World Sailing, the world governing body for the sport of sailing including windsurfing and kiteboarding, has published a list of qualified countries including two universality places for Youth Men Windsurfing. These two places were granted to Oman and Myanmar.
No other universality places have been claimed in compliance with the IOC qualification scheme which required applications to be made before March 31st, 2017, neither for Windsurfing nor for Kiteboarding.
The qualification system describes that unused universality places default to the World qualification events, and that the next country not yet qualified is awarded the place.
The victors of both the boys and girls titles at the TwinTip:Racing (TT:R) Slalom Youth World Champions sealed their wins with dominant performances that mirrored their progress through the enthralling event on China’s tropical Hainan Island.
The Dominican Republic’s Adeuri Corniel was almost untouchable in the high-octane races, capturing the title with room to spare. He was so far ahead in the rankings, he was able to discard first places from earlier elimination round deciders.
Young kiteboard racers from the Dominican Republic charged to the top of the leaderboard after a long day of close-fought racing at the TwinTip: Racing (TT:R) World Championships being staged on the tropical Chinese island of Hainan.
Freestyle star Adeuri Corniel (DOM) grabbed the top spot with a dominant performance on the penultimate day of the competition, seizing three wins from three in the crucial elimination round deciders.
Costly mistakes by many of the favourites to take the titles at the 2018 TwinTip:Racing (TT:R) Slalom Youth World Championships in Hainan, China, threw up a few surprises at the top of standings after the first day of racing.
After two frustrating, windless opening days, many of the young athletes seemed over-anxious and committed the cardinal error of crossing the start-lines early and were eliminated from heats or the all-important elimination round decider.
As a result some, like reigning International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R Youth World Champion Sofia Tomasoni (ITA) and boys’ title holder Cameron Maramenides (USA), found themselves down the leaderboard.
The pressure was magnified by a field stacked with the strongest TT:R talent as athletes from around the globe have gathered to fight for the eight remaining places for kiteboarding’s first medals at the Youth Olympics Games (YOG) in Argentina in October.
The appeal of the relatively new kiteboarding discipline of TwinTip:Racing (TT:R) Slalom for young athletes is underscored by the number of competitors who have travelled from all over the globe to battle for the Youth World titles in China.
The International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R Slalom World Championships—which also doubles as the final qualification event for the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Argentina—sees 23 nations fighting for four spots in the boys’ division and 14 nations going after another four in the girls’ group on the tropical island of Hainan.
For the 62 athletes all born between 2000 and 2003 the chance to land the remaining spots to compete for kiteboarding’s inaugural medals in Buenos Aires in October was an irresistible opportunity.
The lure of winning kiteboarding’s inaugural medals at the forthcoming Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Argentina has pushed many countries to field large national teams at the TwinTip:Racing (TT:R) Slalom World Championships in China.
For the first time in kiteboarding, big national squads backed by their national sailing and kiting federations have made the trip to Hainan Island’s Bo’ao in the hope their young racers can land some of the remaining eight slots for the games in Buenos Aires in October.
While racing on the water is an individual effort, the racers, all born between 2000 and 2003, have been revelling in their national team identities. Even smaller nations with fewer resources have provided backing, including team clothing, to foster national pride.
On the first of five scheduled days of racing at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R Youth Worlds on Asia Bay, which will also serve as a YOG qualifier, the wind failed to climb above the required 10kts necessary for fair TT:R Slalom competition. But the forecast for the days ahead look good.
The lay day under the tropical sunshine saw the 38 boys and 24 girls from 26 countries and six continents chill under the palm trees in their team groups as they waited in vain for the breeze to build, kites pumped and ready for action.
The biggest team of five boys and five girls, including reigning TT:R Youth World Champion Sofia Tomasoni, is that of Italy. It has been shepherded for more than a year by Simone Vannucci, his position funded by the Italian Sailing Federation (FIV), which also helps the competitors with equipment.
But the possibility of burnishing national reputations has also encouraged smaller, poorer nations like the Dominican Republic to find some resources for a coach, training, equipment and funds to travel.
With two boys and two girls in China, the squad has been training under top foil racer, Florian Trittel, a former 29er class World Champion. He travelled to Cabarete from his native Spain to conduct week-long training camps every month for almost a year.
