Wind kicks in for a kicking end to the Freestyle singles
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Freestyle winners anointed at the end of single elimination contest on day three of KTA Philippines
Bulabog Beach – The leading freestyle riders on the Kiteboard Tour Asia (KTA) continued the dominance they had shown at the last stop in Indonesia by clinching top spots in the single elimination heats in strong winds and flat water.
Dutch rider Dylan van der Meij cruised to victory in the final heat over Mike Blomvall (SWE) with high-powered tricks and smooth landings in the shallow turquoise waters inside the reef off Boracay’s Bulabog Beach.
The Swede suffered the misfortune of a 9m kite that deflated in a hard crash, but was able to swap it out in for a 10m kite in less than a minute. But the moves thrown down by van der Meij, a day after his nineteenth birthday, were simply too strong for Blomvall’s strong challenge.
Even in the gusty conditions with winds hit 25kts, van der Meij stomped a spectacular array powered tricks that included a Low Mobe, Blind Judge 3, Kite Loop NIS and an “S” Mobe that had the audience huddled on the beach cheering in appreciation.
“I was on the edge of comfortable in the conditions,” said van der Meij. “I was fully depowered on my 10m kite. But it makes you do your tricks with more power, though the water also got choppier during the heats which made things even more challenging. I’m so happy with my first place because there are so many good guys here.”
The awe-inspiring excitement of day three came after several days of intense Formula kite and Twin Tip racing at the KTA Philippines Boracay Extreme, with Blue Orange Ville as the presenting sponsor and Aqua Boracay by Yoo the host.
Brazilian number two Estefania Rosa dos Santos, 26, maintained her grip on the top spot when she saw off a challenge from Kelly Schouten (NED) with a series of smooth tricks that included a Blind Judge, 313, and a Shifty 3, even though she suffered several hard crashes in the tough conditions.
“I so happy,” said dos Santos. “I won all my heats even in the gusty conditions and I was still able to do my ‘air passes’. In these conditions you really need to judge what you are going to do very carefully. So I was doing tricks that I was sure to land.”
By contrast Schouten, 25, who lost to dos Santos in the “super-final” of the KTA Indonesia event when the Brazilian landed a remarkable five handle passes in the air, knew she had to gamble to have any chance of winning.
“I thought ‘I have to go big, or I’m going home’ because I’ve seen what she can do,” said Schouten. “But in my efforts to go for it I had a couple of big crashes. It wasn’t my best heat. But overall I’m happy because the rest of the day was good, or good enough.”
With the single elimination rounds complete race officials got the Formula kite, Twin Tip, Weekend Warriors and Kids out on the water in the blustery conditions. While the wind dropped slightly racers were out on their 7m, 9m and 11m kites.
But the stronger winds upset the established order of the opening series of races. Ken Nacor (PHI) overhauled Narapichit “Yo” Pudla (THA) in both Formula kite races of the day, ending the 23-year-old’s unbeaten run.
“I like the strong wind, whereas I struggle when it’s light,” said Nacor. “I stay here in Boracay so I’m used to high winds and small kites when I’m training. ‘Yo’ is my friend, so it’s great to beat him. I know he’s a good hunter and waiting to pick you off, especially upwind where he’s so quick.”
Pudla suffered similarly mixed fortunes in the day’s four Twin Tip races, though he did manage to score a bullet before going down to Doque De los Santos (PHI) and Louie “Bong” Fernando (PHI).
The dominance of Kathrin Borgwardt (GER) in the Twin Tip class also suffered a hick-up when she scored one bullet but was overhauled by Cosima Sommer (GER) on the line at the end of the two laps of the track.
Astrid Berz (SUI) had no such problems. She scored bullets in both the women’s Formula kite races of the day to cement her position on top of the leader board, though Borgwardt also kept up the pressure with two second place finishes.