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    Martin Lark, in Cinematography,
    The last episode of the first season of 'On the Fly' series is titled 'It's On!'. It's entirely devoted to the competition side of this year's Red Bull King of the Air in Cape Town. I don't know about you but I can't wait till the next season!
    For the impatient, we have a little spoiler: from the sources close to those in the White House I know, almost for sure, that the long gone missing in Vietnam jungle father of Ruben will turn out to be no one other than Nick Jacobsen!
    Season 1 Finale! Follow Ruben's comeback to the podium at Red Bull King of the Air 2017 in Cape Town! A huge achievement after being cancer free for less than a year.
    Martin Lark, in Events,
    Titans Clash in the Finals on the Edge of the Desert - Day Four
    21st July 2017: Dakhla, Morocco
    Report: Matt Pearce / Photos: Ydwer van der Heide
    It all came down to a Friday finale in Dakhla with the strongest wind all this week, blowing right off the point as the quarter-finalists reared into action.

    The pit - in front of the Westpoint Hotel
    By the 2.30pm the wind was steady cross-shore as Mitu Monteiro took on Filippe Ferreira first, linking silky smooth turns and always picking the best waves on offer. Filippe lost valuable time when his kite inverted but managed to get back out to find one more and nail a nice wave 360. He couldn’t match Mitu though and, for him, the competition was over.

    Mitu relentless as Filippe feels the frustration of an inverted kite...
    Moroccan shredder Ismail Adarzane and Aussie ripper James Carew took to the water. Carew focused on the waves while Ismail went for powered rotations and savage assaults on the lip. Carew progressed through to the semi-finals before Paulino Pereira beat Camille Delannoy in a strapless freestyle showdown. 

    Ismail Adarzane

    Carew flew
    Next came the most hotly anticipated heat of the day between Airton Cozzolino and Keahi de Aboitiz. Airton's looked virtually unbeatable so far this season, but Keahi beat Airton in the Dakhla final last year and confidently launched a relentless assault in this quarter final, taking wave after wave before pulling a 540 shuvit out of the bag - something not yet seen in competition. 

    Keahi takes to the skies 

    Airton tried to force the win...
    Airton responded with a salvo of aggressive hacks and freestyle tricks, including the infamous 313 but, after a tense wait, Keahi got the nod and the semis began.
    James and Mitu were first out and, while James never held back, Mitu’s ceaseless barrage of smooth, calculated riding was too much for the Australian.

    Keahi turning up the heat in the semis
    Keahi and Paulino then headed out to vie for a slot in the final and Keahi struck early with a huge kite loop board off before Paulino landed an unreal wave 360... which Keahi responded to with the wave of the heat.
    Both riders wasted no time in getting points on the scoreboard. Keahi struck first with a super smooth front roll before Mitu fired into a silky smooth wave 360, a 360 board spin and a big crazy horse close in to shore. Keahi came back with a big grabbed back roll and an outrageous cutback towards the heat’s end.

    Mitu maintained momentum throughout
    It seemed impossible to call but, when the news came through that Mitu had clinched it, everyone was thrilled to see him take the event at the very spot where he won his world title back in 2008! 

    Third time's a charm! Paulino stomping his flat 3 at the third attempt in the mini final
    Paulino was happy to score another third position and young James Carew was perhaps the most stoked man on the beach having overtaken some big names on his way to fourth place!

    1st Mitu Monteiro (CV), 2nd Keahi de Aboitiz (AUS), 3rd Paulino Pereira (POR) 
    With the main event now done and a nuclear forecast for Saturday, focus shifts to the upcoming big air event. It looks like we’re in for a good’un.
    1 Mitu Monteiro (CV) 1680 points 2 Airton Cozzolino (ITA) 1680 3 Paulino Pereira (POR)  1620 4 Keahi de Aboitiz (AUS) 1400 5 Matchu Lopes  (CV) 1400 6 Camille Delannoy (FRA) 1360 7 Jan Marcos Riveras (DR) 1230 8 Ralph Boelen  (FRA) 1180 9 Sandro Pisu  (ITA) 1020 10 Gustavo Arrojo  (SPN)  1000 For regular updates, videos and galleries please follow the GKA on social media:
    Facebook Instagram YouTube Web Find the full GKA Kite-Surf World Tour 2017 event schedule here: www.global-kitesports.org
    Martin Lark, in Events,
    20th July 2017: Dakhla, Morocco
    Report: Matt Pearce / Photos: Ydwer van der Heide
    Thursday's winds were the strongest of the competition so far here in Dakhla, averaging a steady 25 knots from early morning. Including the eight riders who qualified to the main event through the trials on Wednesday, the plan was to complete rounds one, two and three and potentially the quarter finals, should conditions allow.
    The judging criteria had also changed with the combo format now being adopted in which riders would be scored on 70% wave riding and 30% strapless freestyle performance. 

    Mitu Monteiro understands the value of variety and was racking up scores for freestyle in his heat straight away
    Three riders faced off in the round one heats. Winners progressed straight into round three while second and third places would ride again in round two. Mitu Monteiro won the first heat, putting his marker down early with his unmistakable smooth, fluid waver riding and a big mega loop crazy horse. Fellow F-One team rider Filippe Ferreira also impressed from the start, hacking the shore break to pieces with seamless wave 360s and quickly linked turns, even in the smaller, slow sections.

