Words and Photos by KITESMURF:
The Binhai Weifang China 3rd International Kitesurfing Tournament was held in China’s Shandong province on Saturday. News from China is sometimes hard to come by, firsthand news on Chinese Kitesurfing takes some serious travel time, kooky crunchy food, and an immense amount of brain power used on translation.
I was lucky enough to be invited to photograph this tournament which included over thirty riders from about fifteen different countries. This was the 3rd year for the Binhai Invitational, taking place on an economic development zone known as “Happy Sea Base.”
The abundant amount of time on land I spent with this group of kitesurfers was a pleasure. We spent so much time off the water partly due to lack of wind, but also because of the close quarters and schedule one must keep while traveling in China. The People’s Republic is like nowhere else on earth and the people of this land can in a single moment amaze and confuse your mind in ways I could never imagine.
The first day an insanely involved opening ceremony was held just for the kitesurfing tournament. Think Olympic-sized prestigious private-school pageant on steroids full of color and honor, then multiply that times thrity thousand hundred million and you get the Binhai Weifang China 3rd International Kitesurfing Invitational opening ceremony!
Seas of school children singing, boys leaping with flags, women dancing with a long flaring multi colored dresses, lots of sparkles, fireworks, divine insanity, plus a Chinese pop star. After the celebrations and many speeches including one by yours truly translated into Chinese for thousands of spectators, the competitive events were to being. This required wind, which was seriously lacking, inside this dystopian Mad Max world they called “the beach.”
The first day brought zero wind but lots of chill time with the riders. On the second day there was still no wind but we made a soccer ball of out old carpet and tape, rubber bands, and kite innards. Third day no wind so everyone went wake boarding, then late in the afternoon a gentle but pleasing breeze kicked up allowing for the 1,000m Course Racing!
Narapichit Pudla (Yo) of Thailand was the proud winner taking first place in the race. An account in his own words of his win is below:
I felt lucky that the wind was picking up to 10-12 knots and I saw Torrin Bright of New Zealand had prepared his Ozone Edge 15m and was headed out on his race board. I also pumped my Ozone Edge 15m and headed for the water to warm up and check the conditions. It took a long time for the race director to prepare the course and the day was coming to a close. The event committee decided there was only time to have one race, including male and female riders on all board types. It was a very short race and I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes if I wanted to win. I was the first racer to go out and test the course, which was perfect for my kite set-up and board running so smoothly on the triangle course. My start was perfect and I was the leader to the finish! Torrin Bright was just behind me to finish in second place. Then Antoine Auriol from France coming in third. Torrin and I kited back to the beach and were so happy with our results. We packed up our kites and had a great interview with China TV.
1. Narapichit “Yo” Pudla (Thailand)
2. Torrin Bright (New Zealand)
3. Antoine Auriol (France)
4. Eli Zarka (Israel)
5. Ken Nacor (Philippines)