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KTA South Korea: First Days in Daecheon

The KTA has arrived at our second stop of the season for the IKA Kitefoil Gold Cup and KTA TT:R Open. Our event site for the week, Daecheon Beach, Boryeong is situated on the West coast about a 3 hour bus ride south of Seoul.

South Korea is somewhat further flung than our regular stops, being a 5 or 6 hour flight away from most of the team bases in the South East. Upon arrival, it didn’t take long to realise how far north we had come. Boardshorts and t-shirts were quickly swapped for jeans and jumpers, and Neil even pulled out his winter flip flops.

Accessing Boryeong isn’t hard, thanks to the insanely efficient airport bus system. The buses run like clockwork, and are kitted out with big comfy armchairs, making the trip easy and enjoyable. The only downside is that there are only a few buses a day, and as we just missed one we ended up having to wait in the airport for 5 hours for the next.

When we eventually hit the road to Boryeong, it gave us the chance to have our first look at the Korean countryside. For many it was nothing like what we had expected. A far cry from the South East Asian countries we frequently visit, South Korea is so much more developed. Expensive cars drive slowly and orderly down the neat, wide and spotlessly clean roads. Everything is brilliantly green, with flat rice fields starkly opposed to the mountains sitting in the background. Unfortunately we missed the blooming of the cherry blossom trees by about a month, but it’s easy to imagine how amazing the baby pink would look in contrast.

Daecheon itself is a very small, modern seaside town. Made famous by it’s annual Mud Festival (really, it is what it sounds like…) the town has the feel of one that was designed specifically to host hordes of people during large events, and to be evacuated when the event is over. We arrived just after Golden Week, so it has been pretty quiet on the streets so far, but insider knowledge tells us the weekend will see all of the beachside hotels filled.

The harbour and fish market are a hub of authentic, local activity and are situated about a 5 minute drive from our site. The beach itself is huge, although harshly affected by the tides. Trade winds blowing upon our arrival brought a fairly cold chill, even with the sun shining it has been about 15 degrees (not accounting for wind), and getting down to 6 at night.

Since we gave ourselves a few days grace before the event kicked off, we’ve already had the chance to tour around the area and check out some of the local sites. Driving up into the mountains was an interesting and eye opening experience, the scenery could have been pulled from a postcard of the Alps in summer. On one of our mountain excursions we happened upon a launch site for the local paragliding club- turns out we aren’t the only wind sports in Daecheon.

Today marks what should be the first of 5 days of racing. It’s a double sided event, with high performance foil racing and grassroots twin tip racing, which will follow on from our last event in Thailand that premiered the new TT:R downwind slalom course design. 20 foilers and 22 twin tippers are on site anticipating the arrival of the wind.