    Filippe Ferreira kept it firing
    Matchu Lopes’ second place finish behind Moroccan rider Ismael Adarzane was unexpected and it meant he would have to do battle once again in round two, which we rolled straight into after Airton beat Sebastian Ribeiro and Hamza Finou, earning himself a break before round three.

    Ismael Adarzane
    In round two - the redemption round for some and the exit for others - local rider Mohamed Ali Beqqali won the first heat with successive, snappy hits as the waves began to build in size. Australian James Carew has been battling a fever since he arrived in Dakhla, but managed to put together a powerful wave riding performance which proved too much for Theo Demanez.
    Sebastian Ribeiro came first in the qualifiers but lost to Airton in the last heat of round one. In round two he beat Jon Modica to claim his place in round three.

    James Carew in action in round one
    Matchu Lopes managed to build on his round one performance, beating Sandro Pisu in the last second round heat with a double front roll. There’d be no rest for him though as he would go straight on to face Airton in round three!

    Mitu Monteiro
    Mitu kicked off the next round with a display that underlined his seasoned professionalism. The wind had increased but the waves were a little inconsistent at points, however the experienced Cape Verdean pieced together a near seamless heat, always managing to make his wave selection just right and then hammering quick cut backs time after time.
    Brazilian qualifier Filippe Ferreira beat fellow countryman and qualifier, Pedro Matos, who just couldn’t match his finesse in the smaller beach break conditions.
    James Carew pulled off one of the standout wave riding performances of the day, linking five turns on one wave and a nice little air off the lip to finish.
    Brazilian Sebastian Ribeiro moved on to a challenging heat against Ismail Adarzane during which a kite tangle momentarily held both competitors up, but Sebastian's surf-influenced wave riding was still the epitome of smooth. He couldn’t match Moroccan rider Adarzane though, who was landing powered rotations close into shore, denying Ribeiro a place in the fourth round.

    Paulino Pereira was on fire in today’s conditions that match those he often rides in at home in Portugal. After changing down to a smaller board midway through his heat he sealed the deal against Jan Marcos Riveras with a flat-3; the first handle-pass of the competition so far!

    Jan Marcos Riveras
    As we approached the end of round three, the decision was made not to push to the quarter finals today, so the climax was the final heat of the round and it was a clash of the titans, and so often finalists, Airton Cozzolino and Matchu Lopes.

    Matchu and Airton clashed early
    Matchu’s flowing style was evident from the start as he blended fast bottom turns with vertical cutbacks. His silky rhythm was in stark contrast to his opponent's powered, aggressive riding and Airton squeezed all he could out of every wave with a smooth wave-360, big rotations and a nice lip smack straight into a shuvit. He didn’t bring out his trademark 313 (although he did do one straight after the heat just to remind us that he still can), but he’d already done enough to take the win by that point and the heat was his.

    Airton, flying
    Matchu’s loss does nothing to overshadow their friendship however and, although they have a long running rivalry, immediately afterwards both riders spoke about how much they enjoy riding, travelling and competing against one another.
    That’s the nature of competition though and all eyes are now on tomorrow’s quarter finals when Airton will face Keahi de Aboitiz - a man who’s never lost here at an event in Dakhla!


    One of the most improved riders on tour this year, Camille Delannoy from France is also through the quarters
    The riders progressing into today’s competition are as follows:

    Mitu Monteiro (CV) V Filippe Ferreira (BR)
    James Carew (AUS) V Ismael Adarzane (MA)
    Camille Delannoy (FRA) V Paulino Pereira (PT)
    Keahi de Aboitiz (AUS) V Airton Cozzolino (CV/ITA)

    For regular updates during today’s quarter finals please follow the GKA on social media:
    Facebook Instagram YouTube Web Find the full GKA Kite-Surf World Tour 2017 event schedule here: http://global-kitesports.us
    Martin Lark, in Events,
    19th July 2017: Dakhla, Morocco
    Report: Matt Pearce / Photos: Ydwer van der Heide

    A steady wind and a growing swell greeted the GKA crew at Foum La Bouir on Wednesday morning as the riders met in the Dakhla Westpoint sports centre to be briefed by Race Director Juan Antonio Aragon. With eight places still available in the main event, the plan for Wednesday was to complete all of the qualifying heats with a single elimination round, followed by a double elimination in which the 16 riders yet to qualify would compete in four and then two man heats.
    Rather than split the judging criteria between strapless freestyle and waveriding, the decision was made to keep today’s heats 100% wave-focused and the first riders were on the water at 11.30 am.

    James Carew
    Australian James Carew, who competed here in Dakhla last year, attacked the shore break with his customary muscular riding style while Brazilian riders Filippe Ferreira and Sebastian Ribeiro looked perfectly at home in the side-shore beach break conditions, both of them stylishly executing wave-360s and driving their fins free of the lip at every opportunity. Theo Demanez, from St Martin in the Caribbean, also impressed riding with the poise and precision of someone well beyond his years (he’s only 17)!

    Sebastian Ribeiro won the trials single elimination, so he will qualify as one of the top two trials riders into the main event .
    The single eliminations also saw four female riders competing alongside the men and Sasha Gabriel and Kirsty Jones in particular held their own against a fiercely competitive field. Unfortunately, with such a high level on this year’s tour, none of the women were able to progress beyond the qualifiers, so won’t be joining us in the main event.

