The KTA China is about to kick off tomorrow, if it is anything like the event in the Philippines it should be a cracker! Here is the wrap up video from that event and a full report from Neil Godbold alongside some stunning images!
When the original 2013 KTA schedule was released Boracay in the Philippines was to be the first tour stop in January, a month of guaranteed wind in this kiting paradise. January is also the best month for kite tourism and local kite businesses and by there being a KTA stop in the middle of this month it would limit the opportunities for the local kiters. KTA’s mission is to grow kiteboarding in Asia and thanks to the support of our understanding and forward thinking local sponsors Aqua Boracay by Yoo (www.aquaboracay.com) the alternate date of 26 to 30 March was set and what a week it turned out to be.
This Easter break also known as ‘Holy week’ in the Philippines is one of their biggest holiday weeks and Boracay was teeming with people. The start of April is also considered the kiteboarding season end on Bulabog beach, with the winds turning 180 degrees and the kiting venue moving across to the famous White Beach. The KTA however seem to have wind wherever they go and it was once again true with not a windless day for the 4th KTA Boracay event in as many years.
This the 3rd tour stop of the season brought people from all over Asia and the world to participate once again, with 68 competitors from 21 countries competing in one or more disciplines. Heading into the event there were off course many close fought tour battles to be watched, such as between the top ladies in the Race Board (RB) class Fon Benyapa Jantawan (THA) and Kathrin Borgwardt (GER) and the top men in the freestyle class Yo Narapichit Pudla (THA) and Long Nguyen Duc (VIE). Local eyes were however on Philippine favourites Louie (Bong) Fernando in RB, Ken Nacor in RB and freestyle, Christian Tio the youngest competitor in the freestyle and Doque de los Santos, Jay Ortiz and Reynard (Along) Gajisan in the Men’s TT racing. In total there were 24 riders from the Philippines registered showing that this country must have the conditions to produce these top class athletes.
The conditions were indeed spot on during the run in to the event for the day before and on registration day the winds were there in the morning, smoothing off and becoming lighter later in the day, which was ideal for the Kite Kids Tour, which once again had an incredible turnout and interest from the local kids and support from some of the competitors who were prepared to lend a hand to get them confident and take them for a body drag or help them master the kite flying techniques.
On registration day, after all the competitors had picked up their competition packs they headed over to White Beach for the opening party. Kasbah Moroccan restaurant provided a great beach venue for sunset drinks, snacks and superb entertainment in the form of belly dancers, pole dancers and break dancers.
The second day of the event and first day of competition dawned with a stormy grey sky and ominous looking clouds with puffy wind. The locals were positive that the wind would come and seemingly on cue it arrived as the riders collected in front of Aqua Boracay by Yoo for the 9am skipper’s meeting. With the wind averaging over 14 knots the girls were sent out for the first round of the women’s single elimination freestyle the wind was looking promising, but started to drop as the men headed out for their first round. Young local favourite Christian Tio(PHI) was knocked out by top international rider Nicolas Gambier(FRA) in the first men’s heat of the day, before the freestyle was called off in the third heat.
The RB racers were sent out next with an amazing start from top women racer Fon Jantawan(THA) who kept up with the men in the first race, but unfortunately could not repeat the performance in the next two races of the day where Kathrin Borgwardt(GER) took top spot and Aya Oshima(JAP) challenged Jantawan to get one second in on the first day, showing that the women’s racing here was going to be exciting. In the men’s there were no surprises as Narapichit(Yo) Pudla(THA) lead out and Ken Nacor(PHI) was hot on his heels, leaving the rest of the fleet to fight for third spot.
The TT racing was to see more challengers as some of the top RB racers decided to join in this division. Jay Ortiz(PHI) ended on top of the men’s but the fleet mixed it up well with Dennis Wong(HKG), William Bourget(FRA) and Louie Fernando(PHI) each winning a race. For the ladies Rebecka Maudal(NOR) who had struggled in Thailand started off well, but young Yue Chen(CHN) was hot on her heels. Traditionally and RB racer Borgwardt must have found her TT rhythm after the first two races to win the last three of the day confidently, ending on top at the end of the day.
After a full day of competing the KTA crew headed out to celebrate the coming of the full moon at Moonzone. Legend has it that there is always wind on the full moon if it is celebrated well
Day three arrived sooner than many freestyle riders hoped for with good wind and an early start to continue the single elimination bracket. The first upset came in the first ladies heat of the day when Dina Muldasheva(RUS) beat the reigning Asian champ Aya Oshima(JAP). In the men’s heats Victor Borsuk(POL) came out firing with several superb combos which saw him easily working his way up the ladder. Meanwhile on the other side of the ladder we saw some superb action in strengthening winds as longtime rivals Yo Narapicit Pudla(THA) and Ken Nacor(PHI) came up against each other before the semi-finals, with Nacor going through in front of his home crowd. As is common in Boracay this time of the year the wind started backing off late in the morning, so it was decided to move onto racing and wait for more wind for the completion of the freestyle.
After lunch in steady 12 knot breeze it was time for the TT racers to get out for 3 back to back races. Xiao Cheng Deng(CHN) came through first for the men in the first race, but it was not enough to see him move up onto the podium by the end of the day. For Fernando the withdrawal of Ortiz and de los Santos, as well as several good finishes and a first on the day saw him on top of the fleet with a delighted Kappel and Wong right behind him. In the women’s Borgwardt maintained an easy lead ahead of Chen and Maudal.
The three RB races of the day saw no change in the top spots for the men, but third spot was hotly contended between Fernando and Turkish champ Taner Aykurt(TUR). The women’s RB had all the supporters on the edges of their seats at this stage with Jantawan and Borgwardt swopping top spot from race to race and ending with the exact same points at the end of the day. Anything could still happen though with two possible days of racing left and so it was time to take a night off and re-energize for the rest of the week.
