Boracay rocks the finals!
Its part way through day 3 of the 7 Stones KTA Philippines and course racing is in full flow out on the bay, so time to reflect on the story so far.
The event here began with the unfortunate news that due to the political problems in Korea all funding for the intended KTA finals has been frozen. Luckily though Boracay being Boracay and with the great crew of people involved the event has more than stepped up a gear to take on the challenge of the KTA 10/11 Asia Tour Finals.
The first day opened up with beautiful wind and sunny skies. Dani Aliaga, local organizer from 7Stones Boracay Suites, mentioned “I am very excited for this competition. So far everything is falling into place as far as wind, water conditions, and registered riders. I am pretty excited for the following days”. Blowing 15-20 knots, head Judge Stephan Hertig made the decision to begin the competition with the first round of men and women’s freestyle.
The first heat was 12 year old Stefano Ganugi (Philippines) vs. Swedish rider Leonard Pihlblad. Fully powered, over-powered even, Stefano’s kite was a near miss with the palm trees after one crash. But recovering nicely he got back out with assistance from Philippine team mate Doque De Los Santos handing off to him another board. Despite his age and palm tree mishap, Stefano proved to be the better rider in this heat, sending him forward. The youngest rider on the KTA scene is still 10 year old Filipino Christian Tio who battled it out with French rider Valentin Marvyle. This match was closer than anyone expected. With Christian’s light weight he had plenty of power while Valentin did not. As Christian got out of the water he was totally focused on listening for the results and was to nervous to speak to anyone. Unfortunately for the up-and-coming junior league, it was the experienced Valentin who took this heat.
The tide was rising fast and the decision to switch to course racing was made, two courses were run. The flooding tide and windy conditions made it a challenge for the judges to set the buoy’s for the course. The boat for the starting/finishing line, just would not stay in place. After placing multiple sand bags on the anchor, the team was ready to go, the riders happy to begin. However, according to Hertig, “Due to technical difficulties we decided to abandon the 1st race as we did not feel there would be correct results”.
The second race was very exciting. Ken Nacor, local hero and mentor, passed many of the race boards on his twin tip. Bruno continued to take the lead for the race boards and Yo-Narapichit Pudla (Thailand) quickly overtook Deivis and Doque for 2nd. Then Deivis fell out a bit and the fight for third was on between Doque and Taner Aykurt (Turkey), Taner taking 3rd in the end. For the women is was Borgwardt again having no problem securing first, a new face Astrid Berz (Switzerland) for second and Dina Muldasheva (Russia) for third. Watching the TT class was exciting as the battle for first between Nacor and William Bourget (France) played out. In the end Bourget had the better angle and crossed the finishing line. While Nacor tacked back the crowd watched with eagerness as his teammate Toto was coming in and about to steal 2nd from him, but he had to tack as well, then they both had to tack yet again opening the space for Dennis Wong from Hong Kong to skirt in and take 2nd place, his sailboat racing experience definitely paying off as he made it in his final tack. Then it was Ralph Schnepper (Netherlands) who came third. For the women it was Aya Oshima (Japan) as first, followed by Rebecka Maudal (Norway), and Candace Shadley (Canada) as third.
Kristin Boese was present coaching her attendees in the KB4girls PRO clinic, first ever in Asia! Before the start she commented, “I’m very nervous, I’m very excited. When the competition starts I will probably be more nervous than the girls. It’s really awesome there are so many, 24 out of 68, 1/3 of the competitors are girls!” Susan Grossman (USA), remarked about her first ever freestyle heat, “It was actually really fun even though I was underpowered. If KB (Kristin Boese) hadn’t been here, I would never have competed. I feel nervous now, but happy to give it a shot with KB being very inspiring and providing tips for my first competition”. Many girls echoed this response, proving the need for more structured teams with supportive coaches to help this sport continue to grow.
Also back for his second KTA event was Cabrinnha rider Bruno Sroka and again he kindly offer to run a Race Clinic to help the racers in Asia develop their skills further. So for twao days 12 lucky local riders were able to max out on race tips and pointers from one of the sports top guys.
The second day started with winds blowing 25-30 knots, overcast skies and buzz in the air. The excitement and nerves continued to grow through a day with massive shows of freestyle and race conditions that definitely pushed the riders’ limits.
First heat of the day was not to be missed after the two cancellations of it the previous day. North rider Anton Hilding Lilljegren (Swedish) versus K!NN Pro rider Long Nguyen Duc (Vietnam), who took 3rd in the last round in Thailand, was looked forward to by many. Anton came out strong, but lost his kite early on while Long then put on a show landing with technical preciseness that was visual pleasure. Long continued to climb, but met his match in the semi-finals against Thailand rider, and reigning Asian Men’s Freestyle Champion, Yo-Narapichit Pudla. Yo battled out the finals with Nobile rider Mike Blomvall (Sweden), Mike taking 1st for the single elimination round, Yo seated 2nd. Long was matched with local boy and hero, Cabrinha rider Ken Nacor, who displayed his skill on his home water well, beating Long and taking 3rd. The upset of the day was local rider, 13 year old Stefano Ganugi beating Turkish Champion Taner Aykurt. “It was a difficult heat to judge. We were judging on overall impression, Stefano did 2 really stylish kite loops which were really powered and had fast, clean landings while also displaying a variety of tricks, keeping them coming constantly. Taner was over-powered and doing railey’s that were meant to be other tricks. But Taner’s technical skill and difficulty level will mean he can easily climb his way up through the double elimination round, that’s why we have it”, reported Judge Moritz Homola. For the females it was a great show of talent as well. Liquid Force rider Christina Alstad (Norway) was set to battle Aya Oshima (Japan), who is currently leading the woman’s freestyle for the tour year, in the semi-finals. Unfortunate for her, and disappointing to the spectators, Alstad lost her kite. Oshima went on in a familiar duel with F-1 rider Kathrin Borgwardt (Germany). Oshima’s style and skill won her the 1st place for single elimination round, Borgwardt 2nd, and Alstad 3rd.
The race was on in the afternoon. However the sea conditions kept the judges busy setting and resetting the course. Once everything was stable 4 races were run. The 3rd race was an amazing photo finish with almost an upset. Yo Pudla against Cabrinha rider Bruno Sroka (France) were speeding towards the finish with Yo in lead. Bruno got closer and closer and the crowd was on their feet. In the last few seconds Bruno came barrelling in to beat Yo by a mere 20 cm.
So great start out on the water and the final two days of competition promise to be just as explosive, still in true KTA style the social scene has equally given all those involved a full tour final experience, beginning with a stylish sunset opening cocktail party from the roof viewing deck of the 7 Stones to gently ease everyone into the week. The second night saw us all gathered at the Summer Place catwalk for a full on fire and fashion show, staring Billabong, North and Ion clothing. What a top night that turned into with many familiar faces up on the stage with riders showing they also have strutting talents too.
So stay tuned and check out the final report and the full results as we head full on towards the final day of the KTA 10/11