    Kirsty Jones 
    The real showdown of the single eliminations in the trials was a Brazilian battle between Filippe and Sebastian. When Sebastian won their heat, the feeling among many onlookers was that it could have gone either way, but it was down to Filippe to dust himself off and fight for his place in the competition and he rode like a man possessed in five closely spaced heats in the double elimination to secure his place in round one Thursday.

    Filippe and Mitu

    Mohammed Ali Beqqali
    Local rider Mohammed Ali Beqqali was also out to stake his claim on the main event and he put his local knowledge to the test as the wind built and the waves held up just that little bit longer, allowing the riders to really throw some fans off the lip.

    D'jo Silva making his way through in front of Westpoint Hotel
    Unfortunately, just before 6pm the wind dropped and, with the promise of stronger wind and a slightly bigger swell forecasted for Thursday, the decision was made to hold the competition there for today with three heats still to go that will finish off the trials.
    Those remaining heats will dictate where the last four of these eight freshly qualified riders will be ranked and therefore where they'll fit into round one of the main event, which will follow the end of the trials.
    The trials riders advancing to the main event are:
    Sebastian Ribeiro  (BRA) James Carew  (AUS) Pedro Matos  (BRA) Felipe Ferreira  (BRA) Djo Silva  (CV) Mohamed Ali Beqqali  (MOR)  Jon Modica  (USA) Theo Demanez  (St. Martin) VIDEO - Trials Action in Dakhla - GKA Kite-Surf World Tour
    Action from Wednesday's trials in Dakhla for round two of the GKA Kite-Surf World Tour. The trials format was pure wave and competition was tight for the eight remaining places in the main event, which starts Thursday, with a forecast for more wind and waves. Should be epic!
    We’ll be keeping you in the loop as we progress through the rounds tomorrow. For regular updates please follow the GKA on social media:
    Facebook Instagram YouTube Web Find the full GKA Kite-Surf World Tour 2017 event schedule here: http://global-kitesports.us
    There was also plenty of action and experience available on the beach for special local school groups to get involved and come along, showing the value that kitesurfing has on this area in Dakhla. Hopefully we'll see these riders making their way successfully through the trials in the future!


    Martin Lark, in Events,
    Dakhla Delivers Promise On Day One
    18th July 2017: Dakhla, Morocco
    Report: Matt Pearce / Photos: Ydwer van der Heide

    Riders' briefing at the new Westpoint Hotel kite center 
    32 riders signed up for the second stop on this year’s GKA Kite-Surf World Tour amidst the lush surroundings of the new Dakhla Westpoint Eco-lodge hotel on Tuesday morning.
    Round one was completed at the thrilling Tarifa Strapless Pro just two weeks ago, but the excitement for this event in Morocco has been building since before that as it's the first time the two elements of this five stop combination tour will come into play at the same event.

    New rider on tour this year, Sebastian Ribeiro from Brazil, getting warmed up after a long flight 
    Showing the vision for the future of performance wave kiting, riders will be judged on both their wave riding and strapless freestyle skills in their heats.
    This exciting new judging system has been a subject of debate among the riders who held a competitors’ meeting this afternoon to discuss how they’d like to see points allocated across the two disciplines - depending on the conditions they’ll encounter this week.
    The riders are positive that this format will reveal the most complete strapless rider on tour in 2017.

    Format development

    Shortly after the official riders' briefing, the competitors took to the water for a short warm-up in the late afternoon, making use of a small but steadily building wave that wraps round the point - right under the gaze of those enjoying the spectacle from the Dakhla Westpoint hotel’s Be Wok sushi restaurant.
    The riders also joined forces with a large group of local kids in the afternoon to carry out a beach clean along the shore at Foum Lo Bouir, where the competition will kick off tomorrow. The spirit of interaction and cooperation was in full effect with several large bags filled.

    Beach clean with rider Ralf Boelen and Theo Demanez
    Dakhla has long been supported as a venue for world class watersports by important local and national Moroccan officials and this year is no exception.
    Next came the official opening ceremony with The Wali of Dakhla, Lamine Benomar, who greeted the riders and the event organisers. After an official ‘salut’ to mark the start of the event, many of the riders returned to the water to score a quick session just before sunset.

    Official opening 
    The forecast is for solid wind for the competition period. 12 riders have prequalified for the event and four wildcards have been issued. The remaining 16 competitors will compete in trials to qualify for the remaining 8 main event places.

    Riders' briefing is Wednesday at 9am. We’ll be keeping you updated throughout the heats on social media so, for frequent news, please follow the GKA:
    Facebook Instagram YouTube Web Find the full GKA Kite-Surf World Tour 2017 event schedule here: www.global-kitesports.org

    Martin Lark, in Events,
    Fresh Faces Crowned at IKA TwinTip:Racing Europeans
    to Cap a Thrilling Competition
    Gizzeria, Italy
    16 July 2017
    A clutch of new young stars, most of them kiteboard racing novices, were crowned at the finale of the first TwinTip: Racing Europeans in southern Italy after almost a week of high-intensity action in the new discipline.
    But the competition that was marked by thrilling drama in near-perfect conditions ended with a whimper when the clockwork-like wind went missing on the final fifth day of the 2017 International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R European Championship.
    Until the last minute race officials tried to squeeze in a few more heats, but the little breeze that came remained stubbornly unstable and largely below the 10kts judged necessary for fair and exciting competition in the downwind slalom format that will be used in the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Argentina next year.

