Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tarifa - Kitesurfing Capital of Europe!

This passed month has seen a fair few air miles and a fair few competition days and today is the first day back at home ready for a brief relaxation before hitting the Canaries off the coast of Africa on Sunday. With two PKRA events on the trot it certainly picks out man from mouse and although Tarifa wasn’t as windy as legend has it the proximity of the stops certainly has an effect.

On arrival to the event in Tarifa we were welcomed to one of the biggest and better organised Tour stops. Understandable considering Tarifa is Europe's Kitesurfing Capital and 1,000's of spectators were expected and well received. There was a judging tower with VIP area, rider lounges, VIP areas at other parts of the beach, beach shelters and media crews everywhere. They really went to town and it was amazing to be involved in such a hype.

After taking some time out of competition last year I had lost my ranking for the 2007 season which meant that for the passed events of this season I have been unseeded and therefore had to enter pre-qualifying events (France) to even make it into the main event. Its not really an issue, but finally for this event I had worked my way back up the rankings and back into the seedings which reduces the pressure f the events just a little.

I am currently in 6th place overall for the year which is just 2 places away from my goal as I would like to finish 4th overall, but would be happy with 5th. Despite being disappointed with my performance at this event here in Tarifa overall I'm pleased with the way things are going.

Tarifa as legend has it has some of the strongest winds in Europe. Last year one day of competition had to be postponed dues to wind speeds pinning the windometer at its max

However this year the wind in Tarifa was up and down. Many of the days were sat around hoping/waiting/preying for the wind to pick up and sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t. This meant sat around drinking redbull to prevent the lethargy of long days in the sun taking its toll.

The first heats of this event was held at 4pm in the afternoon and to be fair no amounts of redbull were keeping us on top form. The wind had been non existent all day and the temperature in its 30’s. All hope of wind had diminished as locals said it was highly unlikey, but then true to form the wind is always a completely unpredictable state of affairs and a thermal wind finally kicked in. Organisers were so keen to get the event underway that the wind picked up at 4pm and the first heat was on the water at 4.10pm. Lucky for me that wasn’t my heat, but my heat was at 4.20pm!!! So much better!? I have to be honest I rode really badly. I landed my first move on the buzzer - railey to blind, but from then on couldn’t shake my body awake enough to pull off my other harder tricks. I was just that second too slow into the tricks making me either make the pass, but trip the landing or miss the pass entirely.

I crashed back to blind twice and my air handle pass twice and before you know it beep 7 minutes are up! The other rider Joanne Litwin pulled off only her blind judge, but it was enough over my railey to blind. For both of us it wasn’t the best of heats and unfortunately I went out of the single elimination in the first round. From then on I was on a mission. I was up in the mornings with my kites pumped first thing regardless of the forecast. If the wind was going to pick up I was going to be ready. The following day was perfect to complete the rest of the single elimination, but as I was one of the 8 heats run the previous day I had this day off to train. I hit the water to work on my handle passes and things went pretty well.

2 days later it was my turn again in the doubles. I was riding up against Susi Mai who is currently third on the tour. She also rode bad on the first day like I did so it was unfortunate for us both to have a tough heat in the first of the double elimination. I went all out and aimed to kick her out of the contest landing all my tricks with super power, but there is a risk involved with this and I took a couple of hard crashes as well. Susi racked up the points with a safe heat and went through to the next round leaving me in a sorry last place. I feel really disappointed especially after riding so well in Venezuala, but I guess you win some and you lose some!

On Sunday I’m heading for a relaxed kitesurfing week in Lanzarote, but with the forecast as perfect as it is I know it will be far from relaxed (just the way I like it!!). Then I will head to Fuerteventura to train one week early in the strong winds of Sotavento before entering the next round of the PKRA. Lets see if I can do better!!! Keep you posted! x

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