Trittel’s programme and the travel of the young athletes has been financed by the Dominican Republic Sailing Federation and national Olympic Committee through the Cabarete Kite Academy, which saw the potential kiting for personal development.
“For these four guys it is very much a matter of national pride to represent their country,” said Trittel. “But the people of the Dominican Republic are not wealthy, so these kids know the only way they can compete for their country is if they get support.”
Lola Ulrich, a member of the six-strong French squad which also boasts a coach, training programme and physiotherapist funded by the French Sailing Federation (FFV), is immensely grateful for opportunities offered by being part of the team.
“To be part of the team is great,” she said. “For me it’s definitely a super experience. I learned so much to get to a high level. There’s the technical advantages as we have more eyes and more brains to see things. In France we’re very, very proud of being French. I didn’t expect that, and I didn’t expect that journey. It changed me in some ways.”
The host nation’s four-strong Chinese team is also well-resourced by the China Yachting Association (CYA) which has seen the potential of kiting to grow in the country, while also being drawn by the hope of success on the Olympic stage.
Zhai Dahui, coach and team manager, has been training the squad for several years, but focused on TT:R when the youth games became a possibility.
“The main reason for the backing is that we have the opportunity to go into the Olympics,” said Dahui. “The Olympics is very important.”
Full results, all elimination series results, and live scoring will be available atwww.twintipracing.com
YOG qualification events
North and South America: Cabarette, DOM, 15-20 January 2018
Europe and Africa: Dakhla, MAR, 20-25 February 2018
Asia and Oceania: Pranburi, THA, 13-18 March 2018
2018 TT:R Youth Slalom World Championships: Boao, CHN, 03-08 May 2018
Most of the globe’s quickest young kiteboarders have gathered on China’s tropical Hainan island for an intriguing showdown to fight for the final spots to compete at the upcoming Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Argentina.
The coveted TwinTip: Racing (TT:R) Slalom Youth World Championship titles to be fought out over the next five days of intense action will also serve as the stage for the YOG qualifiers, with four slots each available for boys and girls all under 19.
Twelve of the total of 24 places at the youth games in Buenos Aires in October have already been allocated at three International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) qualifiers in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, Dakhla, Morocco, and Pranburi, Thailand.
But with so many strong boys and girls still looking for a YOG berth to contest the inaugural kiteboarding medals after just missing out in their continental regional qualifiers, the world’s fastest have made the journey to Bo’ao’s Asia Bay to bid for spots.
Thirty-eight boys and 24 girls from 32 countries and all six continents will battle in the TT:R format of spectacular downwind slalom races specially-developed for the YOG to best showcase the sheer exhilaration of kiting.
Scores of six or eight-person heats run over five downwind legs that last barely three scintillating minutes sort the quickest sailors. When the wind permits, metre-high obstacles to be jumped are laid on the third and fourth legs, adding to the drama and lending a boardercross feel.
Yet the beauty of the format is its accessibility. The competitors, all born between 2000 and 2003, must use registered production inflatable “tube” kites and registered twin-tip boards similar to the equipment used by most kiteboarders.
In the girls’ division China’s Jingle Chen, the reigning IKA TT:R Open World Champion will be up against the TT:R Youth World Champion, Italy’s Sofia Tomasoni. Both have already secured YOG slots but are looking to land the prized world title while honing their skills in the still-embryonic discipline.
Both will be pushed all the way by the current European TT:R Youth Champion, Spain’s Nina Font Castells and Germany’s Alina Kornelli But others in the strong Italian, French and Spanish teams will certainly be in the hunt for the Olympics places too.
Similarly, the boys’ TT:R fleet is the strongest assembled this year. Antigua and Barbuda’s Tiger Tyson and Mani Bisschops of Australia have already qualified, but are eager to measure their pace against the world’s fastest while hoping to bag the world title in the process.
France’s Benoit Gomez and Croatia’s Martin Dolenc, the European TT:R Open Champion, both missed out on Olympics places in Dakhla and will be hoping to put matters right in Asia Bay over the coming days.
But, as with the girls, the contests will be fierce. Freestyle star Adeuri Corniel (DOM) and the Cameron Maramenides (USA) were pipped in the North American qualifiers, while Thailand’s Sarun “Nai” Rupchom also came within a whisker of taking a YOG place at the Asia qualifiers.