    Still, the riders who had topped the standings at the end of day four were delighted with the outcome and believed they had done more than enough to earn their crowns over the remarkable 175 short-sharp races that were run in the Open, Boys and Girls divisions.
    Croatia’s Martin Dolenc, 17, took the Open title with unmatched pace and precision that left his veteran racing rivals awed and even himself a little surprised. The teenager dominated the Open class, sitting top of the leaderboard right from the opening exchanges.
    “I’m so, so happy,” said Dolenc. “This is my first European senior title, so it’s really great to get it. To be honest I’m really surprised. I just didn’t expect to be this fast. I wasn’t really training for this before coming here, just a couple of sessions.”

    Yet in the Boys and Girls under-19 divisions made up of those who will be eligible for the YOG in Buenos Aires it was a very different story with the lead changing hands as the young riders who had little experience of TwinTip racing got to grips with the format.
    France’s Victor Bachichet, 17, grew faster and more consistent as he gained in experience and took the Boys’ title with a sparkling photo-finish win in his final elimination round on the competition’s penultimate day.
    In the process he just squeezed out the US’s Cameron Maramenides, 15, who took the second podium spot. The Frenchman praised his younger rival as a model of pacy consistency who had pushed him all the way.
    “I’m really super-happy to win this first event,” said Bachichet. “It was so cool. We’ve had good boys, good girls, and good pizza. Before I came I didn’t expect to win. I hoped to be in the top ten, but not first. It’s great experience to come here and test your level. Now I’ll definitely train for the YOG qualifiers.”

    The Girls’ under-19 European crown went to Spain’s Nina Font Castells, 15, who claimed the top spot on the leaderboard on day four after the US’s Daniela Moroz, the Formula Kite Foil world champion, had several poor races that put her down the order.
    Moroz, 16, had dominated the first three days of the Girls’ competition and looked odds on to take the title even after the introduction of jumping obstacles on the course that caused her to have to rethink her game.
    Castells, by contrast, is a freestyler with little race experience, so at least the jumps were not an alien concept. As she waded ashore on Gizzeria’s Hang Loose Beach after an abortive attempt to get some Girls’ racing away on the final day, the teenager was still having difficulty processing her victory.
    “It feels good,” she said. “But I need to relax and take it all in. I’m so stoked, but it’ll take time for me to really realise what has happened. It would be wonderful to go the Olympics and represent my country. But I’m not going to think about that. I’ll just keep doing my ‘job” and take it one step at a time.”

    The prospect of a place at the YOG had prompted 68 boys and 28 girls—out of a total of 112 riders from 21 nations—to make the journey to Italy to practice new TwinTip racing format ahead of upcoming continental Olympic qualifiers.
    The races of downwind slalom courses of five legs, with jumps depending on the conditions, were designed to make it as accessible as possible to young kiters. The eight-person heats last about three minutes and start relentlessly like clockwork every five minutes.
    But the concept of refereeing infringements—rather than the more traditional system of post-race protests adjudicated by a jury—caused some controversy as the inexperienced racers believed they should have recourse to appeal decisions.
    IKA race officials recognised that it had taken riders time to get used to the unfamiliar system and accepted that there are some areas that could be improved, particular that penalties should better fit the infringements.
    “Looking back over the whole week, where we ended up, it was really good,” said Markus Schwendtner, IKA technical director. “In the beginning it was difficult - the refereeing concept is a total game changer in sailing terms, so it was a very steep learning curve for everybody. Refereeing is a bit of revolution, but it’s the only way to deal with the large number of continuous races (175)  in which the referees made more than 300 calls.”
    Girls’ (U19) IKA Europeans top five after 5 elimination rounds (1 discard)
    1 Nina Font Castells (ESP) - 10pts
    2 Daniela Moroz (USA) - 15pts
    3 Alina Kornelli (GER) - 15pts
    4 Isotta di Domenico (ITA) - 18pts
    5 Jingle Chen (CHN) - 25pts
    Boys’ (U19) IKA Europeans top five after 5 elimination rounds (1 discard)
    1 Victor Bachichet (FRA) - 13pts
    2 Cameron Maramenides (USA) - 15pts
    3 Toni Vodisek (SLO) - 16pts
    4 Anthony Picard (FRA) - 18pts
    5 Benoit Gomez (FRA) - 21pts
    Open IKA Europeans top five after 10 elimination rounds (2 discards)
    1 Martin Dolenc (CRO) - 13pts
    2 Olly Bridge (GBR) - 19pts
    3 Florian Gruber (GER) - 27pts
    4 Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) - 37pts
    5 Atte Kappel (SWE) - 37pts
    All heat results and overall rankings are available through the LIVE scoring at twintipracing.com
    2017 IKA TwinTip: Racing Europeans - Day 5 Recap video
    Martin Lark, in Events,
    Lighter Breezes Reshuffle the Pack at
    TwinTip: Racing Europeans
    Gizzeria, Italy
    15 July 2017
    Lighter breezes that nevertheless fuelled scintillating downwind slalom racing in the kiteboard TwinTip class saw some of the leaders who had dominated their divisions over the opening days come unstuck and slip down the order.
    In particular the US’s Daniela Moroz, the 16-year-old Formula Kite Foil world champion, ceded the overall lead after several poor heats put her down the order and threatened to derail her bid for the crown in the girls’ division of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R Kitesurf Europeans in southern Italy.

