Final Day from the KTA Christmas Race Special
Kiteboard racers crowned in twin tip and raceboard classes after tough competition in KTA 2013-14 season opener
Friendship Beach, Phuket – Thailand’s Narapichit “Yo” Pudla and Germany’s Kathrin Borgwardt opened their bids to retain their Kite Tour Asia (KTA) course racing titles with dominant displays as the season kicked off in Phuket’s Chalong Bay.
Over three days of intense racing Pudla, 23, and Borgwardt, 37, scored bullets in all the formula raceboard heats they contested in the men’s and women’s divisions, giving them perfect scores in the KTA Christmas Race Special.
But one of the biggest surprises of the event was the victory of Lisa Nikitina (UKR) in the twin tip class, which was run in separate alternate races from the raceboard class, allowing indefatigable riders to contest both divisions.
Nikitina, 23, a relative novice to racing, scored four bullets in the event’s concluding third day, outpointing the experienced Borgwardt. Perhaps more remarkable was her feat crossing the line first in one race, beating all the men racing in the same fleet as the wind dropped and her weight advantage told.
The Phuket event – organized by the KTA, presented by main sponsor Tamarind Villas and hosted by Kitezone – was the first twin tip race competition since it achieved class recognition by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), giving competitors the opportunity to score International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) world ranking points.
“I’m very happy, and a bit surprised,” said Nikitina. “In one race I even got a first place and beat all the guys, including ‘Yo’. I feel I’ve learned so much about racing and tactics in the past few days: where it’s best to be on the course and how much to point upwind or go off the wind, depending on the conditions.”
Equally Doque Delos Santos (PHI), the reigning KTA twin tip champion, has every reason to be pleased with his performances which helped him walk off with a win for the first round of the season.
In the final day’s four races he scored two bullets, a second and a third to help him overhaul his closest rival in the class, Pudla. Atte Keppel (SWE) also had a good day on his twin tip, scoring two bullets by using his foil kite to its full potential in the conditions that lightened as the day progressed.
Pudla’s exertions in the five raceboard division clearly told on his performances in the twin tip class, where he had turned in strong showings on the first two days. But on day three he failed to win any of the races and was slightly off the pace.
But none of the men could touch him in the raceboard class. The wind that started out at around 16kts and dropped progressively to just over 10kts, also played to his advantage because of his slight stature.
Pudla’s blistering pace on the downwind legs of the windward-leeward track, using firstly his 13m kite and later the 17m, was too much for Adrian Geislinger (AUT) who in some races appeared quicker in the upwind tacking duels.
“The wind today was very changeable, but still OK for racing,” said Pudla. “You have to look out over the course to see where the gusts are coming. That’s the game. When I feel a gust I’ll try to point higher going upwind and when it drops I bear off a little and go for speed.”
Fellow Thai and training partner Chanon “Jack” Phrakew, 32, was slightly disappointed with his third place overall finish, blaming himself for poor decision making on the course that several times cost him a places to Geislinger, who came runner-up in the event.
“I made a lot of mistakes,” said Phrakew. “The wind was better outside on the starboard side of the track, so I should have gone there. Geislinger went out there and kept his speed better than me. But at least I feel I’m getting closer to ‘Yo’, especially when the wind’s stronger.”
Borgwardt has also been forced to re-evaluate her strategy, at least for the twin tip class. She believes a larger board should help for the upcoming KTA round two in Bintan, Indonesia, in January. But her dominance of the raceboard class remains a source of satisfaction.
“I won every race in the raceboard class,” she said. “It’s been a great competition. We had five races on each of the final two days. It’s great when you get a lot of races. So, I’m happy.”