The scene was set for the what is bound to be thrilling action on the water in the days ahead with a glittering opening ceremony overlooking the race track at Bo’ao’s Asia Bay Resort.
Full results, all elimination series results, and live scoring will be available atwww.twintipracing.com
The Philippines’ Christian Tio secured an inaugural kiteboard racing spot for his country at the upcoming Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in the tightest Asia boys’ qualifying group fought out on the Gulf of Thailand’s peerless waters.
But in the end after five frenetic days of thrilling competition in the TwinTip:Racing (TT:R) Slalom discipline where the lead continually changed hands, 17-year-old Tio stretched his lead to win comfortably with assured and consistent performances over the final two days.
“It’s been a tough week,” said Tio. “It’s been a goal to get to the Olympics and we’ve been waiting for kiting to get in to the Games for some time, so it feels pretty good to qualify and have the honour of representing my country. Now I’m it, I’ll do my best to win it.”
By contrast China’s Jingle Chen, reigning International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R Slalom World Champion, was so dominant in the girls’ Asia division that she was able to sit out the final day’s last few races and still coast to victory overall with a comfortable margin.
Yet she is already looking forward to what she will knows will be harder tests at the forthcoming TT:R Slalom Youth Worlds and the Youth Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in October, and is preparing to knuckle down to even more intense training.
“The Olympics are so important to me, so I’m happy to be going,” said Chen, 17. “But right now I feel my level is going to down, so I’ll have to train hard. I was up against the European girls in Italy last year, and they’re very fast.”
In the Oceania boys’ group disputed on the warm waters off Pranburi’s Paknampran Beach, seasoned kitefoil racer Mani Bisschops enjoyed a similarly dominant role, rarely putting a foot wrong and winning almost every one of the division’s 20 races to take the regional berth.
“I’m stoked to get the spot,” said Bisschops. “The Olympics is so prestigious, and now kiting has made it in. To be one of the first people going is amazing. I’ve always looked up to people who made it to the Olympics.”
Racing novice Pia Kitchin Gordon (NZL), the sole Oceania girls’ entrant, was competing among the tough, mixed fleet of boys and developed in bounds. She bagged the Oceania girls’ spot by virtue of competing.
Yet the Iconic Kitesurfing Youth Olympics Qualifiers, being organised by Kiteboard Tour Asia (KTA) and the Kiteboarding Association of Thailand (KAT), were filled with five nerve-jangling days of racing that showcased the TT:R Slalom format specially-developed for YOG at its finest.
With just four YOG spots available—two for boys and two for girls each from Asia and Oceania—the competition was bound to be intense. Another eight of a total of 24 spots available had already be allocated in qualifiers in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, and Dakhla, Morocco.
But it was the Pranburi qualifier’s Asia boys’ division that threw up the most enthralling battles, with local favourite, Sarun “Nai” Rupchom (THA), leading the standings and looking tough to beat over the opening days.
In the last two days, though, as the breezes moderated from the perfect 20kts of the opening days, Rupchom’s challenge went awry as the pressure seemed to get to him and he suffered several disqualifications for crossing the startline early.
The mistakes cost the Thai rider dearly and he finished third overall, overhauled by China’s Haoran Zhang, another early leader. Zhang’s gritty performances kept him in the hunt and he took the second step on the podium.
Both Rupchom and Zhang will be looking to set matters right when they go to the IKA TT:R Slalom Youth Worlds in Hainan, China, in May, when the last eight YOG places will be on offer for those who top the standings.
Top three boys Asia division (after 20 elimination rounds, four discards)
1 Christian Tio (PHI) 26pts
2 Haoran Zhang (CHN) 34pts
3 Sarun Rupchom (THA) 41pts
Top three girls Asia division (after 20 races, four discards)
1 Jingle Chen (CHN) 16pts
2 Kewen Li (CHN) 32pts
3 Nichanan Rodthong (THA) 43.3pts
Top three boys Oceania division (after 20 races, four discards)
1 Mani Bisschops (AUS) 16pts
2 Aaron Kenny (AUS) 31pts
3 William Barlette (AUS) 54pts
Top girl Oceania division (after 20 races, four discards)
1 Pia Kitchin Gordon (NZL) 53pts
China’s Jingle Chen again proved untouchable at the Asia and Oceania Youth Olympic Games (YOG) kiteboard racing qualifiers, putting in another flawless shift to win all her races on the warm, flat waters of the Gulf of Thailand.
