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Hi Frank, Just wanted to say thanks a million we had a lovely time - the apartments were so central, great nightlife & restaurants & our lack of spanish coming along!!! haha. Tks again,

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First Stop on the World Tour 2008

   

Nobile

Website: sophiemathews.com  
Sponsors: Nobile Kiteboarding , Greenish Clothing , Dwarf 8 

The KPWT celebrates its 10 anniversary.

1st stop on the Kite World Tour
FRANCE - ST.Gilles Croix de Vie 28th April - 5th May

Greenish

  For those of you who don´t know, I orginally came to Tarifa for the windsurfing, but during a season teaching in Venezuela I picked up a kite and never looked back. That was January 2007. Now little over one year later I have just completed my first competition on the KPWT World Tour, finishing 5th in the freestyle


KPWT kicked off in France. The venue was the small, quaint seaside town of St. Gilles Croix de Vie in the north west of France

To get there was a 22 hour non stop drive from Tarifa with Soufiane Hamaini and Ania Grzelenska, both regular talent on the local beaches of Tarifa and veterans in the world of competitive kiting. Fantastic, a captive audience, the perfect opportunity to pick the brains of these pros and pick up as many tips as possible in preparation of my first Kiting Competition.

I was looking forward to seeing the spot, but as you can imagine arriving at 3.30am there is not much to see. So after a few hours kip registration day bought blue skies and wind.


The day before the competition starts, also known as registration day, is when riders arrive from all corners of the world, enter the competition and test the conditions. This way there should, in theory, be no surprises !

Contrary to popular belief the KPWT tour is incredibly international with riders coming from as far as Hawaii, Dominican Republic, Cape Verde, and Australia, not to mention some not so exotic places such as the UK and Norway.


After 49 kiters had registered we were left to our own devices. I decided that it would be best to go on the water test the wind and see whether I could land any of my moves. As you may know, you get very accustomed to your local spot, the wind direction and state of the water. However, it is a whole different ball game sailing in other spots, where the wind may be from a different direction, be gustier, the water flatter, choppier or colder. Well this was in fact the case. Although many of you may agree that Tarifa does not offer the easiest of conditions, whether it be nuclear levante, or wavy poniente, it is one of the most challenging places to kite. So if the rider can succeed in improving and sailing good here, then in general it will be easy to adjust to other conditions than say for the riders coming from the warm waters and constant winds of Brazil.

Just because it was sunny the boys from the Domincan Republic sailed in boardies which made the rest of us feel even colder in our 5mm wet suits.

Having tested the conditions , I decided not to over do it and head for the beach to watch the other riders. I have to admit that there were moments when I felt well in over my head, but after encouraging words from the other competitors, I began to relax. They really had the most fantastic attitude towards the ‘new girl'and were always more than happy to share their past experiences and advice. This came through more than ever with the girls and I felt warmly welcomed into the group of competitors.

6am alarm and all the riders appear for breakfast and bury their head in coffee and hot chocolate, I have to say there was not a lot of chat as it was still dark outside and freezing cold, so with ski jackets and wooley hats we all attended the skippers meeting at 7am and the competition was underway.

Sitting here now I can´t even find the words to describe quite how cold it was, or how bitter the wind The fact that the meeting was held 100m away from the hotel, but we went in the car may give you some idea. So you can only imagine how much we were all looking forward to getting into the water !!!!!!!!!


3 days of wind had been forecast, and for those of you who dont know, the KPWT has 3 disciplines. Freestlye, Waves, and Racing. So if the forecast was right we had to complete the single eliminations per discipline for both men and women in one day. So the pressure was really on, for both riders and organisers. First yellow flag at 8.15am.
For those of you who are new to this the general running of the flags for competitions are:-
• yellow up : beginning of transition, down : 1 min before start start
• blue up - heat start, down : 1 min before end of heat

The conditions were looking good for 9 m with onshore wind and waves, but perfect flat sections in which to do moves. I was in the second heat, which at the time I was thankful for, however, it just gave me more time to get nervous, (error.... i was beginning to regret the third cup of coffee) and to remember all that I had been told I wen t to the water to get upwind of the competition area, so the moment the blue flag went up I would be ready for my first move. BUT,...... as we headed out the wind dropped dramatically leaving all four of us underpowered and unable to get upwind enough to be in the judging area. But, show must go on, and as the blue flag went up I was still unable to get into the competition area. Something that must be remembered is that any trick landed outside the markers will not be counted. In the end the wind picked up just enough so I could stay in the zone, and with elation and relief I moved through to the next round. Call it beginners luck, but i think I did a good job.


Happy and standing on the beach waiting to hear the results from the round I had just completed, I heard over the loudspeaker that the next heat would be between Marine Sudre from Australia and me - shock horror !!!!......The yellow flag was up, and Marine was already on the water and upwind of the judging area. I in the meantime was still on the beach, such is inexperience! So with adrenaline pumping through my veins in excitement, but also a bit agitated, I unrolled my lines and headed out to meet Marine. Blue flag up and battle begins. Marine who has competition experience pulled off a solid heat with a variety of unhooked and hooked in tricks and a one footed jump. I landed all my moves but they lacked variety as all my tricks were unhooked and I crashed a kite-loop right at the end. - Shame.!!

Marine lost in the semi-finals to Ainoah Garica, from Tarifa, whose style, experience and love of strong winds meant she pulled off her moves with ease.

Meanwhile, Ania Grzelinska and Kirsty Jones from the UK had a grear heat, but Ania's solid manoeuvres and 4 years of copetition experience took her through to the final against Ainhoa The girls gave it their all. The wind had picked up substantially and they pumped up their 5 meters. However the strong winds proved to be no problem for them who stuck even some of the most technical moves.

