World’s leading kiteboard racers battle to cement their positions on day two of competition in Hainan, China.
Boao, Hainan – In tight, fiercely competitive racing that characterised day two of the kiteboard racing world championships in China, the top riders fought hard to establish their position in the 160-strong fleet.
But once again the current world champions Erika Heineken (USA) and brother, Johnny, were too strong and dominated their respective fleets with flawless performances that saw them win each of their four races by wide margins.
Only Florian Gruber (GER), competing in another of the three 40-strong men’s qualifying fleets from Johnny Heineken, could match the American’s record. He scored four bullets to add to his perfect tally from day one, putting him in a tie with Heineken in top spot.
“I’m in a hard group of riders, so I’m really pleased,” said Gruber. “Bryan Lake (USA) is faster on the upwind legs, for instance, but I point higher. It’s just a different approach and it works for me. The conditions are similar to the first day and you catch some waves out on the reef.”
Riders from more than 40 countries have gathered to battle for the men’s and women’s titles in five days of competition at the International Kiteboard Association course racing world championships being staged in China for the first time.
The second day of the event, being locally managed by Kite Tour Asia (KTA) and the Hainan resort of King Bay, experienced exhilarating conditions that matched the opening round as winds increased from 15kts to 21kts as the day progressed.
Some riders who made slow starts on the opening day improved their showing, having grown more accustomed to the wind conditions that prompted most competitors, including many of the women, to put up their 10m kites.
Rolf van der Vlugt (NED) came out of the gate strong and clinched several second place finishes in his races to improve his ranking, which should see him placed among the top racers when the men’s fleets are graded into gold, silver and bronze medal fleets for the third day of competition.
“I’m happy with my finishes,” said van der Vlugt. “To be honest I felt much different today. I was in a fleet with all the top guys on day one. That was holding me back a little bit. Today I got tuned into the conditions. I’m still trying to find how fast I can go on flat water.”
Jhon Mora (CAY) continued the strong streak he displayed on day one, scoring three bullets on day two, to take him to third in the standings, with Wilson Veloso (BRA) fourth, and number one seed Riccardo Leccese(ITA) fifth.
“I’ve had two good days on my 10m kite,” said Leccese. “So far the conditions have been epic. We’re really smoking the fins, that’s to say, going up wind as fast as possible. I think today I’m in the hardest group, so I’m pretty happy with the results.”
In the women’s fleet Steph Bridge (GBR) rode four strong races. But with Erika Heineken in such imperious form she had to settle for second places in each, with sixteen-year-old Elena Kalinina (RUS) ending third in the rankings and Katja Roose (NED) fourth.
“I’ve been pretty steady in or around fourth place,” said Roose, delighted with the conditions and the track. “The conditions aren’t difficult. The wind is strong, but the water’s flat. It’s superfast and it’s good racing. But Erika Heineken is just so quick I’m always looking at her back. These are her conditions. She’s used to strong winds and small kites. We rarely experience that in Europe.”
The video highlights from the second racing day can be found on Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/80034434
And on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/p9XpxTGmz6E