Kiteboard Course Racing World Championship

After seven qualification rounds, six championship races, and a final medal race, Sean Farley (MEX, North) and Steph Bridge (GBR, North) took victory at the 2009 kiteracing world championships, held at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco.

The competitors today looked happy to be on the final day of competition yet nervous about the tight battles forthcoming.

The skies were blue on the beach with a thin strip of fog in the middle of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge completely engulfed in the fog.

The course was set and the wind was up in time for a 2:00 start and the gold fleet took to the water for two races.

The first race saw all racers start on Starboard with Jensen leading the field out to the middle of the bay with Farley and Wasson right behind him. Chip Tacked early and took the inside line. the fleet seemed to notice and all tacked behind him.

While it looked like Chip made a great tactical move, he hit a hole on his way up on the inside and much of the fleet caught up to him. Farley rounded the windward mark first then Leroy followed by Heineken and then Wasson.

At the leeward mark the order remained the same but the riders tightened up a bit. As the racers made their way up to the windward mark it became a race for second with an even heavier battle in the pack behind. Farley rounded first, then Wasson, then Heineken. The tight pack behind came in with Leroy taking 4th, then Hanel then Kafka.

The pack really tightened up in this final day and While the top 3 guys seemed to be pretty dominant, it seemed that the next 10 spots were up for grabs.

The second race saw Chip Wasson getting a great start and Johnny Heineken getting stuffed on the start. Farley was a bit low and Chip got out way ahead. Chip again chose to take the inside line and this time Damien stuck close with him.

They opened up a big lead on the rest of the fleet and rounded the mark way ahead of the field. As they sailed around the leeward mark it was still Chip followed by Damien with Farley trailing pretty far behind them.

The rest of the fleet was even further behind and it was really a race for the top 3 spots as Chip, Damien and Farley worked their way up the inside. Damien Tacked first and Chip and Farley went almost all the way to the beach before they tacked and found themselves struggling through a hole on the inside. Damien hit the finish line first, then Chip then Farley.

The last day of racing left the racers in these positions going into the Medal Heat where points were doubled:

1. Sean Farley 13
2. Chip Wasson 22
3. Johnny Heineken 36
4. Damien Leroy 43
5. Bruno Sroka 46
6. Jesse Richman 60
7. Bjoern Rune Jensen 67
8. Dirk Hanel 67
9. Sky Solbach 72
10. Michael Gebhardt 76

This left Wasson with the only mathematical shot at beating Farley and taking the World Championship.

On the Women's side it was still Steph Bridges finishing strong in every race (20, 22) 17 overall and Kristin Boese close behind her (23, 26) 26 overall. Setting up a Medal Heat with:

1. Steph Bridges 135
2. Kristin Boese 204
3. Melissa Gill 271
4. Sandy Parker 286
5. Katja Roose 297
6. Paula Sonnenberg 315

The silver fleet took to the course for one more race to settle things between the locals. Chris Brown lead the fleet out with Aguera and Jim (cupcake) Keenan right behind him. They rounded the course in that order with Brown taking a fall and almost giving up his lead and Cupcake taking a fall that almost allowed Geleynse to catch him and steal his coveted 3rd place finish.

The Silver Fleet wrapped up with all locals taking the top 3 spots:

1. Eric Geleynse 116
2. Chris Brown 121
3. Bruce Johnson 127

That lead us into our Women's metal fleet which started with all but Kristin and Sandy over early generating a general recall. In the second (and clean) start, it was Steph breaking out to the early lead on the shortened championship course. Kristin was far behind her but also had a huge lead over the next woman, Melissa Gill. They completed 3 laps and finished in this order.

1. Steph Bridge 137
2. Kristin Boese 208
3. Melissa Gill 278

The winds began to fill in again enough for Leroy to head out first for the men's medal round on a 9m kite with the rest of the field on 11m - 13m kites. In the first start, Gebhardt started incorrectly which generated a general recall.

The second start had the field split on starboard and port and saw Wasson and Heineken jump out to the early lead. Heineken rounded the windward mark first, followed by Wasson and then the rest of the pack a ways behind.

As the pack came up to the windward mark a second time Heineken was leading the way with Chip right behind him when the first major incident occurred. It was like Heineken ran into a wall and Chip hit it right behind him.

The rest of the pack was stuck behind them but Bruno managed to sneak through and around the windward mark and then take off with a huge lead going downwind.

While the racers were stacked up on the windward mark Jensen was able to squeak around the mark and Farley dropped below and tacked into a huge lift on port passing the fleet and rounding the mark on his way to chase down the leaders.

There was no catching Bruno. He was so far ahead he could cruise to the rest of the race. As he rounded the windward mark the last time he looked back to see the fleet a quarter-mile behind him.

As he approached the finish line, the crowd looked on in horror and disbelief as he went outside the finish line markers and started heading for the leeward mark. Was he confused or had we all miscounted the laps.

The answer was clear when almost a minute later, Bjoern Jensen came across the line and the gun sounded followed by Farley, Richman, Wasson, Solbach, Heineken, Hanel, Sroka, Gebhardt then Leroy.

Final results:
1. Sean Farley 17
2. Chip Wasson 30
3. Johnny Heineken 48
4. Bruno Sroka 62
5. Damien Leroy 63
6. Jesse Richman 66
7. Bjoerne Rune Jensen 69
8. Dirk Hanel 81
9. Sky Solbach 82
10. Michael Gebhardt 94

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