KPWT Kitesurf World Cup – St Gilles France

Leaving the sunny warm water and air of a glamorous Animal clothing photoshoot in Tarifa was hard as I knew a freezing, wet, low pressure system was moving in for the start of the KPWT World cup in St Gilles on the west coast of France.

This must have been the coldest, harshest KPWT on record as temperatures rocketed down to about 6 degrees, with 30knot howling onshore wind, giant hail showers and big swell. As the wind was only due to last 3 days the organisers had to run the Wave Masters and Freestyle in this time which was going to be tight due to the amount of competitors.

This meant we had 7am starts and 7pm finishes in Baltic conditions and for some reason it always seemed to be the women who were put on the water first!

However, it would have been wrong to complain about the cold as there were the guys from Hawaii and Dominican Republic who had never even put on a wetsuit before so I’m sure they were feeling the cold far more!

The conditions were tough so I decided to enter the freestyle as well as the wave as the wind and wave conditions were similar to a winter’s day down the Gower peninsula! I was armed with my favourite ammunition, the 5m, 7m and 9m Atom08, so wanted to test its power in these extreme conditions.

After a few tough heats I found myself in the semi final of the freestyle at 7.30am! As I was here mainly for the Wave event I didn’t want to risk injuring myself so I opted for big airs on my 7m Atom08 rather than trying crazy kite loops and unhooked moves on the 5m. I hadn’t tried the Atom08 yet in strong wind for freestyle and was AMAZED how high I went on the 7m! I even had to close my eyes on a few of the jumps as I just kept going up!

I ended up getting 4th in the freestyle using my 7m Atom08 and Delta 128cm Flexi board which I was super pleased about.

Sander Lenten and Bjorn Viane, fellow Flexifoil team riders put on an impressive, crowd pleasing show with Sander getting 5th overall and Bjorn 9th in the freestyle which was an excellent result as there was very tough competition with the Dominican and Hawaiian guys. The 5m Atom and 7m Hadlow pro were used a lot during the week!

After the freestyle they moved swiftly onto the Wave Masters which was run in strong onshore wind with a solid 2meter swell breaking far out.

My nerves were on edge as the wind was fluctuating so much from 14knots in the hail showers to 30knts, so choosing which board and kite to use for the heats was tough. I opted for power and took the 9m Atom08 in most of my heats as there was so much current that power was needed to get out the back and stay up wind in the endless walls of white water. Luckily the 9m Atom de-powers so much that I was able to hold on in the squalls yet had the power I needed to stay up wind in the competition area. I used my 5’6’’ SDF directional shaped by James Du-feu from the Gower which is an excellent all round directional.

After some tough heats against Norwegian rider Kari SCHIBEVAAG from Norway, and Scottish rider Helen Thompson,. I found myself in the final against Polish rider Ania Grzelinska.

The frozen feet and hands were worth the pain as the results were announced that I was the winner!

I’d like to thank all the guys from Flexifoil, Sander, Bjorn and Richard for helping me pump up and pack away kites in the torrential freezing rain and to Flexifoil, Animal, Maui Magic, and SDF Surfboards, for their support and giving me the best equipment and clothing there is!

Diolch Yn Fawr! Merci Beuacoup, Mucho Gracias!

3. Ainhoa GARCIA (SP) / AIRUSH

4. Kirsty Jones (Wales) FLEXIFOIL