The KTA Asian Championship season has blasted off with an incredible week of kiteboard action from the beautiful Indonesian island of Bintan. Located South East of Singapore Bintan as we now all know has been one of Asia’s best kept kiteboarding secrets, one that surprised every rider by producing a week of near perfect wind conditions from a country that everyone had cast doubts on as being not likely to deliver good results.
Regardless of all the pre-event concerns however clearly the riders had faith and the first event of the season broke all KTA entry records with 123 competition entries for freestyle and racing with the later offer three class divisions – RB, TT and the new Weekend Warrior Fun Race class. In addition to this the Indonesia also played host to the launch of the KTA’s new training iniatives the KTA Kite Kids programme that saw 20 local youngsters take the opportunity to learn to power kite and take their first steps perhaps towards a future kiteboarding lifestyle.
The event was fully supported from the word go by the local government department the Bintan Regency who were the title sponsor in partnership with the Agro Beach Resort our host location and base for the week. It was from the Agro beach front that all the action would unfold on either its mirror flat reefed lagoon or as later wind shifts would dictate, from the open water beyond the reef that benefit from the Venturi wind effects from the islands that form the sea board backdrop to this stunning location.
Local support for the KTA’s first appearance in this part of Asia was further endorsed by the full support of the Indonesian Sailing Federation the PORLASI who sent local race officials to help in the running of the event. It was great to see so many partnerships working behind the scenes bring all the aspects together that made this event so successful and enable us to run the additional elements for the local community – the KTA Kite Kids, the Weekend Warriors Fun Race and finally with the support of the IKA local Riders Grants to help 11 Indonesian riders enter the mail event.
Finally though things were underway with a breakfast style Opening ceremony and Jong race -Jong’s are a traditional Indonesia sail boat that are raced as scale models in the open water . They formed quite a sight as they mingled with the kiteboarders also up and out there early to showcase the sport to the gathered government officials and crowds. It was ‘past meets the present’ on the land too as the traditional Indonesian musicians and dancers performed to greet the KTA and all the riders to Bintan. Carrying on in this vein the Regent Mr Ansar Ahmad rounded off his formal welcoming speech by strapping on a waist harness and launching a kite for what turn out to be the first time he had ever flown one. Things were always safe of course in hands of KTA Open Champion and KTA Kite Kids instructor Kathrin Borgwardt, but never the less it was clear the Indonesia kite tradition was in the blood.
The competition proper began the next day with a full programme of course racing that gave the RB racers and the TT class a full day of what would by the time the Weekend Warriors joined them by a 50 race week in total between them all. This season for the first time see the KTA Asian continental tour fully sanctioned as an ISAF world ranking series and it was great for the KTA competition team to be joined by ISAF International Race Officer Simon James and International Judge Prasart Sribhadung to help us step up the game and ensure that the riders who had traveled from far and wide for this event got the very best out on the water. It was pretty safe to say that by the end of the day everyone was more than stoked.
Leading riders at this early stage for the women was again Kathrin Borgwardt in the RB class who led the way from Liezl Tio, Fawn Benyapa Jantawan and Aya Oshima, with the TT class lead being held by Rebecka Maudal from Dina Muldasheva, Bengul Aykurt and Anny Barlow. For the guys the current reigning Asian champion Yo Narapichit Pudla was making it clear he meant business and if anyone wants his title they are going to need to work very hard to take it, though first time visitor to the KTA Denmark’s James Joyce and KTA regular Tanner Aykurt were very much up for that challenge. In the men’s TT a big impact was being made by Atte Kapple not only because he was making TT champion Jay Ortis and fellow Philippino Doque De los Santos fight him all the way, but also because he was riding in the RB class also, meaning he never left the water, except to change the board for the right one for the class he was in.
Day two of competition was again an early start as KTA Competition Director Stephan Hertig sort to take full advantage of the beach front flat water heaven to run the first heats of the freestyle single eliminator. Basically the tidal patterns for the week meant that freestyle would lead things out most days while the water was high enough in the lagoon to be followed by the racing outside the reef in the afternoons and with the consistent day long wind that held up around the 20kt mark this should have been perfect. However, the wind direction did not quite play ball and it soon became apparent that without the usual prevailing cross-shore wind that the location expects this time of the year that even the freestyle would need to move outside the reef. So the decision was made early and the team efficiently and quickly relocated to judge tower two on the reef. What a good call that was and the riders blasted their way through the singles, fully powered up all the way.
It was soon clear that there had been a leap in the level of many of the freestyle riders over the closed season and with the girls fielding almost as many riders as the guys KTA freestyle is looking very healthy indeed. As well as changes in the racing side of things KTA freestyle is also looking to the future and has taken on the new PKRA scoring system that limits the number of jumps from each rider to focus on the quality rather than quantity of moves.