    On the fourth of the five-day competition being hosted on the flat waters off Gizzeria’s Hang Loose Beach in Calabria, the French rider Victor Bachichet, 17, took an opportunity to seize the lead in the boys’ division with an especially gutsy performance in his last elimination final of the day.
    But in the Open division, Croatian rider Martin Dolenc, also 17, remained unflappable and blisteringly quick even as his closest rivals found better pace and consistency, chipping away at his overall lead.
    The penultimate day of the contest that is employing the format to be used at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Argentina next year was marked by breezes that took time to build and rarely struggled above 12kts.

    Yet the 112 riders from 21 nations—including 68 boys and 28 girls who will be eligible for the Games in Buenos Aires—were easily able to post searingly-fast times on the track of five downwind legs, completing each of the dozens of eight-person heats in a little over three minutes.
    The slightly softer airs forced race officials to leave out the jumping obstacles that had added to the already spectacular format. But the scorching mark roundings, with riders barely metres apart, led to a clutch of tangles as the pressure mounted on competitors unprepared to give any quarter with a European crown in their sights.

    Yet in the girls’ division China’s Jingle Chen nosed her way into the top five of the girls’ standings after a carefully-calculated performance that secured wins in both her day’s elimination rounds, laying to rest her forgettable foray of opening rounds when she crashed or tangled pushing too hard at the wrong times.
    “In the first three days I just crashed too many times,” said the 16-year-old who has her sights firmly on the prize of YOG qualification. “I’ve learned that I don’t need to push it to the limit in early rounds and risk not qualifying for the crucial elimination finals.”
    Twice on day four Daniela Moroz failed to reach the elimination round finals, ensuring she was knocked off her perch at the top of the leaderboard. Rival, 15-year-old Nina Font Castells (ESP) took that honour even though she, too, had a mixed day at the races.

    But Bachichet, one of the riders sporting snowboard-type goggles against the ferocious amount of spray thrown up by other competitors, held his nerve too, to go top of the boys’ standings in a nerve-jangling elimination final.
    The French teenager, who took up TwinTip racing just three months ago with YOG qualification his goal, had led the final until the first mark when Toni Vodisek (SLO) squeezed past on the inside in audacious move.

    Both tussled all the way down the course’s next four legs until Bachichet finally overhauled his 16-year-old rival in photo-finish after a drag race to the line. It earned Bachichet the boys’ top spot overall, just ahead of Cameron Maramenides (USA) and Vodisek.
    Britain’s Olly Bridge also narrowed the gap to Dolenc in the Open division, but with the Croatian commanding the top of the leaderboard since the opening round, he appear to be in pole heading into what will surely be a gripping finale.
    Girls’ IKA Europeans top five after 5 elimination rounds (1 discard)
    1 Nina Font Castells (ESP) - 10pts
    2 Daniela Moroz (USA) - 15pts
    3 Alina Kornelli (GER) - 15pts
    4 Isotta di Domenico (ITA) - 18pts
    5 Jingle Chen (CHN) - 25pts
    Boys’ IKA Europeans top five after 5 elimination rounds (1 discard)
    1 Victor Bachichet (FRA) - 13pts
    2 Cameron Maramenides (USA) - 15pts
    3 Toni Vodisek (SLO) - 16pts
    4 Anthony Picard (FRA) - 18pts
    5 Benoit Gomez (FRA) - 21pts
    Open IKA Europeans top five after 10 elimination rounds (two discards)
    1 Martin Dolenc (CRO) - 13pts
    2 Olly Bridge (GBR) - 19pts
    3 Florian Gruber (GER) - 27pts
    4 Axel Mazella (FRA) - 37pts
    5 Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) - 37pts
    All heat results and overall rankings are available through the LIVE scoring at twintipracing.com
    2017 IKA TwinTip:Racing Europeans - Day 4 Recap video
    Martin Lark, in Events,
    Controversy Over New Refereeing as Racing
    Gets Cleaner and Margins Finer
    Gizzeria, Italy
    14 July 2017
    Young kite racers and their parent-coaches appear to be struggling to get to grips with a new “referee” concept devised to cope with a huge number of short, sharp high-octane heats and the relentless pace of the TwinTip racing format.
    Organisers at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R European Championships in southern Italy have been deluged by some of the 112 riders from 21 countries demanding explanations for judging decisions on penalties for tangles or touches on obstacles to be jumped.
    Novice racers, or perhaps those more accustomed a traditional sailing process that allows them to register a written protest and present their case for redress for perceived infringements to the jury, have been non-plussed by referees’ decisions that seem to allow little room for appeal.

    But with the format to be used for the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Argentina next year that saw organisers stage 53 high-intensity downwind slalom heats on day three, each lasting a little over three minutes and starting like clockwork every 5 minutes, a similarly quick decision process had to be found.
    International judges at the five-day event enthralling spectators on Gizzeria’s Hang Loose Beach with high-speed action and gripping mark roundings accept the “referee” concept can be fine-tuned and are open to discussion to find improvements.
    But they maintain they are doing the best for the interests of all competitors and have had to make an incredible 187 referee calls in just three days of competition, a level that would be unsustainable under the traditional jury system.

