DAY 1 – August 5, 2011 – Slalom & Freestyle Jam. PHOTO GALLERY: https://picasaweb.google.com/kyleTouhey/SOAR2011SlalomFreestyle02
The Canadian Course Racing Nationals and Freestyle Jam started Friday in Squamish, BC Canada.
Competitors were greeted with clear skies, which in Squamish terms means the predictable thermals will kick in and the will be wind! With the main event – course racing, not scheduled to start until Saturday, today was all about good times and a fun event for the locals and out of town riders alike.
The first call of the day was for Slalom racing, which got started around 1:30pm. By this time, the winds had built up nicely and everything from 9m to 7m kites were being pumped at launched from the rocky site, known to the locals as “The Spit”. A series of 4 marks were setup between the start & finish lines for a course that required 5 high speed downwind reaching legs, as well as 4 tight mark roundings all placed close enough to shore that spectators got a good view of all the thrills and spills.
Heats were set with 3 or 4 riders in a round-robin elimination style, which made for some close racing. A total of 10 heats were run for the Men, along with 4 heats for the Women. Equipment varied from twintips, to surfboards, and even a few specially designed slalom course boards, but with the short reaching legs, it seemed like it was anyone’s game, with a little extra emphasis put on jockeying for position at the marks and making clean gybes. The winds were howling and riders were all pushing their limits, making for plenty of spectacular high speed crashes and lots of opportunities for passing.
In the end it boiled down to Alex Aguera from Hawaii, versus the three Squamish locals: Layne Mullard, Kevin Bonogofski and JM Tremblay in the men’s final. Two slalom-style boards and two big twintips were about to duke it out. Alex had been going strong the whole event on his self-made custom Slalom board and looked to be favored for the win. When the start gun went off, all the competitors jammed to the first mark in a very tight pack, but it was Alex who had the edge, and made a clean gybe to stay out in to the lead. But at the second mark he went a little wide, and Layne Mullard managed to get his big twintip to the inside of him to pull out in front and round the 3rd mark just ahead. Alex came in just behind him and rounded the mark but botched a gybe, allowing Layne to extend his lead enough to pull ahead and boost a huge celebratory air as he coasted in 1st place across the line. Final Men’s Slalom Results:
1st Layne Mullard $250
2nd Alex Aguera $100
3rd Kevin Bonogofski $50
For the women, the racing was equally as close, with riders constantly swapping positions through the whole series. Coming in to the final of Kalia Aguera, Jessica Sickinger and Rainbow Monds, all on twintips, it appeared to be an event match with no clear favorite, making for an exciting race. Off the gun Rainbow got a little hung up and dropped behind so it was Kalia and Jessica who pulled in to the lead. They were having a very close race until the final mark when Jessica went in to try to get a poll position but got overpowered in to a crash. Kalia with right close and managed to keep a clear lead long enough to cruise over the line ahead of the other two. Final Women’s Slalom Results:
1st Kalia Aguera $100
2nd Jessica Sickinger $75
3rd Rainbow Monds $50
File comment: Alex Aguera rounds the first mark ahead of Layne Mullard and JM Tremblay in the Men's final Slalom.
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By the time the Slalom racing had wrapped up, it was after 5pm and the “after work” spectator crowd was starting to show up. The San Francisco course racers had also just arrived after a long journey following their St.FYC Thursday night series racing. It was time to put on a show, so the announcers called time for all of the Freestyle Jam competitors to get on the water.
The tide was starting to rise near to its maximum for the day, and the nature of the spot at the Spit makes for a sort of natural amphitheater, right in front of the Pacific Brewing beer garden was setup. There is a flat water section and side offshore winds, which means that freestylers can come in and throw down tricks literally only meters from the spectators cheering on shore. But at the same time, the winds had increased and a few clouds had flown in overhead, making for strong and gusty winds – a difficult challenge for the locals who are used to performing in smooth steady 20knot breeze.
The freestyle for both Men and Women was a 40minute Jam session style judged informally on overall showmanship and skill, and the course racers took to the microphone to entertain the crowd and cheer on the riders. While riders fought for space to do their maneuvers close to shore, they were forced to dodge other downed riders and kites. It made for an exciting spectacle.
In the end, local rider JM Tremblay took $200 and the win for the Men showing style, creativity and showmanship with both hooked in kiteloop moves and unhooked tricks. While Hawaii’s Alexis Aguera took $200 and the win for the Women with her consistency, big airs and smooth spins.
The day ended with all of the riders partying at the spit to the sound system and large bonfire on the beach until late in to the night. Everyone was enjoying themselves and the course racers managed to make a good showing, but all had it on their minds that there were two long days of epic racing to follow. PHOTO GALLERY: https://picasaweb.google.com/kyleTouhey/SOAR2011SlalomFreestyle02Check back for Day 2 & 3 Reports for the Course Racing 2011 Canadian Nationals.
Thanks to all the sponsors for making this event happen: Pacific Brewing, Squamish Windsports Society, Squamish Yacht Club, Naish, Airtime Boardsports, Northshore Ski & Board, Westcoast Kollective, Ozone, Ocean Rodeo, Dakine, O’Neill, Prolimit, Airush, North, and Ristafins.
File comment: Colin Ernst comes down to land a kiteloop.
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File comment: Layne Mullard in close for the spectators.
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File comment: freestyle Jam winner JM Tremblay.
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