The third day of the 2017 Extreme San Diego Kiteboarding Invitational hosted by San Diego Extreme Sailing and the Extreme Sailing Series showed promising conditions and riders adjusted accordingly by choosing smaller 13 meter kites. As we lined up next to the starting line buoy in the chase boat, we could see the advancing wind line headed right for the riders. By the time the gun had gone off and the racers sprinted across the line, you could see the competitors bracing for the gust to hit their kites and propel them into a higher gear.

By the end of the first three morning races, Axel Mazella had won the first two of the three races with Olly Bridge hot on his heels finishing in a close second. The third and final race of the morning had many of the riders faced with the ugly position of being totally overpowered, but somehow the ever clever Johnny Heineken used that to his advantage. With sheer determination, he tactfully outmaneuvered everyone to joyfully finish first. Coming in a tight fight for second was Axel Mazella and Olly Bridge followed by the rest of the pack.

By the start of the afternoon races, you could feel a bit of a warm breeze flowing, folks lined up along the water’s edge started talking in cautious tones about a weather pattern known all too well by anyone who has lived in Southern California–the Santa Ana winds! This weather phenomenon occurs when hot air blows from the East and it tends to be very strong, gusty, shifty and unpredictable. Robbie Dean, the event’s Kiteboarding Race Director consulted with the riders and a determination was made to run the first of the three races and see what would happen. Right off the start, the pack of riders sprinted out like a greyhound after a rabbit. Bumping and jostling for position to get the best possible angle in the shifting winds, by the time most got to the upwind buoy, the pack had clearly separated with everyone going in every direction in what each one hoped was the right tack. By the end of the race, Axel Mazella crossed first, extending his total of winnings to eight out of the 11 races. Finishing right behind him and moving up the the leaderboard to second place was Olly Bridge. The elated American Joey Pasquali finished in third and also moved up into fifth place. Riley Gibbs dropped into third and Three-time World Champion Johnny Heineken currently is in fourth place overall.

After seeing the wind shift numerous times during the previous heat making it extremely difficult for riders to finish the first race of the afternoon, Robbie Dean made a call that no race director ever wants to make, to cancel the remaining two races of the day which was the right call, as the winds became even shiftier and at one point looked like they were coming in two different directions.