Read the story from Jannicke about her adventure:
After having a blast at KTA Boracay back in February 2010 I thought there couldn´t be a better scene than attending Kite Tour Asia for being a competition debutant. So off I went for the 2nd season of the tour -and looking back after 6 months I´ve already started the countdown for the 3rd tour! Here´s a walk down memory lane from this season´s tour, where I spent the winter months in Boracay, Philippines and attended 4 out of 5 events.
It was a flash backdrop for the first tour stop, KTA Turkey in September, being held at 7800 Cesme, a beautiful resort 80 km from the 3rd largest city of Turkey, Izmir. It couldn’t´t have kicked off any better with sunshine, turquoise waters and good wind on registration day, and the local organizers definitely contributed to the good vibe staying on top of everything with a smile on their face. The competition area also showed it´s best side the first days; not normally being a kite spot and with side-onshore wind, the riders showed off some spectacular moves right in front of the venue. A highlight of the single elimination was Robin Snuggs (UK) up against Mallory De La Villamarque (FR) in the men´s semifinal; last season in Boracay the excitement in the air was sky-high before the decision was in that Robin defeated Mallory in the final. However, this time around Mallory took the victory, and also was the one to stand on top of the podium for the men´s freestyle.
West-coast Turkey seems to be a hidden gem so far to the European kitesurfing crowd; with the super conditions here, KTA Turkey also was a scene for very skilled Turkish riders. On the last day of competition Arzu Taylan gave British Champion Hannah Whiteley a battle for the freestyle title in the double elimination, and a few of the spectators gasped as she did not hold back going for kiteloops in strong and gusty offshore winds. Gusty offshore-winds unfortunately made the last days of competition more challenging for both organizers and riders, and we could see why the beach is not the usual spot to kite in this area (which are Pirlanta Beach & Alacati). The jet-ski was heavily used as rescue service during racing as riders struggled to make it back to the beach. However the organizers prioritized very well with the given conditions and in the end all disciplines were completed; double elimination freestyle, 9 races, a kiteloop challenge and hangtime competition. As for me, it was for sure motivating to take part in my first international competition, and it gave me important experience for later. Earlier I´ve said “when choosing between two kite sizes, ride the smaller because it will require more when it comes to timing and technique”. However, this is not an advice to follow for a freestyle heat where you want to easily go upwind, and the wind drops just a little bit when you are out there waiting for the green flag… Turkey definitely was an excellent place to open KTA this season, and hopefully the event gave inspiration to kiters looking for new places to explore. One main intention of KTA though is to give Asian riders a competition scene, so Turkey won´t be a stop next season as it will be too costly for riders who wish to join the whole tour to travel all the way. Consider making it a destination for yourself as there´s an array of kite spots to choose from, food is amazing and the people are generous and lively!
Missing out on KTA China in November, it was with eager anticipation I traveled to KTA Vietnam in January in a group of 11 riders traveling together from the Philippines. Arriving in the middle of the night in Saigon it was a challenge finding transportation (and we don´t travel light), but in the early morning on registration day we arrived in Mui Ne. The forecast was not too promising for the first days, so we got some much needed rest after traveling, enjoyed delicious Vietnamese food (in Mui Ne, try restaurant Lam Tong) and the coast line was explored on scooter late in the afternoon when the wind did not make an appearance. In low wind the racing discipline started already on the first day of competition. This season twintip racing was introduced as a tour discipline, and daring to introduce a new discipline also poses new challenges which I reckon the KTA crew are looking into before next season, i.e. twintips can´t race in low wind like raceboards, several riders change board sizes between races (rules state you can only have one board), and twintip riders going on large school boards (intention of traveling with less gear is gone, or riders from the local spot might be favored from having more gear around). Despite the challenges though, the twintip race class has been a success on the tour and all-in-all it´s definitely a positive effort to make competing more accessible to everyone wanting to take part.
At the 11th hour the wind gods blessed us, and the final event day was a busy one; racing and the whole freestyle single elimination for 9 female and 29 male competitors was carried out. Mui Ne showed us what it can offer when the wind is on, which also brought an intimidating shore-break. After a rough preparation where the main sponsor pulled out at the last moment, this windy day was karma rewarding the KTA crew for their effort and jovial attitude! The always exciting clash of Philippino Ken Nacor and Yo from Thailand (Narapichit Pudla) happened in the semifinal, this time Ken advancing to the finals to meet Japanese Hiro (Hironobu Nakano). At the same time I was riding my own heats ending up 2nd in freestyle; Japan took home the victory both in the female and male class as I was defeated by Aya Oshima, a good-spirited rider who has shown some nice moves on the water this season. As for off-the-water events, the end ceremony was a terrific one at Sankara, and we also enjoyed a KTA movie night with the tour stop videos made by Jim Thirion/Lines productions (available on Vimeo).
