Friday, April 18, 2008

PKRA Round Two – Le Mondial Du Vent

Last Friday I flew to the second round of the PKRA which has just been held on the Mediterranean coast in the South of France in a tiny little place called Leucate. To arrive I flew to Barcelona to meet Ania Grzelinska and Cari Schivabaag also riders on the PKRA and together we drove the 220km journey. Passing the border proved interesting. We were one 3 blonds – 1 English, 1 Polish, 1 Nowegian travelling from Spain to France with the car loaded to the brim with boardbags – of course they had to search us!?? After scrutinising our flight tickets, corresponding luggage labels, car papers, driving licenses, passports they finally let us on our way and we arrived some three hours after set off point in Leucate having only one short unintentional detour in Perpignon on the way.

(ok so this is audrey meyer, kirsty jones and tom court - but equally as suspect as us)

I have heard many stories about Leucate regarding the wind. ‘It’s the worst place you can imagine kiting – the winds are way worse then any other spot you have ridden before’! I’m thinking I’ve ridden some bad spots is that really possible. Well passing the final stage of the highway we drive by big neon signs flashing the words ‘volent vent’. They are spaced every few miles and the trees are giving it some welly. Well we rock up in Leucate and it really is blowing a mental one. Kevin Langeree had just survived 5 minutes on his 6m Naish Torch, but was incapable of unhooking. He had come in and we pulled the car up beside Petr Tysburstish and Mike Blomvall who were routed firmly to dry land and not even slightly tempted to test it out. They gave us the low down and we offloaded our kit to the kit tent and registered hoping the ‘volent vents’ become less ‘volent’ for the next day.

(Looks sunny and warm right!! Well trust me - looks can be deceiving!!!)

Well 5 days later and the event is over. We have been really lucky with the wind so they tell us. We were full power on our 6m’s some of the time, but the 8m’s hit the water occasionally and I even entered the course racing using my 10m Torch. The maximum winds we saw excluding day 0 were 35 knots and here it can reach 60 knots without a qualm. The conditions to ride were mostly hindered by the temperature. Considering it was the South of France we certainly weren’t prepared for the 7 degrees excluding the wind chill.

There were 20 entrants for the ladies freestyle event. We even had to have a qualifying event for the first time in a long time. I missed half of last year’s events and also round 1 of this year as I was in Australia filming for the TV documentary – Dangerous Jobs for women. This meant that I am not ranked this year and so into the qualifiers I had to go.

My riding in this event was extremely rusty and a couple of my heats I even came in laughing at the disaster of how it went, but I fortunately made it through two heats. In the second half of my third heat I finally got myself together and pulled off a down loop railey and a fairly high air handle pass in the gusty horrible 6m weather conditions, but even though it was a 3-2 decision from the judges it didn’t go in my favour.

To be fair I couldn’t expect to do much better here considering my lack of time on the water lately, so I sat back in the warmth of dry clothes and for once at a competition had a chance to watch the majority of the women’s heats to see how things have progressed. I was relaxed instead of hyped up and angry for losing out so early and was finally able to see things from a new view point.

Its funny because last year I was really disappointed in myself and upset to feel that I had let the people who had faith in me down, but I sat here in France as if I was a fly on the wall. For this short term I had lost my level of riding and found it really hard popping to get good height and power to my moves. I was crashing doing simple things and just generally struggling with getting to grips with things. I know now to appreciate what I can do but still works towards the things that I can’t. I think I have finally worked out a way to unload the pressure I load on myself to improve and now to enjoy my level for how I am (normally – not here in France). I fly to Venezuala on Sunday and I have fresh, new relaxed determination. I finished just 9th in this competition, but that is the lowest I intend to do at any point this year. I’m gasping to get back out there, get my level back up to scratch and unleash a new fury from here on!! Happy days, happy me, happy kiting to everyone!!!

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