    Croatia’s Martin Dolenc had little need of the referees’ decisions. The spell-bindingly quick 17-year-old held his lead at the top of the leaderboard for the third successive after a precise display that left his rivals in awe.
    His uncanny ability to position himself to cross the start line first with split-second timing allowed him to control many of his races. After seven elimination rounds Dolenc had a healthy lead over Britain’s Olly Bridge, who clawed his way back into contention when he was able to discard two poor scores.
    Bridge climbed the ladder at the expense of Germany’s Florian Gruber in third and France’s  Axel Mazella in fourth. Just a few points separate them, marking the ferocity of the battles on the flat waters in breezes that hit 17kts and proved ideal for the slalom format.

    “Martin Dolenc is just very, very fast,” said Mazella. “He usually makes a good start and gets to the first mark in front of us. From there he can control the whole field. It’s nearly impossible to get past him. But he’s been incredibly consistent too.”
    In the 28-strong girls’ division made up of those eligible from a place at the YOG in Buenos Aires, Formula Kite Foil world champion Daniela Moroz (USA) has been growing in consistency and finding her groove in the unfamiliar format and tops the standings.
    The 16-year-old kitefoil racing prodigy is a virtual novice on a TwinTip and initially struggled to jump the obstacles without hitting them and incurring penalties. But with a little more practice she got the art dialled on day three, bringing her one step closer to her goal of winning a YOG qualifying spot.

    By contrast her closest rival in second spot, Spain’s Nina Font Castells, 15, is a freestyler who has come to racing and is no stranger to jumping. Yet the TwinTip Europeans is just her second race competition, and one she is revelling in.
    “The Spanish team is working to go to the Youth Olympics,” she said. “But it’s not my main goal. I’m just having fun with my friends and and enjoying the racing. It’s fun. My main aim in the race is always to try to start first and avoid tangles.”

    As the competition progressed and riders gained experience, there were noticeably fewer of the tangles that had dogged the opening two days as racers misjudged mark roundings and collided with rivals.
    Cameron Maramenides (USA) jumped up to lead the standings in the boys’ division after the overnight leader Toni Vodisek (SLO) had a forgettable day that did not go as he had hoped.
    Girls’ IKA Europeans top five after three elimination rounds
    1 Daniela Moroz (USA) - 6pts
    2 Nina Font Castells (ESP) - 8pts
    3 Isotta di Domenico (ITA) - 16pts
    4 Alina Kornelli (GER) - 21pts
    5 Chiara Adobati (ITA) - 24pts
    Boys’ IKA Europeans top five after three elimination rounds
    1 Cameron Maramenides (USA) - 11pts
    2 Anthony Picard (FRA) - 12pts
    3 Victor Bachichet (FRA) - 12pts
    4 Lorenzo Morelli (ITA) - 16pts
    5 Toni Vodisek (SLO) - 16pts
    Open IKA Europeans top five after seven elimination rounds (two discards)
    1 Martin Dolenc (CRO) - 6pts
    2 Olly Bridge (GBR) - 13pts
    3 Florian Gruber (GER) - 15pts
    4 Axel Mazella (FRA) - 16pts
    5 Atte Kappel (SWE) - 17pts
    All heat results and overall rankings are available through the LIVE scoring at twintipracing.com
    2017 IKA TwinTip:Racing Europeans - Day 3 Recap video
    Martin Lark, in Events,
    Battles at Top of Order at TwinTip Europeans
    Tighten in Testing Conditions
    Gizzeria, Italy
    13 July 2017
    Croatian teenager Martin Dolenc cemented his position at the top of the leader board at the kite racing TwinTip European Championships in southern Italy with another strong performance.
    But Dolenc, 17, leading the Open division after a long day on the blue Mediterranean waters in perfect breezes that climbed to around 17kts, found himself pushed ever harder as rivals dialled-in their skills in the new format.

    When the thermal breeze kicked in early afternoon on day two of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R European Championships, it fuelled intense close-fought racing over a remarkable 49 short, sharp heats lasting just three minutes each.
    The format of downwind slalom racing being pioneered in preparation for the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina next year fostered a thrilling spectacle and more than a fare share of tangles as riders misjudged their close-quarters mark roundings and collided with other competitors.

    The introduction of obstacles—sausage-shaped buoys to be jumped—on the last two legs of the course later in the proceedings, further added to the drama, and tested riders more used to simply racing as fast as possible on the water’s surface.
    Racers, including 68 boys and 28 girls eligible to compete in Buenos Aires, have shown their enthusiasm for the adrenalin-fuelled TwinTip racing by flocking to Gizzeria’s Hang Loose Beach for the five days of competition.

    In all 112 racers from 21 countries—studded with a clutch of world champions and former world champions—have come to the classic Hang Loose Beach venue that is hosting a major kiting event for the sixth year in succession.
    Slovenian Toni Vodisek wrested control of the boys’ division with a solid third spot after a second elimination round. That built on his overnight second position and gave him the overall lead, leapfrogging 16-year-old Tom Bridge (GBR), a former freestyle junior world champion.
    But it was another junior freestyle champion, the Dominican Republic’s Deury Corniel, 17, who seized the win in day two’s elimination final, demonstrating his pace and power and going some way to right the wrongs of a disastrous opening day that put him well down the order.

