podium_20men
With no more wind on the final day of the 2016 IKA Kiteboarding Grand Slam Leucate, Mario, Pastor, Zoon and Spiessberger ended up equal first in the men’s draw, whilst in the women’s draw, Kajiya, Valesa, Novotna, Rosa, Whitely and Van Westerop all took to the podium for a tied first place.

podium_20women

Over the last week Mondial Du Vent (festival of the wind) played host to the French stop of the Kiteboarding World Championships. Mondial Du Vent has been one of the world’s longest running kiteboarding competitions, a visit to the event confirms this with its amazing atmosphere and wind loving vibe.

This years event wasn’t typical of prevailing French conditions, unfortunately mother nature dealt everyone a harsh deal with only one and a half contestable days the entire contest week. Staff and riders worked hard to complete as much as they could in the time, but unfortunately the event wasn’t completed.  As a result the final standings saw four men tied equal first and six women tied equal first. It will be interesting to see how this will affect the results of events to come as now the gap between overall points will narrow.

Day two and day three provided all the action. Day two started with a slouch, the forecast called for morning wind but the reality was an unusually still morning, riders were at the beach at nine o’clock regardless and ready for action. By eleven the wind had come up and the trials began.

Once the trials were over the main event started at roughly two o’clock in unusual Mondial Du Vent conditions. It’s rare to have such light wind at the event with most riders expecting to be overpowered on their smallest kites. The wind didn’t pick up at all and the conditions were mainly for 13-14m kites for the first heat of the main event in which Youri Zoon came through with the win. The following heat was quickly abandoned due to too little wind and was resumed the following day.

Day three kicked off with a false start, both riders and crew were down the beach before sunrise only to find the conditions weren’t as per the forecast. There was practically no wind, although locals reassured everyone it would pick up some still remained skeptic. By ten o’clock however the wind did pick up and things got underway at roughly ten forty five. There was lots of ground to cover, with a pretty terrible looking forecast the plan was to get as much finished as possible. Riders and crew spent until eight o’clock on the beach in one of the longest days on tour record!

Round one saw the first stacked heat of the day with the returning Whaley up against Neto and Spiessberger. Any doubts about Whaley’s fitness were quickly put aside as Whaley dealt out a technically solid heat with one of the largest Crowmobe 540s of the day, sending him straight to the third round. On the Women’s side newcomer and local rider Valesa had a difficult round one match up with Novotna. Valesa was going big and riding powered however Novotna had the experience in this situation and took her out with a nice Heart Attack to end the heat.

pauline_valesa

Round two saw the Garat brothers and local Frenchman winning both of their heats respectively. First it was Seb Garat coming through with a consistent heat to take out Van De Kop and a couple of heats later it was be Val Garat using the very same tactic to take out Corniel. It’s great to see two brothers competing at such a high level and sharing the same passion. Tour rookie Coccoluto had a great run through the trials and was only narrowly defeated in his round two match up against veteran Spiessberger. No doubt we will see more of him in the future. For the women, it was Coccolutos girlfriend, Bagnoli narrowly getting the upper hand on Taabbel. Whilst Vieira only just took out the local Jaubert with a nice 313 on the buzzer. Round Three saw some equally tight matchups! Zoon took out Cloetens whilst Pastor had one of the heats of the day against Seb Garat with one of the best KGB5s and Double Heart Attacks seen this comp so far. Hadlow had a rough heat loosing against Tonijuan, whilst Mario only narrowly defeated Spiessberger by less than a single point.

youri_zoon
For the Women’s round three we saw what could be argued as the best heat of the competition between Kajiya and Vieira. Both girls were giving it everything they had, having almost the exact same tricks landing big Front Mobes and Backmobes to finish the heat. Kajiya eventually taking out Vieira. Round four saw Cloetens, Smith, Hadlow and Spiessberger all progress respectively in what were probably the most challenging conditions of the event. Very shifty winds and a large chop made it a struggle for all and depending on who landed their tricks most of these heats could have gone either way. Round four for the women was the last round for the day and the last chance to progress into the finals. Local French rider Valesa rode a solid heat against Bagnoli, using her power to her advantage and deservedly earning a spot in the finals. Vieira once again had what could be considered the hardest heat with both herself and Whitely fighting for a place. Both girls went big having what was considered the second best heat of the day (after Vieiras previous match up against Kajiya). It would be Whitely who would narrowly tip out Vieira in the end though taking her spot in the finals.

