At the Kiteboard Tour Asia’s season opener in Indonesia, several of Europe’s leading freestyle kiteboarders put down markers, winning the opening heats in windy conditions.
KTA Indonesia day 1
Slovenia’s Jaka Komocar, 17, saw off stiff competition in the round robin format on day one of the KTA Bintan to take the first round victory with a series of powerful, flawlessly executed tricks that included a 313, low mobe, double 'S-bend' to blind.
In the day’s final heat Komocar squeaked past veteran Dave Shields (GBR) on a 2-1 split decision by the judges. The Briton had chosen a 12m kite after the wind dropped momentarily only to come back during the heat, appearing to leave him slightly overpowered.
'It’s an amazing feeling really,' said Komocar, delighted with his start. 'My first heat was bad, but I fought back. In the last heat of the day I, too, started with a 12m kite, but was overpowered and changed to a 9m mid-way.'
But even Shields, 34, who has been living in Brazil’s Fortaleza for the past eight years, was delighted with his second placing even though he had defeated Komocar in an earlier heat with his fully-committed riding.
'I’m so stoked; I’m on a high,' said Shields. 'I never thought I’d finish this high. I’d say you have to be a bit clever in these conditions. You have to read the wind when it’s up and down a little like this. Many kiters are from a wakeboarding background and don’t know the wind.'
Practice race - 2015 J22 North American Championship
Shields’ girlfriend, Brazilian number two, Estefania Rosa Santos, 26, also picked the runner-up spot on day one of the women’s freestyle contest, squeezed out in an equally close contest with Kelly Schouten (NED).
Schouten, 25, had bounced back after a disastrous earlier heat. She crashed her kite on the opening trick, failing to recover it after it was sucked into the breakers on Trikora Beach in the event, whose presenting sponsor is Bintan Regency supported by Bintan tourism department and Agro Beach Resort.
'I was so angry with myself,' said Schouten. 'For the first tricks I’d normally do those I’m really comfortable with. But I did something tough and my lines got tangled when my kite went down. So, I’m happy with the win. I wasn’t sure if I’d done enough. Enough tricks, but not my best.'
Both had on their route to the final managed to outpoint British number one, Rosana Jury, 21, trying to find her bearings in the choppy conditions, swell and winds of over 20kts. By contrast the medical student on a break from her studies has spent the past two months training 'butter-flat waters' around Perth, Western Australia.
She had eked out a win over Paula Rosales (PHI), who was runner-up to last season’s freestyle Asian champion. Rosales, a new-comer to riding in bindings, struggled in the gusty and strong conditions that saw her put up her 7m kite and take fourth spot.
2014 Finn Silver Cup
Equally, the spectacular riding of Reynard 'Along' Gajisan (PHI) was not enough to overhaul the smooth, high-powered style of 18-year-old Dylan van der Meij (NED), who stomped a host of NISs, KGBs, and double 'S' bends to blind to take third place.
As the wind picked up further on a falling tide, the racers took the water for two Formula kiteboard and one twin-tip contest on a track constrained by the reef.
Reigning KTA raceboard race champion Narapichit 'Yo' Pudla (THA) won both racebaord races and the sole twin-tip race in tight of contests after an unusual reaching start. Nils Stolzlechner (AUT) gave the Thai rider a run for his money taking a second and a third place in the raceboard class.
In the women’s raceboard division Kathrin Borgwardt (GER) also put in a strong showing taking two first places in a twin-tip and raceboard race, outstripping the Astrid Berz (SWI) in the process.
But the Swiss rider turned the tables Borgwardt in the second raceboard race, which halted competition for the day late in the afternoon when two pairs of riders tangled outside the reef, presenting a big challenge for rescue boats struggling with the heavy sea conditions.