KSP PHOTOS - John Bilderback
The first ever stop of the Kitesurf Pro World Championship Tour will go down in history as the best kitesurf event ever and has broken new ground within the sport of kitesurfing. With pumping wind and waves hitting the One Eye reef at Le Mourne on the paradise island of Mauritius, the world's best kitesurfers showcased their talent and the sport of wave riding to the world, live on the web thanks to, Extremience and the KSP video crew.
The buzz on the beach has been amazing with riders from around the globe coming together, all with the same goal in mind of pushing the sport forward and riding the best waves in the world. Legends of the sport such as Herve Boure (FRA), Sky Solbach (USA), Marc Ramsier (SUI) and former World Champions Kristin Boese (GER), Jesse Richman (HAW), Mitu Monterio (CBV), Guilly Brandao (BRA) were joined by young and old unheard of names in the sport of kitesurfing outside their respective countries such as Mauricio Pedreira (BRA) at age 36 and Ozzie Smith (RSA) at 16. The UK was represented by myself, Lee Harvey and 4 time race world champ Steph Bridge.
Before the event some huge swells had been coming in and riders were claiming best kite waves ever, which is hard to believe, until I arrived on Tuesday 20th and it was 8-10ft grinding bar rels with cross-off 7m weather. This place is simply amazing, windy every day with swell after swell coming through and even the small days still kicking up a very ride able 2ft on at least one of the three waves on the outside of the lagoon. After three days of practise, a meeting on the judging criteria an d general info on how the tour will run, we got down to business with the event kicking off on Friday evening.
On Saturday we were awoken by thunder on the reef from the huge waves. The wind however was slow to awake and after a quick expression session to assess the conditions and the judges to get a scoring scale, I was up in the first heat around 3pm. Round one consisted of three riders with the winner advancing to round three and the losers moving to round two.
Riding my 9m 2012 North Rebel and strapless 6'3 Resin8 Tokoro I was up against the local video trials winner and an unknown rider from Reunion Island. I narrowly missed out on the win by 0.3 of a point to the local, which left me miffed as I only scored a 2.6 for my first wave which was a huge wave in the 12ft range. However, looking back I remember thinking as I was dropping in that I couldn't see the judges tower with the other two riders on the two waves in front; lesson learnt for Peru! With the wind dying the contest director called it for the day with five of the men's round one heats still to run.Sunday dawned a little smaller but still pumping around 6ft and after the two remaining men's heats, Steph was first up in the ladies, easily advancing riding strapless with powerful turns in the critical section. The big upsets of the day were former wave world champs, Mitu Monteiro and Guilly Brandao both losing, thus drawing each other in round two!
Next up for me was French legend and fellow North rider, Jeremie Eloy, who's been charging really heavy waves such as Teahupoo lately. Commentating all morning watching some amazing rides with long open sections, I elected to stay down in front of the judges while Jeremie rode further upwind on the softer Chamioux section. Scoring a great first wave I couldn't get another to open up, and taking a heavy beating which left my ears ringing I bowed out of the comp. The day ended after the end of the ladies round two with the big news of the day that; Mitu won against Guilly.
The level of riding that followed was simply insane, with over half of the men's riders going strapless, this event has truly pushed the sport of kite wave riding to new levels with all of the final four going up against each other with Mitu riding both ways and Jesse the only full time back-sider. In the women's Steph was unlucky to come against local wildcard Ninja Bichler in the semis where she narrowly lost after electing to ride straps for the first time in the yet again triple overhead barrelling waves, while Kristin crashed her kite and lost her heat to French rider Marie Gautron.
The finals went down the next day in slightly smaller waves, but what an amazing show and I'll leave the full report to the KSP press team. I would like to congratulate the winners, Airton Cozzolino and Ninja Bichler who were deserved winners after being the standouts all week. I've also got to thank the whole KSP team, judges, local organisers and Indian resort for putting on the best event I've been to by far. Also photographer, JB who, in his own words, has the best photos from any watersports event or location he's ever been to.
Big thanks to my sponsors without whom I would not be able to represent Cornwall and the UK on the KSP World Tour: Sportif, North, BKSA, Resin8, Freeriders, Wiley X, Rip Curl.
And of course Tara and my whole family for their continued support.
Bring on Peru!
READ OUR FULL REPORT AND SEE BILDERBACK'S GALLERY IMAGES IN ISSUE #54 Click here for more on issue #54