None of Chen’s rivals in the girls’ Asia division seemed to have any answers for the pace and consistency of the reigning TwinTip:Racing (TT:R) Slalom Open World Champion in the lighter 14kts breezes on day four of the qualifiers being staged off Pranburi’s glorious Paknampran Beach.
Chen has barely put a foot wrong and won every one of her races in the girls’ Asia division, giving her a commanding lead that almost assures her the qualification spot going into the final day.
But she will be looking to measure herself against the rather stiffer competition of the world’s fastest girls at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R Slalom Youth Worlds in Hainan, China, in May, where the last eight YOG qualification spots will be on offer.
“This may not be the hardest racing for me, but it’s really good training,” said Chen, 17. “At home in China, we don’t really get to train courses of obstacles and buoys. I’m having fun and still learning a lot, jumping the obstacles with better pop and down-looping the kite faster at the marks.”
Her closest rival at the Iconic Kitesurfing Youth Olympics Qualifiers, team-mate Kewen Li, has misfortune of following in Chen’s wake in every race. But as a kiter of just eight months’ experience she feels lucky to have chance to be part of the ambitious Chinese team.
“I’ve only ever done racing, but here with every heat I feel I’m learning so much,” said Li, also 17. “Having Chen in front of me always gives me something to aim for and I try to get as close to her as possible. I’m definitely getting faster and faster.”
In the girls’ Oceania division Pia Kitchin Gordon finds herself racing in a mixed fleet with the Oceania boys as she is the only entrant, guaranteeing her a qualification spot for the Games in Buenos Aires in October.
But the determined 17-year-old who has been racing for just three weeks has been getting quicker, notching up a clutch of third places finishes that had taken her to third on the leaderboard. But she slipped to fourth on day four after hitting the obstacle that pushed her down he order.
The highly-competitive Asia boys’ fleet at the qualifiers, organised by Kiteboard Tour Asia (KTA) and Kiteboarding Association of Thailand (KAT), threw up yet another change of lead after the Philippines’ Christian Tio topped the standings.
Tio, a rising kiteboard freestyle star, bagged a trio of first place finishes in the key elimination round deciders, to push local boy and overnight leader Sarun “Nai” Rupchom (THA) into third spot overall.
Tio’s consistency was in contrast to Rupchom, who seemed to be feeling the pressure, crossing the startline early and earning himself a costly disqualification in the day’s last elimination round decider.
The Philippines’ rider’s performances also gave him a clear lead in the standings over second placed Haoran Zhang, of China. Tio has clearly learned quickly since the opening exchanges of the competition, growing faster and fine-tuning his TT:R Slalom race craft.
“To tell you the truth I was a bit surprised at the start, seeing the level being so high here,” said Tio. “But I think I’ve now adapted to that level. I also know to hold a bit back and conserve energy in the heats, so that I can go for it in the elimination deciders.”
Top three boys Asia division (after 16 elimination rounds, four discards)
1 Christian Tio (PHI) 18pts
2 Haoran Zhang (CHN) 24pts
3 Sarun Rupchom (THA) 26pts
Top three girls Asia division (after 16 races, four discards)
1 Jingle Chen (CHN) 12pts
2 Kewen Li (CHN) 23pts
3 Nichanan Rodthong (THA) 35.3pts
Top three boys Oceania division (after 16 races, four discards)
1 Mani Bisschops (AUS) 12pts
2 Aaron Kenny (AUS) 24pts
3 William Barlette (AUS) 38pts
Top girl Oceania division (after 16 races, four discards)
1 Pia Kitchin Gordon (NZL) 39pts
Full results, all elimination series results, and live scoring atwww.twintipracing.com
None of the top contenders in the hotly-contested boys’ Asia division at the Youth Olympics Games (YOG) kiteboard racing qualifiers in Thailand had it all their own way in a day of dramatic ups and downs.
