Slalom Surf at the PKRA Pingtan, China
The first day of slalom racing delivered some very exciting and surprising finishes. A total of six races were run with Bryan Lake winning three races, Ariel Corniel on a twin tip winning two and Julien Kerneur winning one. On the women’s side it was Paula Novotna who dominated the fleet winning five out of six races. The course was very simple with four reaches, what made things technical were the 2 to 3 meter waves coming through the course. All the races were very exciting and tomorrow should be no exception with more good wind forecasted.
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The course was set up with the starting line outside, coming into the beach break and going back out and finishing in front of the beach. This meant that the riders had to come through the beach break twice and once back out. The timing of when to go over waves and when to jump over them was critical and narrowed the gap between the twin tip boards and the slalom boards. This was shown in the results with Ariel Corniel winning two races on his freestyle twin tip. The conditions were also very rough on the outside with a 20 kn breeze and strong chop. It was challenging for the slalom boards to keep their fins in the water and to clear debris form the large swell of the previous day. All the girls opted for their twin tip boards and the full fleet made the races very competitive and fun to watch.
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This was the first time that races were run with so many variables (wind, waves, chop, debris) that lead changes were constantly happening and at no time could a clear winner be picked. The fastest racer on the water was still Bryan Lake but his speed was impeded many times by the waves and the debris. Ariel Corniel and Paula Novotna were the surprising riders of the day because they are top freestylers and upset some of the top racers in the world. However with another full day of racing ahead, anything can still happen, we will have to wait and see if Julien Kuerner or Oswald Smith will make a run at the top spot.
The racing will resume tomorrow at 11 AM with the TT race for the local Chinese racers and many more legs of slalom. These are some of the roughest conditions that any type of racing has ever been running in kitesurfing and it is extremely exciting to be part of it.