The 19km Lighthouse to Leighton race was held today, Saturday 14th December 2013. A new record for kitesurfing from Rottnest Island to Leighton Beach Fremantle was set when German expat Marvin Baumeister made the crossing in just 23 minutes and 50 seconds.
Baumeister said he was caught in the pack of 88 racers for the first 2km but after clearing a few patches of weed he saw a gap and put the hammer down and hung on. He finished at least 500m ahead of the pack in his second Lighthouse to Leighton race and said the conditions were perfect for him today.
'I had a good start. I chose a slalom board which gave me a bit more speed, it was a great race and it feels so good to win it this year.'
The day wasn’t without drama for Baumeister and he nearly didn’t get to race, forgetting his harness. After a few frantic phone calls, a film crew was able to bring it out to the island.
The previous record in Australia’s longest kitesurf race was 24 minutes 30 seconds, set in 2010 by World Speed Record Holder Frenchman Alex Caizergues who also competed today. Caizergues’ fiancee Marie Desandre Navarre was the fastest woman to finish in 30 minutes and 35 seconds.
Second fastest was Course Race World Champion Florian Gruber from Germany who is in Perth for the Kiteracing Oceanic Championships.
Gruber was pleased with his race and plans to return to try for first next year with more preparation.
'I’m super happy with the result. Next year I will do it again and bring the right equipment. I borrowed fins from another competitor this year because I didn't want to miss out.'
Third place winner was Torvar Mirsky from Fremantle who also won the Marc Sprod Memorial Trophy, named after a well-known local kitesurfer who passed away earlier this year. This is a new award for the fastest West Australian entrant. He said he raced well beyond his expectations.
'My back leg is burning like hell, but it was awesome. I didn't think I'd be standing on the podium or have any chance of being near that record.'
On winning the Marc Sprod Memorial Trophy, Mirsky said he was over the moon.
'The Marc Sprod trophy is something that's really meaningful to us locals, Mark would have been competing today, he would have been competing in these [Kiteracing Oceanic] Championships that I helped organise, and I think that everyone's going to be pretty happy to see someone he knew win it, and I'm really happy to be that person,' he said.
81 male and seven female kitesurfers sped across the Indian Ocean from Rottnest Island, in winds of 14 to 20kn, clear blue skies and 38-degree heat and arrived in front of a crowd of more than 2500.
The Lighthouse to Leighton is a feature race of the new Kiteracing Oceanic Championships event. This has bolstered the field of competitors, which included world champions and record holders including Gruber, world number 1 female course kite racer Steph Bridge (UK), her son Olly Bridge who is this year’s European Mens Kite Race Champion (2013), World Number 2-ranked course racer Riccardo Leccese (Italy), and World number 5-ranked course racer Alejandro Hernandez (Spain).
Competitors were vying for more than $4000 in prize money.
The Lighthouse to Leighton is supported by Western Australian Kite Surfing Association (WAKSA) and made possible through assistance from Fremantle Ports, Rottnest Express, Kite Addiction, Cabrinha Kites and Yellos Jersey Strategies. The Lighthouse to Leighton is proudly supported by the State Government through Eventscorp.
by Janine Pittaway
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2:54 PM Sat 14 Dec 2013GMT
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