Day 5 - PKRA 2008 FRANCE â€“ Mondial Du Vent
The fifth day of the PKRA 2008 World Tour in France â€“ Mondial du Vent 2008 was a non-event. Morning started out warm and sunny with the wind blowing onshore but was not up to PKRA standards. The mandatory skipper meeting was held at 9:30 am as scheduled but the competition immediately went into a wind delay.
The plan for today was to run two races in the afternoon but the wind was up and down the entire day prompting some racers to rig up in anticipation for a start which never materialized. Around 3:00 oâ€™clock in the afternoon, a high level of clouds moved in but the wind continued to drop rather than build. The competition was called off for the day at 4:30 pm as the wind was below the minimal level for course racing.
Day 6 - PKRA 2008 FRANCE â€“ Mondial Du Vent
Leucate, France, April 17, 2008 â€“ Another two races were held during the 6th day of the PKRA 2008 World Tour here in France side by side with the Mondial du Vent 2008, the most prestigious kiteboarding event in Europe. The competition started at 12:00 pm and wrapped up at 2:30 pm. The nuking wind was in full force, providing an extreme setting for the racers. Some of the riders were totally overpowered by the 25 - 30 knots wind with gusts of up to 35 knots which made the event more exciting and challenging. Most of the competitors were on their 7 meters but there were several riders who went on their 9s including Sami Gali (Best, Spain) which made it difficult for the riders to keep up and control the kites in the triangular course. Mark Foraster (Airrush, Spain) got his kite tangled with Charles Deleau (North, France) and Jose Alarcon (Takoon, Spain) during the first race which lead to his disqualification while the other two riders got a redress.
The wind was really gusty and unpredictable and as current race leader Sean Farley (North, Mexico) puts it, â€œIt was pretty crazy. Ever since I saw it on the weather forecast, I was hoping we werenâ€™t going to have to race plus with the rain in such cold place then it picked up really good so we went for it. Then it picked up even more but we kept on going for it.â€ Farley went out using a 7 meter kite but only manages to finish in 3rd and 5th place in todayâ€™s two races respectively.
â€œI was first on the weather mark on both races, but it was just so challenging for me with those strong wind conditions going downwind. There were obviously very good wind shifts but you just couldnâ€™t read them. I just kept going for whatever there was,â€ added Farley.
PKRA head Mauricio Toscano even noted, â€œThis is the most extreme conditions we had so far for course racing.â€
Whatâ€™s more notable is that two local French riders dominated all of todayâ€™s races. Julien Kerneur (currently in 4th place overall) was the first person to cross the finish in both races followed by Alex Caizergues (F-One) who finished both games in second place. Caizergues is currently ranked number 13th overall.
â€œThe other competitors who hasnâ€™t been on the top won today. It was good because it goes to show that other racers are better than others in different conditions. The conditions were extremely hard for the riders but it proves that youâ€™ve got to be very tough and this shows that the more trained you are, the better youâ€™ll perform,â€ added Toscano.
Dirk Hanel of Germany and racing for the North team also had a very rough time in the waters, finishing 5th in the first and 4th in the second race. â€œIt was really gnarly out there today, stormy and not predictable. The waves kept getting bigger and bigger. Since we had to move our starting line, it was a bit hard to get really prepared with the equipment. I had no luck in the first race and was totally overpowered because I didnâ€™t have a small kite and was force to use a 9 meter when most of the guys were on 7s and I was just getting blown out.â€ Hanel, kiting since 1999 even lost his board on the first race for a short period of time.
â€œUntil the upwind mark I was actually doing quite good. I think I was in second or third, then I was overpowered and I fell and couldnâ€™t get my board back. I had to tack back and forth until I got it back but by that time, even the women had passed me. I caught some more guys up and it was okay but the kite was definitely too big,â€ added Hanel. After the first race, he went back with a 7-meter so the second race went much smoother and better for him, finishing in 4th position.
Steph Bridge (North, UK) who has been dominating the whole kiteboard racing scene in the womenâ€™s division also had a rough but very challenging and rewarding day. Bridge used a 7-meter kite in all of todayâ€™s races and performed really fantastic, even going head to head with the men in the first race. â€œOne more day to go and Iâ€™m in the lead so Iâ€™m very happy about that. Iâ€™m looking forward to a couple of good results tomorrow,â€ explained Bridge who was still stoked after the games. Her brother whoâ€™s a board shaper actually helps Bridge in fine tuning every board she uses in her races. She will be participating in two kiteboard racing events in England after the PKRA World Tour here in France and she feels very excited about it. â€œI am very happy to be going back to England to do two more racing events. There are a lot of people already there practicing for 3 months now, a lot of them come from racing backgrounds and it should be good. We are even organizing one of these racing in my hometown,â€ added Bridge.
If a few found the conditions rewarding, some racers found it a bit frustrating including Farley who had this comment after the games, â€œItâ€™s a shame that Freestyle was finished so soon, then everything was just left up to us course racers to keep the energy high. Itâ€™s been quite demanding on us just to be here early and pretty much know that weâ€™re going to be out all day â€“ weather permitting. Itâ€™s a little frustrating and a little too much for me but I think 16 races is more than enough to show whoâ€™s the winner in such conditions. I was doing quite good at the beginning of the leg here in France but itâ€™s just more of a â€˜hold on to your spotâ€™ and try to keep on going than just really enjoying it, especially today which as it rained and everything is wet and sandy.â€ Farley will be going to Corpus Christi, Texas to compete at the 2008 Citgo US Wind and Water Open competition.
Hanel, who had his best performance so far during the 8th race finishing third also commented, â€œThe whole event has been really great so far and we had so many races that its almost unbelievable. The wind has been really challenging but I wish we would have some light-winds day. On the other hand, it was really great to test the new gear here in France because now we really know what we have at this moment.â€ Hanel will be heading home after the PKRA Tour stop in France and will be flying to Tunisia afterwards to do some board testing for the twin-tip board for North Kiteboarding.
Weather permitting, tomorrow the game plan would be to finish another 3 races which would translate to a total of 16 races overall â€“ the most number of races permitted under PKRA race rules. The wind is forecasted to change offshore so it will be another challenge for the racers and at the same time an advantage to some of them as well.
Men (After 13 Races Overall â€“ Todayâ€™s Race Results)
1. Sean Farley (North, Mexico), 15.2 pts. - (3, 5)
2. Charles Deleau (North, France), 16.28 pts. â€“ (RDR, 3)
3. Sami Gali (Best, Spain), 28.67 pts. â€“ (4, 6)
Women: (After 13 Races Overall â€“ Todayâ€™s Race Results)
1. Steph Bridge (North, UK), 9.6 pts. â€“ (0.7, 2)
2. Gina Esteva (Best, Spain), 19.4 pts. â€“ (DNF, 3)
3. Fabienne Dâ€™ortoli (Cabrinha, France), 24.1 pts. â€“ (2, 0.7)