After a fabulous final, the results were;

FREESTYLE WOMEN FIRST ROUND

1.. Ania GRZELINSKA (POL) NORTH KITEBOARDING
2.. Ainhoa GARCIA (SP) AIRUSH
3.. Marine SUDRE (AUS) FLEXIFOIL
4.. Kirsty JONES (UK) CABRINHA

A quick lunch break and on with the men's freestyle.
The boys fought it out through three rounds with a fantastic display and variety of tricks until the starting 31 were narrowed down to 4 riders for the semi finals. Ariel Corniel from the Dominican Republic beat Erik Volpe with his powerful new school manoeuvres to take his place in the finals. Meanwhile French rider Antoine Auriol, a regular face on the tour, was beaten by the young hot shot from Maui Jessi Richman.

The final was close with the two young riders battling it out matching trick for trick. Jessi was pipped to the post by Dominican rider Ariel who´s consistancy put him on the podium in first place.
Final Result.

FREESTYLE MEN FIRST ROUND

1.. Ariel CORNIEL (REP DOM) EH
2.. Jesse RICHMAN (US) CABRINHA
3.. Antoine AURIOL (FR) KITELOOSE
4.. Erik VOLPE (IT) CHALLENGERS

So at 6.30pm the freestyle single eliminations were completed and we had a result. There was a fantastic display of old school verses new school, control, power and agility with every rider executing their moves with individual style.

As in every competition there is always one rider who stands out, and more often than not it is not always the winner.
Thomas Cocquelet pulled off a crazy kiteloop landing it perfectly and at full speed, but as the wind was onshore, by the time he had realized where he was he hit the beach, crashed his kite, but stood up laughing and left the whole crowed cheering, smiling and talking about it for the rest of the competition.

Day 2 - TheWaves - and again it's a 7am skippers meeting. Another fresh morning (for lack of colourful language) the ski jackets and wooly hats came out. The conditions were good to run the competition although the waves were not very organised, making it more difficult from the rider to choose a good wave.

In the wave discipline the judges score the competitors three best waves. So there is a lot of strategy included. The rider may decide to wait out back to see whether a good set comes along, or , select waves closer to the beach and make the most of it.

In the men's catagory, Spanish Rider and World Champion of Waves 2007 Abel Lago showed why he is the best. Advancing through his heats with ease, eventually coming against Mitu Monteiro from Cape Verde. Lago showed unique style, and agility on the waves and his experience meant intelligent selection of waves landing him on the podium and winner of the waves. Third and forth position was fought out between the two Dominicans, with Jan Marcos showing off some outstanding skills in strapless surfing winning over Alex Soto.

1.Abel Lago
2.Mitu Monteiro
3.Jan Marcos Riveiras
4.Alex Soto

In the women's Kirsty Jones from theh UK known for ripping in the waves won against Ania Grzelinska. Although Ania put up a good fight, it was not enough to get ahead of Kirsty whose fluidity on the wave lead her to first place.
Local Tarifeña Ainhoa Garcia sailed an aggressive heat taking third place over Marine Sudre from Australia.

1.Kirsty jones
2.Ania Grzelinska
3.Ainhoa Garcia
4.Marine Sudre.

Day 3 - Racing

Another early start as the wind was due to stop in the afternoon. We had a briefing of how the racing was going to work. Men and Women would be competing together, so alarm bells ring and all I can think is "Carnage at the start line "!

We all headed out up wind and milled around on the start line, but then it seemed that neither I nor any other rider had any idea when it was going to start or could see the flags. Suddenly we're off ! we all headed to the first buoy at full speed, then half of the fleet headed back to the last buoy on the beach..... the rest of us to marker number two (as briefed) and then a broad reach to the finish line!!! Fantastic I was really happy with the 4th position. But we were quickly informed that the heat was cancelled as one of the marker buoys had slipped. We were given a 40 minute wait ( time to get very very cold) then to head out to the start line again.

3,2,1 and we ´re off again! first buoy check, second, check and then a dash to the finish line. All huddled on the beach awaiting the result, we were told that the heat had been cancelled due to time keeping problems. !!

Now if you have never done racing before here is a little insight. The course is not short, and always has an upwind mark, usually at the start. By the time you have battled your way to get to it, your legs and stomach are aching. By the second mark your legs are screaming, and on the broad reach to the finish line they are more like jelly so absorbing the chop is more like doing 12 sets of lunges after running to Valdevaqueros and back, if you catch my drift. So you can imagine how overjoyed we were to hear that we would have to do it a third time, and still no scores were counted.

Third time lucky, and one after the other the tired competitors crossed the finish line, probably thinking of nothing other than a hot shower. But we had at last result.

Men

1.Jessi Richman
2.Soufiane Hamaini
3.Abel Lago
4.Mitu Monteiro

Women

1.Kari Schibevaag
2.Helen Thompson
3.Ainhoa Garcia
4.Marina Sudre

So after three days of non stop competition we had completed the single eliminations for all three disciplines. The forecast was not good for the rest of the week so what better opportunity to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the KPWT, the achievements of all the riders, and the hard work of the organizers.

A circus tent had been put up for the weeks competition with displays of acrobatics and entertainments. Great music to kick start the party and the rest is history.

All in all,a fantastic week and a real insight into the life of the pro riders. I enjoyed every moment of it, the kiting, the competition, representing my sponsors and meeting interesting other people with whom I share a passion for the sport. I am looking forward to the next stop of the tour which takes us to Lake Como in Italy. Until then I will be training here in Tarifa.

Many thanks to the Kpwt for their hard work in organising the competition and my Sponsors Nobile Kiteboarding , Dwarf 8 and Greenish .