The PKRA Mondial Du Vent event started this weekend in France with strong, variable winds that created challenging conditions as trials and round one of the men’s single elimination got underway. With a bit of carnage and some big tricks landed, this third tour stop of the Pro Kite Tour in Leucate delivered the massive wind that makes this location famous.
In 25-35 knots of wind, the trials got underway early with riders using 4-6m kites to do battle for a coveted spot in the main event. Midway through trials, the wind began to drop as big lulls between the gusts forced riders to use bigger kites, and also allowed for some more consistent landings. During the later rounds, strong wind returned, and despite some close heats, there were no major surprises. Most of the top riders moved to the main event. Noteworthy performances came from Liam Whaley from Spain, Luis Cruz from the Dominican Republic, and tour rookie Linus Erdman from Germany.
The single eliminations launched into some of the strongest winds of the day and saw winds recorded on the beach up to 45 knots. As many riders struggled in the extreme winds, it was clear that the conditions required a different approach and well thought out strategy.
“Try to do simple tricks but keep them nice and powered and don’t go into your tricks slow and tentative like you are scared or something.” commented Liam Whaley of his strategy for the day. Commenting further, “I think that this made the difference for me.”
The spectators seemed surprisingly unfazed by the conditions as they lined the edge of the beach and cheered on the competitors enthusiastically. Despite the strong offshore winds and difficult conditions, some impressive riding went down. The heat between Whaley and Cruz scored the highest for the day with solid tricks from both riders including a Hinterberger Mobe and S3 from Whaley and S-Mobe and impressive 317 from Cruz.
In what was one of the most jaw-dropping tricks executed today, Felix “Posito” Martinez went for a huge kite loop on his 4m. As the kite came through the wind, Martinez was rocketed downwind as his kite hit a gust launching him horizontally, only to land with his kite overhead and to ride away clean.
Along with the extreme action came some spectacular crashes. Former World Champion Youri Zoon was sidelined back on the beach halfway through his heat today after a particularly bad one that did not permit him to finish his heat.
Elaborating on the day’s conditions, Robinson Hilario explained, “Today the wind was crazy strong and gusty and there were a lot of really bad crashes, but the spot is good, the water is flat and warm. I went out with a 5m and it was just way too much but I made it through my heats. Tomorrow I hope that there is a little less wind, to take out a bit bigger kite would be perfect, but, whatever, you just have to go for it.”
As the afternoon progressed the wind continued to build and the decision was made to wait for lighter wind conditions before starting the first round of the women’s single eliminations. The coming days forecast is for less wind. For a complete list of current standings and daily photos, visit the PKRA website at www.prokitetour.com.