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Slalom Competition Heats Up in Spain

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After three days of intense PKRA action, the fourth day of the Fuerteventura Kiteboarding Grand Slam in Spain saw continued strong winds and more slalom racing. With noticeably windier conditions than the prior mornings, many wondered if it would build to be a repeat of last year’s extreme racing conditions. In total, five rounds of racing were run for the day. Despite some big variations in each race, the top finishers from day one managed to maintain their positions.

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Under sunny skies, the wind had shifted more offshore than in the days prior and big holes around the inside marks made equipment selection a significant factor. Riders on directional boards had a clear advantage over those competitors on twin tips, who struggled at times with rounding the four buoys. Unable to make it upwind of the mark in the lighter wind next to the beach, many were forced to short tack.  As the riders changed directions, the fleet became congested at times offering up plenty of opportunities for position changes, and keeping the spectators on the beach in suspense of who would make it to the finish line first.

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In the women’s fleet, Annelous Lammerts took advantage of the situation by changing her strategy after the first race. By fading back and rounding the second mark in the back of the pack, she was able to point high on the second leg allowing her to bear off-wind in the lighter air, making it around the buoy, while her competitors were forced to tack. Following an afternoon lunch break, two more rounds of races were run after a new course was set. With the marks positioned more down wind, competitors on twin tips were able to hold their own against those in the fleet using directional boards.

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In men’s race seven, Ozzie Smith got off to a good start and was out in from of Julien Kerneur by a few board lengths. As Smith rounded the first mark, he bobbled a bit allowing Kerneur to take a tighter line, hitting the apex of the turn and accelerating on the inside to overtake Smith putting him out in front for a lead that he would maintain to win the race.

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Last race of the day saw a fantastic tangle as Kerneur, Smith, Paul Serin, and Jerome Cloetens were in the lead. Rounding the second mark in front, Kerneur went down and looped his 4.5m kite to recover, causing a big pileup, and resulting in a tangle with the leaders and launching Serin downwind in a dramatic crash, while the back of the pack moved into the lead.

Overall, the fourth day at Fuerteventura proved to be an exhilarating day of racing, full of interesting challenges and new variables for every rider. The variety of equipment used and courses sailed allowed an abundance of movement throughout each race, offering tons of action and excitement for the riders as well as for the enthusiastic crowds on the beach. The slalom action will continue tomorrow after the start of the freestyle double elimination.  To view current standings or catch live action coverage, visit the PKRA website.

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