South Africa’s Kite Beach on the Blouberg beachfront saw the return of the KFC Summer Kitesurf Series this past weekend, February 22-23, 2020. The focus of the weekend was a Strapless Wave Riding competition. The competition brought South Africa’s best wave riders as well as a host of international kiters with a total of 11 nations battling it out for a spot on the podium.
Saturday brought solid swell conditions with waves bigger than 3 metres, but the wind didn’t quite deliver. The competitors arrived on the beach for registration. A total of 43 competitors signed up, with 20 Men’s Open competitors and strong showings in both the Women’s (11 riders) and Master’s (12 riders) divisions. With little hope for wind on Saturday, riders and spectators stayed entertained with the Ocean Trade Supplies demo day. OTS is the local distributor of Ocean Rodeo kites and Shinn kiteboards. They had the new Aluula kite on the beach for everyone to test out – a great fit for the light wind conditions on the day. The Clean C crew were also onsite as they have partnered with the KFC Summer Kitesurf Series to assist in keeping our beach and ocean clean and user-friendly. The children from the Home of Hope also came to the beach to take advantage of the sunshine, dipping their toes in the ocean and learning how to fly a kite.
Home of Hope is an organisation that takes care of children, providing education to children with special needs and helping them to become productive and responsible members of the community, continuing support into adulthood through a working care farm and skills development opportunities. One Movement Events & Marketing, the organisers of the KFC Summer Kitesurf Series put all the entry fees from the series towards raising funds for the Home of Hope and throughout the season R25 000 was raised for this worthy cause.
The wind on Sunday arrived early, with the competition starting at 10:00 am but was shortly put on hold as generally, the wind drops off midday before picking up to the typical howling Cape Doctor Southeast. The swell that was forecasted never arrived with a modest 1-metre swell in the morning and capping out at around 2-2.5 metres in the afternoon. The variable conditions did nothing to quell the spirits of the riders as they took to the water to show off their moves.
Judges were scoring waves out of 10 with riders being rewarded for variety in moves, innovation, style and wave selection with the bigger set waves offering great scoring potential all while keeping in the most critical section of the wave. Heats were 10 minutes which gave the kiters more than enough time to find several good scoring potential waves. Each kiters top two waves of the heat contributed to their overall score.
First to hit the water were the Women’s and Master’s divisions, starting a seven-hour event of strapless wave riding. These heats ran straight through – with a short break for the midday lull – until the finals were able to be completed at 2:00 pm. In the Women’s final were local ladies Amanda Rootman and Lyde Heckroodt (3 times SA Wave Champ) competing against Sjoske Tuinstra (Dutch Kitesurf Champion) and Senna Bruijn from The Netherlands. With some serious style in the finals, Lyde Heckroodt landed herself a top spot on the podium with Rootman narrowly nudging out Tuinstra to finish second and third respectively.
In the Master’s division which was restricted to riders 40 years and above, each of the riders in the final had decades of experience riding right here at Kite Beach. These men have been some of the founding members of the South African kitesurfing community, and their level of riding in this event truly showed the mastery of their craft. In the final was Anthony Berzack, Irene’ Raubenheimer, Pierre Gallay, and Dave Maxwell. They made the most of the conditions, and the final podium saw Irene Raubenheimer on top with Anthony Berzack in 2nd and Dave Maxwell in 3rd.
The afternoon continued with the Men’s Open division, where 20 riders made their way through the ladder of heats. The wind and wave conditions had been improving throughout the day, and the majority of the eight riders that reached the semifinal had swapped down to 5m kites. With the increased wind in the afternoon, it made for tricky conditions. Riders had to navigate bumpy faces on the waves, but still, the bigger set waves offered the best scoring potential. The Men’s Open category duked it out through 14 heats before arriving at a stacked final with Oswald Smith, Matt Maxwell, Carl Ferreira, and Luke McGillewie. All 4 of the riders in the final are South African locals and have been trading podium spots for the past several years.
It was without a doubt the closest heat of the day, and any of the riders in it could have taken the podium. Early in the heat, it was Luke McGillewie who managed to pick out the wave of the day, earning a score of 9 points from the judges and clinching his spot at the top of the podium. Ferreira finished in 2nd place with Maxwell in 3rd. Luke was stoked to be back competing after having to sit out last season due to an injury and adding the Wave Riding victory to his Strapless Freestyle event win (also apart of the KFC Summer Kitesurf Series) earlier in January, just ahead of Matt Maxwell who finished 2nd.
The Strapless Wave Event was the final event in the 2019/2020 KFC Summer Kitesurf Series season. The series will return later in November for the 2020/2021 summer season with events including Strapless Wave, Freestyle, Strapless Freestyle, and Big Air plus some exciting new events still to be announced. Stay tuned!
Release: One Movement Events & Marketing
Photos: Madic Media
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