The opening skirmishes at the first TwinTip:Racing (TT:R) World Championships in eastern China lived up to the fast-emerging kite discipline’s deserved reputation for excitement and drama.
In no time at all, on the opening day of five, the leading women were scrapping for any small advantage in the intense, short downwind races and several of the leading contenders tangled fuelling competing pleas for justice to the on-shore umpires.
But the appeals were the exception rather than the rule at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R World Championships being staged on the ideal natural arena off Pingtan Island’s beach in conditions that were only a fraction shy of perfect.
The East China Sea served up flat water and a steady breeze of 11kts to 13kts in the large sheltered bay to kick off the action in the sixth successive edition of China International Kiteboarding Festival.
The festival highlights Pingtan as international kiting spot welcomed 112 riders from 28 nations and regions who will compete in the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup and Twin-Tip course racing disciplines being run alongside the TT:R Worlds.
In the Men's Open division it was Croatia’s Martin Dolenc, 17, who put himself in the driving seat with a series of controlled performances that saw him top of the table after the first elimination round.
The IKA TT:R European champion, who dominated the event in Italy in July over days of nail-biting competition, showed again that he had the nerve and timing to position himself for the all-important start that virtually guarantees a win in the eight-person heats lasting barely four minutes.
In his wake he left France’s Theo Lhostis, and Germany’s former Formula Kite world champion Florian Gruber respectively. Equal on points just behind the top three sit France’s Julien Kerneur and the Asian TT:R champion, Narapichit “Yo” Pudla (THA), who is confident that with more races he has the pace and race-craft to get the better of his rivals.
“I won a couple of the heats really well,” said Pudla.”But in the elimination round final I got boxed in at the start with Atte Kappel and was quite far back, but I managed to get back into contention. If I can avoid tangles and get a clear start, I think I showed in the races I won that I’m definitely fast enough.”
Tiger Tyson, of Antigua and Barbuda, sits in pole position in the U-19 Boys’ who will be eligible for the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires next year where the TT:R slalom/boardercross format will be used, just ahead of Cameron Maramenides (USA) and Sarun Rupchom (THA).
“I won every race overall,” said Tyson, 15, “I like these conditions as I was well powered on my 17m kite. I think I’m doing better because I’ve done quite a bit of foil racing and that has helped my racing and tactics. But TT:R is much more simple; it’s all about power and giving it your all.”
The women’s division is headed by world ranked number one, Kirstyn O’Brien (USA). She managed to keep just ahead of powerful racers, China’s Jingle Chen, Elena Kalinina (RUS) and Alexia Fancelli (FRA), thanks to a discard after three rounds, but was revelling in the moment.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said O’Brien. “It’s just nice to race against the women, not to say that it’s easy, especially on the start line. But this is a great venue.”
1. Martin Dolenc (CRO) - 1 pt
2. Theo Lhostis (FRA) - 2 pts
3. Florian Gruber (GER) - 3 pts
4. Julien Kerneur (FRA) - 4 pts
5. Narapichit Pudla (THA) - 4 pts
Women & Girls
1. Kirstyn O'Brien (USA) - 3 pts
2. Jingle CHen (CHN) - 3 pts
3. Elena Kalinina (RUS) - 4 pts
4. Alexia Fancelli (FRA) - 5 pts
5. Maryjane Gajisan (PHI) - 7 pts
1. Tiger Tyson (ANT) - 1 pt
2. Cameron Maramenides (USA) - 2 pts
3. Sarun Rupchom (THA) - 3 pts
4. Haoran Thang (CHN) - 4 pts
5. Remel Rentillo (PHI) - 5 pts
Full rankings and live elimination ladders with scoring:www.twintipracing.com
The winners of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) Twin-Tip Open in China were crowned at an exuberant closing ceremony after an event that offered a total of €10,000 prize money.
Britain’s Olly Bridge took the victory in the Men’s division, seeing off challenges from the French duo of Julien Kerneur and Theo de Ramecourt, who claimed the second and third spots respectively on the podium.
Perhaps the biggest upset was that Croatian Martin Dolenc, 17, who took the title at the TT:R Slalom Europeans in southern Italy in July, could only place ninth overall after failing to make the final.
With a chance for only one elimination round because of lack of wind, Dolenc had no opportunity to make up for any slip up. In good conditions scores of races and many elimination rounds are staged giving the opportunity for any mistakes or mishaps to even out.
But the IKA TT:R Slalom Open in Weifang, a down-wind format of short-sharp elimination heats in the format that will be used at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires next year, is merely the appetiser for the IKA TT:R Open World Championships on the windy Chinese island of Pingtan next week.
The Weifang TT:R Open was taking place alongside the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup which fared a little better as the foils can race in lighter winds than the twin-tipers who required stable minimum of 10kts for fair and exciting racing.
But many of the world’s fastest foilers also decided to take part in the TT:R event bringing the number of competitors to 43 from 12 nations.
France’s Alexia Fancelli won the Women and Girls’ division, while Thailand’s MaryJane Gajisan took second to see off Russia’s Elena Kalinina in third and Anaïs Mai Desjardins in fourth on count-backs as they were equal on points.
In the Boys’ U-19 division—those who will be eligible to compete at YOG in Argentina—Thailand’s Sarun Rupqhom using a specially-developed Upeksha slalom twin-twip just pipped Tiger Tyson (ANT) in second and Zhang HaoRan (CHN) in third.
The fleet is now heading to Pingtan Island for the open age world TT:R championships starting on September 18, 2018.