    “The first day was a bad one in my life,” he said. “But today was amazing. This racing is really tough. You feel like your feet are breaking, but you’re prepared to do things just because you want to win. You’re mind decides what you need to do to win.”
    In the girls’ division Formula Kite Foil world champion Daniela Moroz (USA) found herself back in her customary top spot overall, but unusually she was again eased out of first place on the day by racing novice, Germany’s Alina Kornelli, who edged the day’s elimination round final in a photo-finish.
    “We’re team Germany and we were chosen because we were born in 2000 or later and would qualify for the Youth Olympics,” said Kornelli, 17. “I’d never raced before and I came to see if I liked it. It’s really fun. It’s cool. And of course it’s my ambition to be in the Olympics.”

    Dolenc may also choose to make a bid for Argentina. His pace has served him well keeping at bay Florian Gruber (GER), who sits second overall, and veteran TwinTip racer Atte Kappel (SWE) in third spot, who believed he was still feeling his way in the ultra-short format.
    “In these races the start is so important,” he said. “That’s why we’re seeing quite a few OCS penalties for riders crossing the start line early. If you’re two seconds behind at the start you just can’t make it up, as you might in longer course racing”
    Boys (U19)
    1. Toni Vodisek (SLO) - 5 points
    2. Tom Bridge (GBR) - 10 point
    3. Anthony Picard (FRA) - 10 points
    4 .Lorenzo Morelli  (ITA) - 11 points
    5. Cameron Maramenides (USA) - 14 points
    Girls (U19)
    1. Daniela Moroz (USA) - 5 points
    2. Nina Font Castells (ESP) - 5 points
    3. Claudia Leon Martinez (ESP) - 12 points
    4. Isotta Di Domenico (ITA) - 14 points
    5. Chiara Adobati (ITA) - 15 points
    1. Martin Dolenc (CRO) - 3 points
    2. Florian Gruber (GER) - 8 points
    3 .Atte Kappel (SWE) - 10 points
    4. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 11 points
    5. Theo De Ramecourt (FRA) - 14 points
    All heat results and overall rankings are available through the LIVE scoring at internationalkiteboarding.us
    2017 IKA TwinTip:Racing Europeans - Day 2 Recap video
    Martin Lark, in Cinematography,
    Today we have a short, but a really eye-catching edit from Slingshot.
    At Slingshot Kiteboarding our philosophy has always been simple; do things our way and don't follow what the other Kiteboarding and Kitesurfing brands are doing. We have come a long way from the early days, bringing innovations to kiteboarding in the forms of One-Pump, Splitstrut, The RPM, and most recently the most sought after foil products on the market.
    We have been doubted, we have been hated, but he last thing that we have been is ignored. If you are a beginner, intermediate, or advance kiteboarder we have manufactured product for you to trust, depend on and progress.
    Our latest 2018 product release is no different. If you are looking for performance in the waves and surf, the best upwind performance, wake style trickery, boosting and high jumps; we have something for every style of riding.
    Martin Lark, in Events,
    IKA TwinTip: Racing Europeans
    Marked by Drama and Upsets
    Gizzeria, Italy
    12 July 2017
    The opening exchanges of the fast-paced kiteboarding twin-tip European championships in southern Italy delivered the expected high-drama that left some of the title favourites licking their wounds as they grappled with the new format and unfamiliar equipment.
    One of the biggest surprises came when the US’s Daniela Moroz, the 16-year-old Formula KiteFoil world champion, fell rounding the final mark as she was well clear and cruising to certain victory in the girls’ final.

    The crucial mistake after she had easily won her earlier two races in the tricky, shifting thermal breeze that eventually built to 14kts, put her down to third place overall. But with four days of the five-day International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R Kitesurf European Championships to come, the teenager knows she can rectify her error.
    “I just totally messed up my gybe at that last mark,” said Moroz, ruefully. “I had to body-drag for quite a long time to get my board. But at least I was able to get places back on the reach to the finish line and got third in the end.”

    The twin-tip slalom format, the same as that to be used at the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina next year, has prompted a huge field of 112 riders from 21 countries to converge on Hang Loose Beach, Gizzeria, to hone their skills in preparing for qualification events that could secure a place in Buenos Aires.
    Fast and furious downwind races over five reaches that are wrapped up in barely three minutes require no specialist equipment beyond a twin-tip board and kites, make the competition easily accessible to the average kiteboarder.

    But the added excitement of close fought contests with heart-stopping mark roundings and finishes close the shore, make the drama on the perfect, flat Mediterranean waters bathed by reliable thermal breezes compelling viewing.
    Croatian Martin Dolenc, 17, competing in the mixed Open division in the fickle breezes that saw the wind back and veer, forcing race officials to take several breaks to reset the course, suffered none of the misfortunes that dogged some of his rivals.
    The teenager took two bullets in the two Open finals of the day, leaving him top of the leaderboard in the division courtesy of several good starts and his scorching pace on the short legs that left others in his wake.

