Kiteboard Tour Asia opens the 2012 Tour with successful Round One in the Philippines

16 January, 2012

Photo by Alexandru Baranescu.

Kiteboard Tour Asia (KTA) Philippines, powered by AQUA Boracay, held it’s third successful year from January 10 to 15. KTA, Asia’s first-ever sanctioned international kiteboard competition organization kicked off the 2012 kiteboard season with a bigger and better Asian tour on the expansive 100-metre beachfront of AQUA Boracay – a brand new upscale residential resort development along the prime section of Bulabog Beach, the scene of two previous years of KTA competitions, with its global reputation for top class wind and kiting conditions.

The country’s leading travel destination, Boracay has received numerous awards, including Second Best Beach Destination in the World in TripAdvisor’s ‘Travelers’ Choice 2011’ awards, and fourth in the Top 10 Islands in the World list in travel & Leisure Magazine’s ‘World’s Best Awards 2011’. It is no wonder that each year KTA Philippines attracts increasing numbers of kiteboard champions, competitors, and enthusiasts, with an unprecedented record-breaking registration this year of 79 riders, with 62 racers and 22 men along with 16 women for freestyle, all in top form and ready to go.

Building on the success of its first two events, KTA collaborated with its new Presenting Sponsor AQUA Boracay, who pulled out all the stops to provide a world-class venue and a number of memorable happenings in and around Boracay Island’s top spots, making each participant’s Boracay experience absolutely unforgettable.

Set on the eastern side of Boracay, Bulabog Beach provides ideal kiteboard conditions during the winter monsoon months with the anticipated wind speeds of between 25 to 30 knots, showing up as planned making for perfect as a competition each day.

Here is a rundown of the week’s highlights: Opening Party (January 10) and Registration Day (January 11) – KTA Philippines welcomed this year’s delegates with a welcome party at EPIC BORACAY with competitors from across the globe converging at Boracay’s epicenter for world-class dining, drinking and dancing. The crowd of kite champions and enthusiasts, supporters and island residents, enjoyed an evening of revelry, with great food and flowing booze, and live tribal performances by Kadangyan. Guests were initiated into Boracay’s thriving night scene, known as much as a party destination by night, as it is a beach holiday haven by day, and the evening proved to be a precursor to the exhilarating journey in the coming days. Thankfully, day two was registration day, which saw a record-breaking registration of 79 riders. With the promise of good winds, competitors were out-of-sight by nightfall, bracing themselves for a hell of a ride, KTA-style!

Competition Day One: Freestyle Single Eliminations (January 12). Starting the day with a Skippers meeting, spirits soared in equal amounts of excitement and trepidation as the winds raged over 25 knots. With the air dense with electrifying energy, KTA Competition Director and KTA Philippines organizer, Stephan Hertig announced the day’s schedules and participants geared-up for the day’s battles on the warm waters. By 10AM, the two mile-long stretch of Bulabog Beach was filled with riders and spectators, photographers and tourists, all eagerly anticipating the spectacle of the incredible sport of kite boarding. Converging at AQUA Boracay the crowds cheered as the judges, namely Sedat Celenk, Mars Gersbach, and William Bourget took their places at the Judge’s “tower of power”. Joining Hertig was KTA Tour Director Willy Kerr, who riled up the riders as the competitions began. Alternating the Freestyle competitions for the women’s and the men’s categories until sunset, the exhilarating day took “freestyle” to immense heights, pushing each competitor to their limits.

Competition Day Two: Freestyle Double Eliminations and Course Racing (January 13). As expected, the second day of competitions proved to be wild and sexy from the word go! Starting off with a full morning of Men’s and Women’s Freestyle Double Eliminations, where competitors showed-off their stunning “big air” stunts, each one out to put on their best show, with what seemed to spectators as an intense pageant of sportsmanly/womanly competition in form, unbelievable tricks and amazing combinations of tricks. Without any breaks, Course Racing commenced at 1PM with men racing with women Twin Tip (TT) and Race Board categories. With a wind range of 20 to 25 knots, race speeds were at a neck-breaking 60 to 70 kilometers per hour. After a quick rain shower cooled the competitors, the Freestyle Doubles continued, fiercer than ever, with ridiculous air times, passes and kite loops on show.

By day’s end, protest hearings gave competitors a chance to redress and settle the day’s race disputes and see who came out on top. A great reward for a great day of competitions was a sumptuous dinner at DOS MESTIZOS Spanish Restaurant & Bar, which served their popular Tapas Dinner Buffet.

Competition Day Three: Freestyle Double Eliminations & Finals and Course Racing (January 14). As forecasted, winds were not as strong as the previous days. Freestyle Double Eliminations were sounded off at 10:30AM and went all the way to the finals at 2PM, with champions Victoria Soloveykina (Russia) winning in the women’s category and Andrey Salnik (Ukraine) winning in the men’s category, after two heats of the finals, defeating his top contender with his powered kite loop tricks as well as mobe and slim 5.

