Winds began early this morning in Pranburi, and the crew made short time of pumping kites and getting the first rounds of racing underway, fearing that a strange forecasted weather front would move in early in the afternoon and kill the wind.
Riders took to the water to continue what was started in yesterday’s downwind slalom course, but today’s racing brought a new challenge: the introduction of Boardercross. 2 sets of Boardercross jumps were laid out within the slalom course, where riders were required to make successful jumps over the obstacles or face disqualification from the race. It certainly made for quite the show beachside, with plenty of thrills and spills, and a couple more tangles.
The battle for first place was hotly contested, with Yo Narapichit Pudla (Thailand) predictably at the front of the pack in a number of heats. Christian Tio (Philippines), sponsored rider of North and Red Bull proved himself as quite the racer, a nice addition to his already hefty collection of freestyle accolades.
For the women the battles continued afresh as we left them yesterday, with Jingle Chen (China) and long-time women’s Asian race champion Kathrin Borgwardt (Germany) taking the jumping addition in their stride. It was clear though that with the addition of jumps, there was much higher potential of position changes as the race unfolds. This is not just with the potential of not clearing the obstacle clearly as you might imagine, but also with the tactics needed to make the right approach and exit from the jump in the first place.
‘With just the plain slalom course yesterday the winner of each race was the person who made the first mark first’ Borgwardt mention, ‘but with the jumps you could easily lose speed if you got in wrong and be overtaken’
In our youth fleet the upfront action was all taking place between the Philippines, Thailand and Japan, as Christian Tio, Sarun Rupchom and Hiro Karamon also took eagerly to the Boardercross component. All though are equally at home in freestyle, so its perhaps not surprising that they felt at home and with this group in particular it was certainly showing the validity of the format for YOG.
Early in the afternoon racing turned over to Freestyle X, although for a short time the judges were questioning whether it should go ahead due to the questionable wind conditions. Thankfully the winds blew right back onto the beach just in time for us to begin what was to become a full afternoon of freestyle heaven.
Freestyle X is a competition format originally coined by the KTA. The rules are you will be marked 50% on new school tricks and 50% old school- the idea is that the best overall rider will win, not just the wake style expert or big air junky. From what we saw today, the format definitely pushed a lot of riders out of their comfort zones.
Three different divisions competed today- men’s, women’s and youth. The men’s were conducted in a very traditional timed heat format, 10 minutes per heat for 8 trick attempts, with 2 riders on the water at a time. Riders are marked on their best 4 tricks- 2 old school, 2 new school.
The women’s division was predictably small compared with the men’s, so instead of a timed heat with 2 riders each, the 4 competing girls were out on the water together with an unlimited time to complete their allocated 8 attempts each. As the wind continued to blow throughout the afternoon we were graced with conditions to compete through to the finals. In the end it was Aya Oshima of Japan who walked away with this year’s freestyle title, with Kathrin Borgwardt of Germany in second place, Young Eun Lee of Korea in third, and Fon Benyapa Jantawan in fourth.
The men’s division split at the semi-finals, with an A and B level of final heats. In the B level it was Eric Rienstra (USA), who nabbed the first spot over local Thai rider Praphan Thongnak, securing himself a spot on the podium. Eric is a regular on the Kite Park League tour, so has an impressive repertoire of tricks up his sleeve. In the A final, to nobody’s surprise, was Yo Narapichit Pudla and Christian Tio. Taking on 5 times Asian Champion is certainly not an easy task, but one that 15 year old Christian took into his stride nevertheless. Both riders fought hard, clearly pushing their abilities to the absolute limit. Yo, riding on a race kite, seemed to have the upper hand slightly in keeping upwind in relation to the competition box, whereas Christian on his North Vegas quickly lost distance, costing him valuable trick pulling time. The word from the judge’s tower is that in terms of their new school performances it was a tie, but when it came to their old school, well there’s just no beating the master Yo it seems, as he stole the show and nabbed his number one spot on the podium.
Men (after Qualifying round and 2 eliminations):
1. Narapichit Pudla (THA) - 5 pts
2. Atte Kappel (SWE) - 10 pts
3. Praphan Thongnak - 13 pts
Women (after Qualfying round and 4 eliminations):
1. Jingle Chen (CHN) - 4 pts
2. Kathrin Borgwardt (GER) - 9 pts
3. Aya Oshima (JPN) - 9 pts
Boys (after Qualifying round and 4 eliminations)
1. Chriistian Tio (PHI) - 5 pts
2. Sarun Rupchom (THA) - 8 pts
3. Hiro Karamon (JPN) - 14 pts
Girls (after Qualifying round and 4 eliminations)
1. Jingle Chen (CHN) - 4 pts
2. Ninachan Rodthong (THA) - 8 pts
For full details please visitwww.twintipracing.com/results