The second day of the 2018 La Ventana Classic started off with blue skies and an early wind line. The SUP mini-downwinder got underway around 11am as standup paddleboarders lined up amongst the starting line at Hot Springs Beach and awaited the siren which signaled the start of the race. As the siren sounded, SUPers sprinted towards the water, clambered on top of their boards and started paddling, rounding the first buoy at the Hot Springs before heading 7 miles downwind to Palapas Ventana. 35.37 minutes later, Macrae Wylde right shouldered the Liquid Force buoy outside of Palapas Ventana to claim first place followed by Mendocino’s Jon Walsh and then Pablo Gaston of Tahoe. For the ladies it was Hood River’s Mary Rose Kissinger who came in first followed by Ella Johnson. After crossing the finish line at Palapas Ventana, athletes loaded up their SUPs and headed back up to the Hot Springs for their second mini-downwinder of the day. The wind had picked up for their second downwinder and Macrae Wylde finished in 32 minutes and 15 seconds with Jon Walsh just behind and Pablo Gaston following in third.
After the SUPers took off on their first downwinder, course racing began for the foilers. Foil kites filled the water in front of Hot Springs Beach before the start of three one lap course races. Putting on a speed show, race one finished with Ejder Ginyol in first, Connor Bainbridge in second and Xantos Villejos in third. Connor Bainbridge finished first in race 2 followed by Xantos Villejos and Ejder Ginyol, and race 3 saw Connor Bainbridge take the win followed by Armagon Ersalat and Xantos Villejos.
Around 1pm, athletes gathered for a slalom/freestyle rider’s meeting which announcer Matt Sexton exclaimed looked more like “a kiteboarding version of US Weekly” due to the tent packed with celebrity athletes including Colleen Carroll, Reed Brady, Matt Elsasser and Eric Rienstra.
First up after the rider’s meeting was slalom racing. This event required a dry sand beach start and after awaiting the sound of the horn, athletes sprinted in a boardercross fashion for 2 laps through a figure 8 course around 2 red buoys in front of the beach. Louis Diego Geraldo crossed the finish line first for Men’s Competitor Heat 1 and Matt Elsasser took the win for Men’s Competitor Heat 2. After a shaky start for the Women’s Competitor Heat, Kris Kinn finished first while Bryon Howard finished first in Sportsman’s Heat 1, Steve Condon took first for Sportsman’s Heat 2 and Laura Flath was the first to cross the finish line in the Women’s Sportsmen heat.
The final event of the day saw four men’s freestyle heats along with a Women’s Sportsman heat, Women’s Competitor heat and a Men’s Semifinal heat. Athletes would be scored from 0-10 on height, trick difficulty, variety, style, and overall impression/crowd stoke. Additional judging criterion was added with a scoring of 0-10 on risk for the Competitor category and 0-10 for sportsmanship for Sportsman athletes along with a special Ozone Big Air award for both Sportsmen and Competitors.
Men’s Competitor Heat 1 was comprised of Ken Kerr, Eric Rienstra and Joe Ruscito. OG Joe Ruscito who has landed three Kiteboarder Magazine covers in previous years, brought his oldschool freestyle game in order to advance to the finals. In Heat 2 Chris ‘Ricky Bobby’ Bobryk faced off against Will Cyr and Eric Vanek. Out of the starting gate Bobryk bonked the buoy and showed off with some stylish grabs, but it was Will Cyr on his Flysurfer foil kite and directional twintip who boosted some massive crowd-pleasing airs to move onto the Men’s Competitor finals. Reed Brady moved onto finals for heat 3 but the closest heat of the day was Heat 4 between Louis Diego Geraldo and Layne Mullard. Although Louis Diego’s backmobe and monster blind judge maneuvers may have been more technical, it was Layne’s entertaining one-footers, and crowd-pleasing Jesus Walks that advanced him into finals by 2 points over 4 judges.
For the Women’s Sportsmen heat, Megan Monroy landed a boardoff table top, Bec Howard landed a darkslide and a front roll and Shannon Gowan wowed the crowd with a front roll and a railey. For the Women’s Competitor heat, Kris Kinn stepped it up grabbing the crowds attention with an unhooked frontroll, raley to blind both ways and an S-bend to blind both ways.
The windline drew back for the final Men’s Competitor Final Heat of the day. Although the wind was light Reed Brady, Will Cyr, Joe Ruscito and Layne Mullard headed out to put on one last show for the crowd. Reed landed a solid back mobe, Will landed some more lofty big airs on his foil kite and Joe Ruscito landed a double S-bend to blind. The sun began to set as the riders came off the water and the raffle began before athletes and spectators alike headed to Chilo Chill for the live musical stylings of the Mexican Weirdos.
Schedule Update: Friday, January 19th
7:15am SUP island crossing load boats at hot springs
10:30am Skipper’s meeting for foil course racing
1:00pm Skipper’s meeting for competitor and sportsman kiteboarders and windsurfers slalom racing
1:00pm Mountain bike slow race meet at hot springs
1:15pm Skipper’s meeting for freestyle. Freestyle will start right after slalom
7:30pm LVC Dance Party at Martin Azul
Photos by Noles Dennhardt and Jason Hudson