Well the first round of the PKRA is complete and from a bystanders point of view I thought I\'d give you my view point based on last year.
The competition was sponsored by the mobile phone network Movistar and the local tasty beer over here Polar Light. It was organised well with sound systems blasting out music and commentry on to the beach that could even be heard on the water. There were plenty of spectators, good judging, and good conditions for kitesurfing. Choppy ish water (but not by UK conditions) and wind that was not too gusty that varied from 12m weather to 8m weather over the 5 days.
The final results were:
1st Aaron Hadlow (Flexifoil)
2nd Alvaro Onieva (Best)
3rd Kevin Langeree (Naish)
4th Ruben Lenten (Slinghsot)
5th Youri Zoon (Slingshot)
1st Bruna Kajya (Best)
2nd Gizella Pulido (Slingshot)
3rd Carolina Winkowski (Naish)
4th Ania Grzelinska (North)
5th Jo Wilson (Naish)
There were 32 entrants for the men. This is the same amount of men as there are places in the event so that meant that there were no qualifiers. All the riders that came had a space. This is a drop in numbers from last year. I would say that was because the event was held in Venezuala and that there will be more entrants in upcoming events in places such as Austria, Italy, Portugal, Spain etc.
For the women the numbers remained similar to last year, but again there were no qualifiers. There were 12 entrants.
The standard of riding this year has dramatically improved from the girls. Last year there were very few air handle passes although plenty of surface passes from blind and wrapped as well as big kite loops and down loops. Now some girls are pulling off slim chances, mobes, kite loop handle passes, 313\'s, blind judges, NIS\'s etc. There are 3 girls doing this and others who are close, but not quite there. There was just once last year where there were enough girls to make a full competition and as such if you are a girl thinking of entering you must. The majority of moves that are being pulled off are unhooked, but its not unattainable for you to do.
For the men. Well in my opinion it has become more techinical in that there are more handle passes being pulled off in \'switch\'. Switch basically means if a rider pulls of a handle pass on one tack and then pulls it off on another then they are doing it on their bad side as well as their good. Switch is their bad side and if they can do this then it makes them a better rider then someone who only pulls it off on their good side. It seems that a lot of the riders have been trying to do this. Alvaro Onieva (Best) did well in this competition from being able to do his tricks on both tacks.
Aaron Hadlow last year was the first rider to pull off a powered double handle pass setting a standard for the other riders to achieve. This year there are many riders capable of this - generally in both back and front mobes. Its pretty cool to watch, but perhaps the top 10 riders are doing this for competition so far and not all of them pull it off in all their heats.
The emphasis of the contest is on power and risk. So the more speed and height acheived resulting in greater distance travelled horizontally while keeping the kite low (preferably below 45 degrees) is what the judges are looking for and what the riders are working hard to achieve. Watching the heats I felt that the riders had been working on improved technical ability at the detriment of power and while they were performing awesome tricks the sport has more potential to move in a powerful direction. Rider working well with power include Aaron Hadlow, Ruben Lenten, Tom Herbert, Sebastian Garat. Other riders also pull off powered moves, but are progressing other moves towards that direction at this time.
To watch the riders compete on the World Tour is amazing. As a specatator you feel involved and close to the action. The ridres play up to the crowd and the atmosphere is exciting. Check out www.pkra.info to find out other locations of the world tour come along to watch or enter if there is one close to home. You will have a great time.