The highlight of the day’s Freestyle competitions was seeing local 14-year-old rider Stefano Ganugi, fighting his way through the Doubles with five wins in a row, all the way to 6th place where Taner Aykurt stopped him. Stronger than the prevailing winds, Ganugi totally blew everyone away, and gave the crowd a glimpse of the Boracay champ of the future with his great skill and impressive new tricks such as the kite loop slim, kite loop mobe, shifty grab 313, and kite loop 3! By 2:30PM, the competitions switched to Course Racing, with enough wind for both Twin Tip (TT) and Race Board (RB) racing. For the second set of races, the winds determined that it was time to switch back to RB, with two more successful races that ended another incredible day at 4PM.

Last Day Of Competitions: A Race To The Finish With Course Racing, Award Ceremonies And After Party (January 15). With winds dropping to 12 knots, the Skippers meeting pronounced all racing, starting off with Twin Tip (TT) back-to-back with Race Board (RB) racing. Sounding off the horn at 10AM, two successful races of TT had the adrenaline pumping, with kiteboarders racing not only against each other, but challenging the wind to pick up and sustain the unabated race momentum. When the wind dropped, one good RB race ensued until the wind decided to call it a day for everyone at 3PM.

The evening’s celebrations were sponsored by CABRINHA, starting off with the Cabrinha Awards Hog Roast and Ice Luge ceremonies at THE SAND BAR BORACAY. The festive gala awards were set at the beachfront, with a chic beach lounge of low tables and leather sofas, for a relaxed kitesurfer-style ambience, under a huge canopy. With not one, but two pigs courtesy of Cabrinha, and a feast fit for champions, the awarding ceremonies were hosted by KTA Tour Director and Co-owner Willy Kerr and local kiteboarder Paula Rosales. Top prizes for first, second, and third placers with 1st place – CABRINHA kites, 2nd – UNDERGROUND boards, and 3rd MAELSTORM goodies, sunglasses and impact vests. Stefano Ganugi received a special award as part of the KTA’s new prize on this year’s tour at each stop to encourage the most up and coming local rider that impressed the judges most throughout the event. This award was supported by Sprockett Boards.

Speaking about the event, Hertig said, “This was the best event in Boracay we had so far, with prefect conditions, good winds, flat water and the perfect spot along AQUA Boracay’s beachfront, which we’ll have to top again next year! Bulabog Beach and Boracay Island is definitely one of the best locations in Asia for a competition, and we look forward to seeing AQUA Boracay’s completion by next year. Surely, this tropical lifestyle development will be even more stunning in 2013 and in the next five years of KTA Philippines, which they have committed to support.”

When asked to compare this year’s event with the previous years, Hertig observes, “This year was bigger, better and higher, with more competitors, a higher level of riding, and a more relaxed week with less partying and more time to relax for the riders who focused on the competitions more intensely than in the past. Being the local organizer and competition director, all the hard work paid off upon seeing all those smiles on the riders faces.” Hertig thanked all the volunteers for their great job on the flags, the timekeeper, Jim “Frenchie” Thirion for his daily video coverage, Alexandru Baranescu for the incredible photographs, local correspondent Freida Dario for the daily reportage, “and Willy for doing all the things that I had no time to do!”

The winners were as follows: TT Men’s Course Race: (1st) Kerem Bailk (Turkey), (2nd) Doque de los Santos (Philippines), (3rd) Ryan Cahilig (Philippines), (4th) Bobo Corniel (Dominican Republic), (5th) Anthony Martinez (Philippines), and (6th) Stefano Ganugi (Philippines). TT Women’s Course Race: (1st) Michalina Laskowska (Poland), (2nd) Rebecka Maudal (Norway), (3rd) Dina Muldasheva (Russia), (4th) Madli Olem (Estonia), (5th) Susan Kay (New Zealand), and (6th) Berna Ozturk (Turkey). RB Men’s Course Race: (1st) Salih Cakir (Turkey), (2nd) Ken Nacor (Philippines), (3rd) Taner Aykurt (Turkey), (4th) Sugiraha Kazumasa (Japan), (5th) Keewan Kwon (Korea), and (6th) Ejder Ginyol (Turkey). RB Women’s Course Race: (1st) Kathrin Bogwardt (Germany), (2nd) Aya Oshima (Japan), (3rd) Rahel Holliger (Switzerland), (4th) Astrid Berz (Switzerland), (5th) Bilge Ozturk (Turkey), and (6th) Paochu Tienye (China).

Next up in the competition tour, the C2Sky Freestyle Raid, KTA Vietnam from February 15 to 19.

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