2017 IKA TwinTip:Racing Asian Championships kick off in Pranburi, Thailand
The long awaited opener to the 2017 TwinTip:Racing season in the lead up to next years Youth Olympic Games has arrived and with it brings a combination of many firsts.
The week-long event organized by KTA (Kiteboard Tour Asia) brings together both the Asian Continental Championships and Thai National Series. The event also for the first time sees the new Youth Olympic TT:R race format which all eyes are on and promises to provide some highly entertaining racing as the week progresses.
Proceedings kicked off over the weekend with the Moose Thailand Kiteboarding Championships running ahead of the Continentals. It would turn out to be a weekend of near perfect conditions, with clear blue skies and winds of between 16-18kts and the 70 strong local fleet had plenty to smile about by the end of play on Sunday evening.
Saturday would play host to the national TT:R fleet, which would be run over the more standard windward/leeward courses. Racing began early and race after race took us through to the end of the day.
Sunday brought another day of perfect stable winds and fierce competition as the Thai Nationals freestyle heats hit the water. The early morning blessings of the full-moon Tharn Boon Tak Bart ceremony seem to have secured the conditions and a high level of riding played out on the water for the rest of the day.
Following the beach award ceremony for the Moose Thailand Kiteboarding Championships, the whole event moved off to the local Thailand Kite Cable Park for an opening evening and party hosted by Moose and Red Bull, to welcome in the international riders and mark the start of the Moose Asian TT:R Championships and KTA Freestyle X.
With the beginning of the international competition, IKA Competition Director Markus Schwendtner took everyone through the new Youth Olympic race format. It’s certainly a very different package to what the riders are used to, but all the talk amongst them is positive and excited to try out the slalom and boardercross formats. This is especially true for the13 younger riders who are registered in for the Asian Championship, as they have the potential to be at the Youth Olympics in 2018.
The first full day of competition began somewhat slowly as the crew and competitors arrived to a beautiful, but as yet wind free morning.
However, nervous reviews of the day’s weather data revealed that the situation should improve and by the early afternoon we could once again be enjoying the conditions that prevail the previous weekend for the Thai Nationals. Thankfully, the weather gods and ‘Wind Guru’ were on the ball and as A.M. shifted to P.M. the air began to move and kites were soon began to be pumped and prepared.
TwinTip:Racin would lead proceedings for the day and following the skippers meeting, the riders headed for the water in anticipation of their first experience of the new slalom format.
Time trials would be the order of the day, with the full TTR fleet (combining men, women and youth) racing to provide the initial rider seeding’s needed to create the later slalom race groups. Slalom and Boardercross are the chosen formats for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and everyone is eagerly waiting to see this in action. For the seeding races a figure of 8 course was in place, which being laid only metres off the beach, was certainly going to be bringing front row action for everyone.
And what a spectacular sight as the 45 strong fleet blasted towards the beach from the upwind start line, rounding the first mark beachside and then settling into the figure of 8 course. Sweden’s Atte Kapple lead the way, as he would indeed do so for the second time trial also and it all seemed plain sailing as he raced towards mark 2 and the start of the figure 8.
It is quite something to be watching kite racing right at the beach line, especially as they hit the centre point of the figure 8 course and need to cross through each other almost. It was testament to the skill levels of the riders on display, as many spectators voiced their expectations of certain crashes and tangles that that did not really occur at any great level.
Certainly from the beach the enjoyment level was fantastic, as were the happy expressions of the returning riders. Without a doubt it was challenging racing and something quite different, but a few misunderstandings aside it seems the format was well received and time trialing has a place in the championship race week process.
Tomorrow then will see the start of the Youth Olympic Slalom proper, which could also include Boardercross jumps, depending of course on the conditions of the day. For the racers though, the new opening format has wet their appetite and tomorrow’s changes are being well anticipated.
From this point on the event moved across the KTA Freestyle-X, the format that combines both new school and old school tricks. Riders are required to perform both hooked and unhooked moves in their heats, with the top two moves of each style being scored by the judges to give the final outcome and winner.
In the end the freestyle rider were though, not be as lucky as the racers as the third and what turned out to be the final heat of the day was cancelled due to the dropping evening wind. Not however before KPL’s Eric Rienstra and Alex Cagarin took wins in their heats to progress through to the next round. These first two heats did however show the range and versatility that riders would be needing to demonstrate over the week to make their way to the final podium. Which means we are all in for a freestyle visual treat as the KTA Freestyle-X unfolds.
Rankings TT:R after Time Trials
1. Atte Kappel (SWE) - 2 pts
2. Chriistian Tio (PHI) - 5 pts
3. Narapichit Pudla (THA) - 5 pts
1. Kathrin Borgwardt (GER - 3 pts
2. Jingle Chen (CHN) - 3 pts
3. Nichanan Rodthong (THA) - 10 pts
1. Chriistian Tio (PHI) - 2 pts
2. Sarun Rupchom (THA) - 4 pts
3. Sirawit Prangsri (THA) - 6 pts
1. Jingle Chen (CHN) - 4 pts
2. Nichanan Rodthong (THA) - 4 pts
For more information, visit www.twintipracing.com