Welcome to China! By Mario Rodwald
Since I am on the NKB international team I´ve spent quite some time in Asia, but never in China though. This massive country and it´s “communism” always brought some mystery to my imagination and it was really nice to get an insight. On some of the webpages Hainan Island was announced as the Hawaii of China, but it must be more the south of the island. Anyhow Chinese people are truly great at organising and tried to help as much as possible. It seems that in their culture the official meetings and dinners are very important, but can also turn out very funny as alcohol is a must have at these ceremonies!
The first day the wind did not quite kick in but was enough to show the Chinese crowd some of our tricks. All of them were pretty stoked on kiting as they invented the kite 2000 years ago. Furthermore they took hundreds of pictures, just as you would imagine. One day later the wind picked up even more and the race director Eric decided to run the Slalom Worldcup. It is the first time since many years that the PKRA is running this kind of downwind race again. Powered on 14 meter kites and locked into boots, racing against four of your mates/competitors is really really good fun! A head start can give you quite a lead, however in some of the races I could overtake one or two riders. Also the turns at the buoy can decide about winning or loosing the whole race. Most of the time I sent the kite for a downloop some meters before the turn, so you just make it around the buoy without loosing any speed. My start in the final was not that great, so I was fourth at the starting line. On the first downwind I could overtake Ewan (AUS) and Victor (FRA) and finished second behind Kevin (NED).
The Freestyle Single Elimination took place in nice 14 meter weather and some quite choppy water, with some small kicker waves near the beach. I was quite happy with my heat for these conditions, landing an F-Mobe blind, switch Slim, Double S-bend blind but unfortunately I lost quite close against Alberto Rondina for two points. My teammate Stefan Spießberger went one round further and also lost in another close heat against Alberto. After one day without wind and many hours in the hotel´s hot tub, the wind slowly started building up again on Saturday. It was quite rainy and a bit chilly in my shorty, but I wanted to make it at least into the price money and pushed Eric a bit, by some freeride sessions on the 14. Due to the light wind I had to re-run two of my first heats, but made it to the ninth place where my teammate Ariel Corniel kicked me out - in the end he got 7th. Reno and Stefan had some really decent heats as well and both finished 9th. Stefan’s heat against Christophe was a thrilling one as both are really close in the overall ranking. Unfortunately Stefan was really unlucky and broke his board on his Mobe5 and Christophe passed to the next round. The wind didn´t stay all the way through the double elimination and Youri could take this one home without going again. Right now everyone is pumping the kites for the trials in New Caledonia. Can´t wait to shred the blue water in paradise!