Friday and day four of the competition was also the first day of the Weekend Warrior and the first ever KTA Kids Races. Eight children all from the Philippines and under the age of 14 took part. As expected Christian Tio was out front, but he did have some stiff competition and now that Remel Rentillo and Mark Maa know how, he will have to watch out. The three ladies and two men in the Weekend Warriors also had their first taste of racing and hopefully this will mean that next time KTA is in town they will step it up to the TT class. Both these race classes are seen as feeder classes for the larger race fleets as it can be intimidating for first time racers, young and old to be out there competing against dozens of other riders.
The freestylers were released early for the day that was filled with TT and RB racing. In the TT standings not much changed even though both Chinese riders were more on form again and young Yue Chen(CHN) winning both races in the ladies division. The maximum number of RB races were run in the steady light breezes with and in the men’s division Atte Kappel(NOR) stepped up to challenge for third position. In the ladies Jantawan managed to win one more race than Borgwardt and ended the day one point in the lead with Oshima settling into third with not much hope of moving up the ranks by the end of the regatta.
With all the available discipline options being exhausted the day was called to an end and an evening of friends and merriment was planned with the hope of more wind for the final day of competition and the completion of the freestyle.
The weatherman was right and the final morning of competition arrived along with 20 knots plus of wind and an 8 am start for the freestylers. First up was the men’s fight for third before the finals in both the women’s and men’s which saw Kristiin Oja(EST) beat Estefania Rosa(BRA) in a similar match to the finals in Thailand and Victor Borsuk(POL) win out against local favorite Nacor. The wind was still picking up and after a short ceremony to announce the results of the single elimination on the beach it was straight into the double elimination in perfect sunshine, flat water and 25knot conditions.
The ladies were now on their 7 and 8m kites and the men on their 9’s going big, throwing in combinations and impressing the crowds. In the ladies Oshima was the stand out of the day as she clawed up the ladder winning five heats only to be stopped once she had her feet firmly on the podium by a fresh Rosa. The windy conditions still saw these girls looping, air passing and landing wrapped and blind with power. Unfortunately the wind did start to drop in the final between Estonia’s Oja and Rosa, not allowing them to showcase the level of the ladies ability as they would have liked, but both were happy with their heats and Oja’s power is what won her top spot over Rosa once again.
In the men’s double elimination Philippine rider Reynard (Along) Gajisan also tried to stage a comeback from an unfortunate placing in the singles where he was beaten early on by the winner Borsuk. Gajisan won four heats in a row only to be stopped by Long Nguyen Duc(VIE) in a repeat of a battle that has played out at both the first two stops of this tour. Nguyen Duc then moved up to meet Nacor in a rematch from the single eliminations, which this time went in the Vietnamese rider’s favour and gave him the opportunity to challenge for top spot against Borsuk. Borsuk’s powerful combo moves both regular and switch however still kept him at the top of the freestyle results for the 2013 KTA Boracay.
There was still wind and day left and a keen group of racers who wanted to improve their results, so two more races were run in all the divisions. Deng continued to race more consistently after a bad start to the competition and finally made his way back onto the podium in the men’s TT class, with only Kappel and Fernando ahead of him. There were no changes in the ladies TT division, but a very exciting finish to the RB division racing. Due to a miscount on the number of laps there were two new winners of the first RB race of the day with Taner Aykurt(TUR) securing his third position for the event. The miscount also gave Joanna Santos(PHI) her first ever win in RB class and hopefully motivated her to continue in this division. Top ladies spot in the RB class ended closer than ever before with a tie in the final net points and only the win given to Borgwardt as she won the final race of the event in a close finish.
After a full week of kiting with results in all competition categories and 14 RB, 12 TT, 4 Kids TT and 4 Weekend Warrior races completed it was time to get dressed up for the final evening prize giving at Tides and then time to party down at Area 51.
Thanks again to local sponsor Aqua Boracay by Yoo who provided the superb location and support. Also to the support of The Department of Tourism Philippines, Boracay weather station, Kasbah, Boracay Kitchen, Boracay Kite Resort, Surfer’s Home, Tides Hotel, Moonzone and all the lovely people of Boracay.
On top of that again a final big shout-out to Cabrinha for all those lovely prizes and the support throughout the tour also to Maelstorm and Ozone for backing the KTA Kite Kids, plus our ongoing tour sponsorship support from the Blue Orange Ville and Kite Zone Thailand.
Top Three Places – KTA Philippines
Freestyle Men Freestyle Women
1. Victor Borsuk (POL) Kristiin Oja (EST)
2. Long Nguyen Duc (VIN) Estefania Rosa (BRA)
3. Ken Nacor (PHL) Aya Oshima (JPN)
RB Class Men RB Class Women
1. Yo Narapichit Pudla (THA) Kathrin Borgwardt (GER)
2. Ken Nacor (PHL) Fon Jantawan Benyapa (THA)
3. Tanner Aykurt (TUR) Aya Oshima (JPN)
TT Class Men TT Class Women
1. Louie Fernando (PHL) Kathrin Borgwardt (GER)
2. Atte Kapple (SWE) Yue Chen Jing (CHN)
3. Xiao Cheng Deng (CHN Rebecka Maudal (NOR)
Kite Kids TT
1. Christian Tio (PHL)
2. Remel Rentilo (PHL)
3. John Steven (PHL)
Weekend Warriors TT
1. Hendrik Vande Perre (HOL) Viola Kaukomen (GER)
2. Alaistair Hopper (CAN) Maryjane Gajisan (PHL)
3. Dave Barnes (GBR) Rina Violeta (PHL)
All Photos: Alexandru Baranescu