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KTA Thailand: Friday

With the KTA Freestyle X completed as of Thursday evening, everyone’s attention turned totally towards racing yesterday. Once again riders navigated their way around the downwind slalom course, making their way up and over the Boarder X jumps much like the days before, however now with the added pressure of elimination heats.


More than just once we saw a number of riders have the jump marks get the better of them, often costing them the heat. We saw one such epic between usual front runners Yo Narapichit Pudla and Atte Kappel, who had been putting the pressure on and clipping at Yo’s heels in a number of races already. Atte was out in front, pelting from the start line, this time with Yo in second place but trailing only a short distance behind. Yo, determined not to let his first place position slip, even at the cost of just one heat was closing the gap quickly.  The two seemed neck and neck, encouraged by all of the beachside crew wildly cheering on their favourite rider. As the two riders approached the 3rd downwind mark it looked as though Yo would take Atte out, as he down looped around the mark first giving him priority and just those extra few feet he needed to overtake him. Yo, shooting out in front for the first time that heat was spurred on by roars and shouts of delight from the spectators- and just when we thought fate was sealed for this heat- a crash! Yo, big air extraordinaire taken out at one of the comparably small Boarder X jumps! Atte took his chance, and sped off towards the finish line, leaving Yo skirting behind in his wake.

At the end of the day, despite his earlier difficulties it was Yo who once again stole the number one spot at the top of the leader board for the men’s division. In the women’s heats, although a smaller fleet, the level of competitive riding was not at all diminished. A constant battle rages on between top riders Kathrin Borgwardt (Germany), Aya Oshima (Japan), Jingle Chen (China) and Young Eun Lee (S. Korea). The 4 girls, constantly vying for position against each other are often trading spots up on the podium. However this event has seen Jingle Chen stepping her already very strong game up another notch, allowing her to comfortably retain her number one position, much like Christian Tio often does in the youth fleet. However on this particular day he was pipped at the post by local rider Sarun Rupchom who hungrily grabbed at the chance to be number one.

Indeed this level of excitement and engagement of the spectators proves Boarder X to be a wise decision from the IOC, as one of their main concerns was and still is how to make kiteboarding a ‘spectator friendly’ sport should it become fully Olympic. For sure bringing the action closer to the beach and structuring a race that tends to keep the fleet together and racing in the same direction is far easier and more exciting to follow.


With the last day of the event upon us, levels of competition have reached an all time high for the week as top riders fix their eyes on the ever sought after podium positions and uncertainty lingers as to who will take home the title.