In February a big group of riders again made our way out of the Philippines, this time heading for KTA Thailand in Pranburi. We were all quite excited for the Thai food awaiting us (by the end of the week I almost had Pad Thai coming out my ears), and spent one night taking in impressions from the buzzing big-city-life in Bangkok. Next day after a bus-ride we arrived well in time for the thermal afternoon winds and a KTA freestyle clinic session by pro-rider Alberto Rondina on registration day. The spot in Pranburi is a quiet one; with most of the kitesurfing action in Thailand happening in Hua Hin (30 min north) we had the beach almost all to ourselves. Thailand is not known for strong winds, and there was no rush getting all set up in the morning as the thermal came stronger around noon. On KTA this season there is also “the oldskool project” initiated by German rider Toby Braeuer of Kiteforum, and in Thailand he impressed many spectators showing off his fascinating board-offs and tricks you do not see every day. Maybe “the oldskool project” will inspire riders to incorporate some extraordinary moves in their riding, making the sport even more appearing to an audience? Another skilled oldskool rider was entertaining everyone in Thailand with “The Jesus walk”, Turkish rider Taner Aykurt, this time taking home the male freestyle title and overall did very well in all disciplines on the tour.
Sarah Demdoum had made her to Thailand all the way from France to get the female freestyle title, among many stylish tricks she did a hooked-in Back to wrapped (I´ve watched it quite a few times afterwards on video to get my mind around it)! Another group of riders worth mentioning is the newly established Vietnamese Kinn Team, with their talented riding and smiling faces they´re a cheerful crowd that I hope will follow the whole tour next season. Also by coincidence we were 4 girls from my hometown in Norway competing in Thailand -we didn´t know each other much from before of, and by coincidence we all made plans for going to the same event, eager to exchange Norwegian snowkiting for warm waters.
Less than 3 weeks after Thailand, as part of “the Boracay family” I didn´t have to travel for the season finale; KTA Boracay in March. Due to the unstable political situation in Korea a planned final 6th tour stop in April was cancelled, and Boracay really lived up to the reputation of being one of Asias premium kitespots. This final event was also the debut for KTA joining forces with the KB4Girls foundation, with Kristin Boese being on site to hold a clinic both for girls who were competing and for those wanting to learn new tricks and enjoy the sport. Honored to be part of the KB4Girls-team as an ambassador I helped Kristin coach for the first day, and with a total of 27 girls signed up, Kristin and I had an exciting morning getting to know every participant and training together on KTA registration day. After coaching I´m now more inspired to get in touch with any rider I meet on a spot (no matter gender), and already I´m stoked for next seasons joint KTA/KB4Girls-event. With the howling winds of Boracay (sometimes over 30 knots) all the disciplines were completed within 4 days with freestyle double elimination, 12 races, the oldskool project and a speed competition. World class racer Bruno Sroka held a KTA racing clinic on registration day -maybe nervous to give his best advices away as Thai rider Yo was keeping up with him quite well for the race competition? It will be exiting to follow Yo the next seasons after seeing how close he was to Bruno already in this event, however Yo is also the Asian freestyle champion (while Bruno specializes in racing only).
Bulabog Beach on Boracay island is a great hangout also for those who enjoy watching the competition, and probably this spot was the one with most “buzz” going on around the scenes. Everyday life is usually very busy on this beach, and a kite wrapped around a palm tree is a common sight. After securing the 3rd overall spot on the tour by advancing into the semi finals in the single elimination, the extra excitement of all the familiar people giving advice got me defensive in the high winds for double elimination-so I got a lesson in always keeping faith in my own skills as I landed a kite-loop just after the siren sounded. Visiting Boracay the last month before the event was also a Nobile rider excelling on the water, Mike “the Knife” Blomvall from Sweden. I won´t forget riding upwind of him as he entered his heat performing a “dead man” – keeping the oldskool spirit alive! Mike went on to win all his heats placing him on top of the podium, and for the women it was again Japanese Aya Oshima who took the victory in front of tour regular Kathrin Borgwardt (Germany). After the prize giving I carried my trophy home thinking about how I would carry it by hand when flying back to Europe -but how Aya, Yo, Kathrin and Taner got all their trophies with them having won several trophies, I have no idea. After a delicious dinner and joyful awarding night, KTA this season was rounded up with a foam-party at one of the kite centers on Boracay. For now I believe there are many of us looking forward to the last KTA video of this season, and also the crew revealed a few plans they made for next season already. Many thanks go to the KTA organizers – they´ve done an amazing job this season, but the most important of all; no matter what´s going on behind the scenes, you always find them with a smile on their face contributing to the lively and positive atmosphere that characterize the KTA events!
Winter is coming to an end and I´ve made my way back to Europe after spending more hours on airplanes than in a car over the last months. Hopefully I´ll catch a few weekends of snowkiting on the Nobile snowkiteboard -if you snowkite on a regular board, don´t let the chance to try this one pass you by, it´s a completely different experience (as it´s actually made for snowkiting). By Easter I reckon my love for warm water has taken me on new adventures, and I hope to see you on a beach somewhere in the future – if you spot me I´ll be flying under a Nobile kite riding the best boards ever made; a big thank you to Nobile Kiteboarding for the support!