    “I know I have really, really good speed and I made solid starts that are so important,” he said. “I was on my 18m Flysurfer [kite] which is really good and makes me quick, I think. my gybes around the mark are quite bad, so I really need to work on those.”
    With many races still to go and forecast strengthening breezes for the coming days, Germany’s Florian Gruber lies second in the Open division with a third in the first final. But in the second final a spectacular tangle on a blistering reach to the last mark that led to disqualification for France’s Axel Mazella and ended the German’s race, could have cost him dearly.

    In the end the jury gave Gruber redress that left him with a nominal third place finish, putting him just ahead overall of racing novice Kirstyn Obrien (USA) who scooped a third and a seventh spot in the two finals.
    The boys’ division is led by Britain’s Tom Bridge, the 16-year-old former junior world freestyle champion, who just pipped Slovenian Toni Vodisek and France’s Victor Bachichet, who lie second and third overall respectively.
    Boys (U19)
    1. Tom Bridge (GBR) - 1 point
    2. Toni Vodisek (SLO) - 2 points
    3. Victor Bachichet (FRA) - 3 points
    4. Anthony Picard (FRA) - 4 points
    5. Tiger Tyson (ANT) - 5 points
    Girls (U19)
    1. Poema Newland (FRA) - 1 point
    2. Nina Font Castells (ESP) - 2 points
    3. Daniela Moroz (USA) - 3 points
    4. Claudia Leon Martinez (ESP) - 4 points
    5. Chiara Adobati (ITA) - 5 points
    1. Martin Dolenc (CRO) - 2 points
    2. Florian Gruber (GER) - 6 points
    3. Kirstyn O'Brien (USA) - 10 points
    4. Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) - 12 points
    5. Stephane Ribert (FRA) - 13 points
    All heat results and overall rankings are available through the LIVE scoring at twintipracing.com
    2017 IKA TwinTip:Racing Europeans - Day 1 Recap video
    Martin Lark, in Events,
    Event Alert: Big Field Lines Up to Battle in Youth Olympics’
    Format Kiteboard Twin-Tip Races
    Gizzeria, Italy
    11 July 2017
    Olympic fever has gripped the imaginations of a huge field of riders, many of them young kite race novices, who will be tearing up the azure Mediterranean waters over the coming week.
    The Twin-Tip: Racing European Championships being staged just off southern Italy’s Hang Loose Beach at Gizzeria will witness only the second outing fast-paced slalom format to be used at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) next year in Argentina.
    Calabria’s olive-covered hills form a stunning backdrop for Hang Loose Beach that has become an annual favourite on the kite racing scene, but with kitefoil and previously course-board racing the more familiar format.

    Now with the rapidly-evolving TT:R discipline attracting 112 riders from 21 nations spanning the globe—including a large contingent from the YOG host country—Hang Loose Beach again finds itself at the pioneering forefront of the kite racing scene.
    Even though the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R Europeans is open to riders of all ages, the vast bulk of the entrants - 28 girls and 68 boys - is below 19 years of age, the qualifying age for YOG. The big turnout clearly reflects the “Games’ Effect” as many prepare to make their qualification bid for the limited spots available in Argentina.

    It will be the first time kiteboarding has graced the Olympics’ stage. In Italy, the racing in the coming days will be high-octane competition that promises a thrilling spectacle more akin to the X-Games, with short races of just three minutes in explosive heats that will play out metres from the beach.
    The competitors will be limited to one registered Twin-Tip board and four registered kites, either foil kites or Leading Edge Inflatables (LEI), for the purposes of the championship.

    An intense schedule of races run back-to-back every five minutes with heats of up to eight riders competing in elimination rounds will likely be fuelled Hang Loose Beach’s clockwork-like thermal breezes that hit 15kts to 18kts in the afternoons.
    The downwind slalom format of five short legs with reaching starts and finishes sets the stage for close, hard-fought racing. If adequate conditions prevail, the athletes may also be required to jump obstacles in the later stages of the competition, adding further to the potential for thrills and spills.


    But as a indicator of how seriously the young riders take the prospect of a chance to compete on the Olympic stage—aside from the high turnout—some of the biggest names on the senior kitefoil racing tour have made the journey to Italy.
    Without doubt the biggest name is the US’s Daniela Moroz the kitefoil prodigy who remarkably scooped the IKA Formula Kite World Championship title last year in China at just 15. Now 16, it earned her US Rolex Yachtswoman of the  Year, but it will be interesting to see if she can transform her race craft to the very different format on different equipment.
    Likewise Britain’s Guy Bridge, 17, has been clipping at the heels of his older brother Olly, 19, world-ranked number one, who is also competing and will be mixing it with France’s Axel Mazella and Theo Lhostis, and Germany’s Florian Gruber.

    Originally set up as grass-roots and youth racing program, the class philosophy is to allow all competitors to compete on "every day" kiteboarding equipment with minimum limitations.
    TwinTip Kiteboards are used by the vast majority of kiteboarders around the world and can be found on virtually every beach around the globe.
    The Slalom/Boarderceoss formats combines "first past the post" racing with spectacular jumps, the stand-out feature for kiteboarding as a discipline of sailing.
    IKA TwinTip:Racing has been selected as event for boys and girls born between 200 and 2003 to feature in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018, and promises a spectacle similar to the successful Snowboard and Ski Boardercross disciplines in the Winter Olympics.