titles,” explained Sroka.

Meanwhile, Sean Farley (North, MEX) who is currently tied with teammate Charles Deleau (FRA) in fourth place commented about the race conditions after finishing two second places and failing to finish today’s last race.

“The conditions are fairly good. Weird direction with a lot of thermal influence so there was a huge wind shift and was very on and off. The wind was light but good enough for a 14-m kite for all my races. Very big wind shifts but I was talking about this a while ago that I’ve never really seen a kiteboarder on the race really play the wind shifts. The fewer maneuvers you do to get to the weather mark, you’re better off, so overall, just head for the weather mark with the fewest tacks possible,” explained Farley.

Off-season, the Colima native said he spent quite some time at home before going to Texas to test and help with the design of the new boards. “We did that right before the US Nationals and the North American Course Continentals. The board works real well,” said Farley.

“Last week I got the first race against Bruno (Sroka). I think he’s been preparing all season in Maui. His board is really fast but we’re really close behind. I actually outpointed him but he moves a lot faster, always going at a faster speed. I was actually leading the first race, so that means I can beat him but overall, he’s just a bit faster. Either he screws up in the middle of the race or I have to be really on my stuff to beat him. I think a few more fine adjustments on the board especially with fins and we’ll be there,” remarked the two-time Mexican champion.

Farley recently came back from the competition in Sylt, Germany along with Sroka but based on what we’ve heard from our interview, the two riders were really not happy with the outcome of the events. “Things just didn’t happen correctly and we even ran into some rocks there in the last race that was right on the course.

Bruno (Sroka) and I were protesting because we were upfront and the ones that hit that rock. That race shouldn’t have been held with such an obstruction in the course, but they claim it was our fault for going over there. Anyway, that wasn’t all too pleasant.

In the end we got a redress and that was about it. So we just as riders hope for the best, but really hope for the Tours to take care of us and really mind the riders right now because I think that’s what’s gonna make or break them,” lamented the 2007 Champion.

Meanwhile, in the women’s division, all is too perfect for Steph Bridge (North, GBR) who still dominates the scoreboard with 2.8 points after winning both races and beating a lot of the guys. Bridge is followed by Fabienne D’Ortoli (Naish, FRA) in second with 8 points and Nayara Licañao of Brazil in third place with 10 points after failing to finish the second race.

Asked whether she’s riding under pressure, Bridge has this to say:

“Yeah, there’s always pressure isn’t there? There’s even more pressure when you’ve won before. You’ve got to come back and win again. So there is pressure for sure, so I’m always striving to get better. I’m up front at the moment but anything can happen.”

Meanwhile, challenger Fabienne D’Ortoli who recently changed kite sponsor from Cabrinha to Naish also was quite happy with the results of her races.

“Yes, I’ve changed sponsor earlier this year, in March actually - after seven years with Cabrinha and it’s cool. I’m really happy. Changes are really good in life. It’s perfect for races and I had a pretty good results so I’m happy.”

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