But local favourite Sarun “Nai” Rupchom—whose home waters off Pranburi’s Paknampran Beach are hosting the unfolding drama—again climbed to the top of the leaderboard, but only by the finest of margins.
Rupchom notched up two wins in the vital elimination round deciders in kiteboarding’s fast and furious International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TwinTip:Racing (TT:R) Slalom discipline, but crashed and suffered a poor start in two others that put him down the order.
Yet his performances on day three of the Iconic Kitesurfing Youth Olympic Qualifiers for the Asia and Oceania regions were enough to keep him just ahead of his Philippines rival, Christian Tio.
Both leapfrogged overnight leader, China’s Haoran Zhang, who won the day’s last elimination decider in perfect breezes of 20kts, only to discover he had been disqualified for being over the startline within one minute of the “go” signal.
Yet with two days of competition remaining and just one point separating the leading Asia boys’ trio, any of them could yet claim the sole spot and earn the right to go to the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in October.
Three other spots, one for the Asia girls’ division and a boy and girl each from Oceania, are up for grabs at the competition, organised by Kiteboard Tour Asia (KTA) and the Kiteboarding Association of Thailand (KAT).
In the Asia girls’ division, reigning IKA TT:R Slalom World Champion, China’s Jingle Chen, 17, was untouchable with another flawless day to keep her head of the leaderboard, a performance matched by Australia’s Mani Bisschops, who tops the boys’ Oceania division.
In the girls’ Oceania division New Zealand’s Pia Kitchin Gordon is the only entrant and is racing in a mixed group among the boys. But with growing confidence and speed she took several third places and a second that illustrated a marked improvement on her opening days’ forays.
Like all but five of the other competitors at the Pranburi qualifiers she is riding an Upeksha Gawa board specially designed for the downwind TT:R Slalom format that was crafted for YOG to foster excitement and spectacle.
Uniquely, of all the kiteboard manufacturers, the boutique Upeksha brand based locally in Pranburi was the only one to submit a specialist slalom design—the Gawa—for registration with the IKA for the Youth Games.
Coaches at well-funded and ambitious teams have had their riders testing the long and slender carbon-fibre Gawa boards for several months and quickly realised it could give their team members a crucial edge in speed and control.
Dahui Zhai, head coach of the Chinese national team, discovered the board could be a vital one or two percent faster—though others reckon as much as six percent quicker—and put his boys and girls on the Gawa.
“We’re really prepared to look for any advantage within the rules because this is so important to us,” said Zhai. “Take Jingle Chen, she’s been kiting since 2012, but some of our boys only started in 2016. So we have to try our best to find the best equipment to win the events and the places. I think it’s totally fair because the IKA made the rules. If it’s faster, that’s good for the event and for kiting.”
Bong Fernando, the Philippines’ team coach, is also sold. “For sure there’s a reason the team is using these boards. In my experience in TT:R the Upeksha Gawa has much better performance compared to a normal twin-tip. It has more speed and more grip. The other companies only registered normal twin-tips, but the Gawa is specially designed.”
Upeksha’s founder and director of engineering, Craig Chandler, has been excited by the reaction as more and more teams from around the world have been seeking out Gawa boards in the hope of securing places at the Youth Games.
“Right now, of the 10 places so far allocated for Argentina, six of the riders will be on our Gawa boards. By the finish of the event here in Pranburi, we very much hope we’ll add another three to that as most of the riders competing are on the board. It’s way beyond our wildest dreams.”
Top three boys Asia division (after 12 elimination rounds, four discards)
1 Sarun Rupchom (THA) 13pts
2 Christian Tio (PHI) 13pts
3 Haoran Zhang (CHN) 14pts
Top three girls Asia division (after 12 races, four discards)
1 Jingle Chen (CHN) 8pts
2 Kewen Li (CHN) 15pts
3 Nichanan Rodthong (THA) 24.3pts
Top three boys Oceania division (after 12 races, four discards)
1 Mani Bisschops (AUS) 8pts
2 Aaron Kenny (AUS) 16pts
3 William Barlette (AUS) 24pts
Top girl Oceania division (after 12 races, four discards)
1 Pia Kitchin Gordon (NZL) 24pts
Full results, all elimination series results, and live scoring atwww.twintipracing.com