The Professional Kiteboard Riders Association (PKRA) returned to Fuerteventura in full force for Day 1 of the Kiteboarding Grand Slam 2009 on July 18th. After the mandatory riders' morning meeting the opening games kicked off in Sotavento with the Freestyle event at 12:45 pm under overcast skies.
The ladies kicked off the days action and excitement having wind speeds ranging from 18 to 28 knots to play with. Although light the wind speeds were still strong and presented a sign of things to come with stronger gusts forcefully imposing themselves from time to time.
Joanna Litwin (Nobile, POL) dominated the first heat of the day, defeating Jalou Langeree (Naish, NED) with a very strong win, scoring high on technical difficulties. Litwin landed a 313, blind judge, s-bend to blind, slim, and a blind judge with aerial handle pass against Langeree’s blind judge, raley to blind and kiteloop.
North Kiteboarding’s Angela Peral (ESP) had an easy win over Laila Puehringer (Eclipse, AUT) in the second heat.
Karolina Winkowska (Naish, POL) defeated Susi Mai (Cabrinha, GER) in the third heat of the day with a higher technical difficulty score for her 313, raley to wrap, raley to blind and front to wrap against Mai’s raley to blind. Also climbing one notch up the competition ladder was Bruna Kajiya (Flexifoil, BRA) winning over Laura Fernandez (ESP) in the 4th heat also with a higher technical difficulty score. Kajiya stomped a blind judge, s-bend to blind, 313, raley to wrap and a back to blind air pass while Fernandez’s massive kiteloop-frontloop and raley weren’t enough to put her on top.
After the first round of the women’s heats, there was a 40 minute lunch break. Games director Olaf Van Tol also used this time to make decided to switch to the men’s division around 3:00 pm.
In the first men’s heat, Reno Romeu (North, BRA) had his first win of the day at the expense of Johnno Scholte (NED) via a higher technical difficulty score and power. A blind judge with aerial handle pass, back to blind air pass, 313, mobe 5, and a flat 360 were enough to win against Scholte’s blind judge, back to blind air pass, high handle pass front mobe and kiteloop. In the second set of the same heat, Sam Light (Naish, GBR) struggled in the strong winds and lost to Borsuk via technical difficulty and variation.
By now the wind conditions has risen to between 25 and 35 knots with gustiness of over 40 knots, a huge difference from the mornings lighter speeds. The strong wind conditions made it tough for the men to land their tricks, however with extra effort from the competitors who were on their smallest kites (5 – 7 meters), most riders were able to ride the conditions out and advanced to the next round.
The second heat saw Ariel Corniel (Ozone, DOM) earn an easy win over Jo Ciastula (Airush, ESP) while Tour veteran Cesar Portas (North, ESP) successfully landed a blind judge, slim, flat 360 and a kiteloop to cement a victory over fellow countryman Borja Rodriguez (Slingshot) in the 3rd heat. Rodriguez managed to land some big jumps and kiteloops and was overtaken with technical difficulties.
Young rider Andy Yates (Slingshot, AUS) took advantage of the strong winds and landed a 313, non-inverted slim, mobe 5, blind judge with aerial handle pass, kgb and a front mobe. Yates defeated Sergey Borisov (Best, RUS) who landed a regular and switch blind judge plus a raley, with a much higher technical difficulty score. The Aussie also relished in a convincing win over Tour veteran Portas in the 10th heat using an arsenal of solid, powered moves.
Youri Zoon (Slingshot, NED), a former Fuerteventura winner is back after two years off the Tour and was in his element with the strong winds. A blind judge with aerial handle pass, back to blind air pass, front mobe, a huge kiteloop, non-inverted slim and a flat 360 is all it took to defeat Daniel James (North, UK) in the 5th heat.
Russian rider Petr Tyuskevich (Flexifoil) dominated the first set of the 7th heat while Michael Shitzhofer (JN Kites, AUT) defeated Alberto Rondina (Cabrinha, ITA) in the second set. A blind judge with aerial handle pass, s-bend to blind, slim, front mobe, mobe and kiteloop for the Austrian rider were enough to win against the Italian’s flat 360, blind judge, slim and kiteloop.
The 8th Heat was run and then re-run due to the announcer instructing the rescue crew to retrieve a board for Evgeny Novozheev (North, RUS) who was still in the competition box. Effectively, the rescue boat interfered with the heat and had to be re-sailed. Nevertheless, Tom Court (North, GBR) convincingly won both runs unfazed.
Alex Pastor (Naish, ESP) had a late surge in the 9th Heat of the day and took the win against Corniel who was on a borrowed kite for the strong winds. The Spanish rider landed a nice blind judge with aerial handle pass, blind judge, regular and switch back to blind air pass, regular and switch non-inverted slim and a mobe.
Kevin Langeree (Naish, NED) - last year’s Tour runner-up - grabbed an easy win in the 10th heat against Morales, while Zoon zoomed-in pass Tom Hebert (Airush, New Caledonia) in 11th heat. Trick variation and powered moves were what the judges saw as the deciding factors in this heat.
Seb Garat (RRD, FRA) managed to win the heat against Paris despite struggling in the increasing wind speed and falling short on a few of his landings. Garet used a raley to blind, back to blind air pass, front mobe and blind judge to ensure victory.
In the last heat of the day, current champion Aaron Hadlow (Flexifoil, GBR) defeated Tom Court. Court worked hard but the reigning champion proved too good in strong winds. A blind judge with aerial handle pass, a huge kiteloop, blind judge, mobe, flat 360, and a shifty 360 were more than enough to beat Court’s blind judge with aerial handle pass and shifty 360.
The riders said farewell to the days relentless wind speeds as the day concluded at 5:00 pm. Tomorrow’s riders’ meeting is set at 11:30 am with first possible start at 12:00 pm.