At the end of the single eliminator the top positions were as follows:
Men – Long Nguyen Duc, Yo Narapichit Pudla and Reynard Along Gajisan
Women – Kristiin Oja, Victoria Soloveykina and Ali Dudfield
The racers again also in action on day two with a further 6 races fired off to end the day’s proceedings. Then evening then settled into buffet dinner by the Agro Resort pool with big screen open air KTA movie night that featured the full TV show edit of KTA 11/12 season that is currently doing the rounds on TV channels across Europe and Asia with BBC Worldwide and the Outdoor Channel.
The following day the action continued out on the reef tower with the freestyle riders once again enjoying strong winds. The double eliminators of course always offer the opportunity for good drama and potential comebacks and the crowds were not disappointed as the KTA’s youngest rider Christian Tio fired his way through two heats beating riders twice his age only to be halted at a later stage. Turkish riders Tanner Aykurt and Kerem Balik along with Frenchman Stephane Decenciere were also back in the mix and riding hard. On the girls side of things Asian Champ Aya Oshima was trying to fight her way back, moving past visiting UK riders Polly Crathorne and Sukie Robertson but not quite the end able to unseat the top three. The finals though were taken to the wire with the first super final for the season as Kristin and Victoria fighting it out a further two times in a battle that would see Victoria final turn the tables and take the top slot.
For men the winners place on the podium stayed firmly with Vietnam’s Long showing that all his hard in the close season had paid off. He is certainly going to be someone to watch as the season unfolds and we all look forward to the head to heads to come when the unfortunately AWOL Asian Men’s Champ Ken Nacor returns for round two.
At this stage of the event it was also the turn of the Weekend Warriors to show what they were made of as they joined the TT fleet in what for many was their first racing experience. With the addition of the 29 Weekend Warriors the TT Class looked awesome as it tracked back in towards the reef and the upwind mark. Running off of a staggered start with the men’s TT leading out for the first one followed women and the Warriors who combined for start two, as you can imagine the pack was quite a sight.
It was a long day on the water but the day/night still had plenty to offer for everyone as the Bintan Regency invited the KTA to join them at the 2013 Bintan Cultural festival, something that gave many of the KTA team and riders the chance to dress up (never something you have to ask twice of course) in traditional Indonesian costume. Everyone then joined the hundreds of locals to savor the delights of the Bintan street food and market stalls and be entertained by dancers and players from across the various regions of the country. Set to the backdrop of what looked to us like an Arabian style palace this was a very different KTA night indeed!
The final day of this cracking first round dawned with white caps already settling in to signify another solid day on the water lay ahead. With the freestyle now done and dusted it was going to be a full on race day with the RB Class leading off and looking to lay down 6 races to give team a good return for the event. The running order was as follows -3 men/women RB class back to back, then 3 men’s TT and 3 women’s TT/Weekend Warriors alternate, with the RB fleet back out to finish things with a final 3 back to back races.
Key battles were once again being played out though it was fair to say that Yo in the men’s and Kathrin for the women’s RB along with Rebecka and Atte in the TT remained dominate throughout.
All week the weather had been playing ball, with blue skies to join the wind which meant we could stay with the outdoor theme for the awards and closing party. So with the riders gathered, the speeches of thanks given and beach BBQ devoured the moment that defines any competition got under away and the champions of KTA Indonesia were crowned. In total the riders were enjoying a US$ 15,000 prize package between them courtesy of our title brand sponsor Cabrinha and it was all smiles as awards were hosted aloft in celebration.
Thank you also to our other tour sponsors Maelstorm, Kite Zone and Blue Orange Ville who’s combined support is also critical for the KTA session.
TOP 3 for the KTA Indonesia
Freestyle MenLong Nguyen Duc (VTN) Tanner Ayurt (TUR) Yo Narapichit Pudla (THA)
Freestyle WomenVictoria Soloveykina (RUS) Kristin Oja (EST) Ali Dudfield (AUS)
RB Class WomenKathrin Borgwardt (GER) Liezl Tio (PHI) Aya Oshima (JPN)
RB Class MenYo Narapichit Pudla (THA) James Joyce (DEN) Taner Aykurt (TUR)
TT Class WomenRebecka Maudal (NOR) Dina Muldasheva (RUS) Bengul Aykurt (TUR)
TT Class MenAtte Kappel (SWE)
Doque De Los Santos (PHI) Kerem Balik (TUR)
Weekend WarriorsMarcel Bruelisauer Fendi Ahmad Rocco Fruggi
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