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Round five is the super round where three men compete in each heat for only one spot into the final rounds. To say the heats in this round were stacked would be an understatement! In the first heat it was Zoon vs Martinez and Smith, Zoon however totally crushed this heat, landing huge backside and frontside 317s showing that he would have been hard to beat in the finals. Pastor had a similar heat to Zoon, coming calm and collected against both Serin and Cloetens. Pastor landed a Backside 315 and a KGB 540 to seal his ticket forwards. Heat three saw Spiessberger have a great heat over Tonijuan and Racca. Usually Spiessberger doesn’t have his best results here in France so it no doubt meant a lot to him to see his way into the finals here this time.

stefan_spiessberger

The fourth heat was by far the most interesting however and no doubt the most stacked. Three world champs all in one heat (Whaley, Mario and Hadlow) all pushing it as hard as they could to get to the finals. The draw ended up like this due to Hadlows losses early on in the event with Whaleys absence from the first event of the year compounding things. It seemed as though Hadlow never really got off to the solid start in the heat, stringing together some good tricks but gradually falling behind both Whaley and Mario throughout the heat. It was Whaley who came out strongest with a massive grabbed Front Blind Mobe to start the heat really impressing the judges.  Whaleys consistency throughout the heat made it seem like he would be the logical one to advance. Mario didn’t get off to the best start but he was still in the game, landing some solid tricks but not the kind of stuff he is usually known for. Mario and Whaley were super tight right up until the last seconds of the heat when Mario produced a Massive Nose Grabbed Backmobe 540 which narrowly put him in front of Whaley sending him off to the finals!

The wind backed off and no more heats could be completed, as a result Mario, Pastor, Zoon and Spiessberger ended up equal first in the mens draw, whilst in the Womens draw, Kajiya, Valesa, Novotna, Rosa, Whitely and Van Westerop would all take to the podium for a tied first place.

This obviously isn’t an ideal situation for the riders, but sometimes these things cannot be helped. It will be interesting to see how this affects the rankings and mindset of the riders for the following events to come.

Results 2016 Leucate Kiteboarding Grand Slam:

Men:

1.            Zoon (NED, Slingshot)

               Pastor (ESP, Airush)

               Spiessberger (AUT, North)

               Mario (BRA, Slingshot)

5.           Whaley (ESP, Cabrinha)

               Tonijuan (ESP, F-One)

               Serin (FRA, Naish)

               Martinez (DOM, Da Silva)

Women:

1.           van Westerop (ARU, -)

               Kajiya (BRA, Airush)

               Novotna (CZE, North)

               Whiteley (GBR, Best)

               Rosa (BRA, Cabrinha)

               Valesa (FRA, F-One)

7.           Vieira (BRA, Gin)

               Bagnoli (ITA, North)

IKA Kiteboarding World Championships Overall standings after two rounds:

Men:

1.           Carlos Mario (BRA, Slingshot)           2000 pts

2.           Youri Zoon (NED, Slingshot)             1915 pts

3.           Alex Pastor (ESP, Airush)                   1855 pts

4.           Stefan Spiessberger (AUT, North)    1615 pts

5.           David Tonijuan (ESP, F-One)            1510 pts

               Paul Serin (FRA, Naish)                     1510 pts

Women:

1.           Bruna Kajiya (BRA, Airush)               1915 pts

2.           Annabel van Westerop (ARU, -)       1855 pts

3.           Paula Novotna (CZE, North)              1755 pts

4.           Hannah Whiteley (GBR, Best)          1675 pts

5.           Estefania Rosa (BRA, Cabrinha)      1615 pts

               Pauline Valesa (FRA, F-One)            1615 pts

Stay tuned for the third round of the 2016 IKA Kiteboarding World Championships is scheduled to be held in Dakhla, Morocco, from 17 to 23 of June, 2016.

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