With an early start brought on by a riders’ meeting at 08:30, competitors filtered onto the event site ready to begin the first day with full commitment and enthusiasm.
As wind conditions proved to be light at first, the competitors were forced to bide their time for a few hours in hope of stronger wind. The men’s freestyle trials were scheduled to get underway first, with the possibility of getting stuck into the racing later in the day.
While some riders chilled out and socialized in the official “lounge area”, taking advantage of the plush chairs and hospitality, others chose to catch up on some sleep. As the riders waited it out, current World Champion, Youri Zoon was overheard saying how excited he is to be competing in his home country, and in a place where he is so familiar with the conditions. The fact he can also head home at the end of each competition day represents a very welcome change from the months spent living out of suitcases in hotels.
With a forecast for strong winds from the outset, many were surprised to see such light winds in the morning. That said, the winds began to pick up in the afternoon becoming more consistent, allowing trials to begin just after 14:00. A typical Dutch downpour of hail and rain marked the turning point in the weather, forcing competitors and beach goers alike into the huge O’Neill tents and lounges.
While the morning progressed slowly, once trials commenced it became clear why this location was chosen as a premier PKRA World Tour kiteboarding destination. The wind blew in a range of 15 knots for trials, only fluctuating slightly. At this point, onlookers watched as the talented competitors performed at their highest abilities. Riders such as Stefan Spiessberger (AUT), Ewan Jaspan (AUS), and Bas Koole (NED) advanced early on, while Reno Romeu (BRA) and Eudazio Da Silva (BRA) also moved into the single elimination final. In particular, Liam Whaley (ESP), Johnno Sholte (NED), and Michael Schitzhofer (AUT) performed particularly well, exhibiting ideal speed, power, and execution in the majority of their gravity-defying maneuvers.
With consistent wind blowing at around 14-16 knots, the competition moved into the first round of single eliminations at around 18:15. In these heats, Schitzhofer, Patrick Blanc (ESP), and O’Neill rider Sam Light (UK) initially advanced with a wide array of Blind Judges, S-Bends, and L3s – setting an impressive precedent for the heats to come in the following days. In the latter part of the first round, riders struggled with gustier and windier conditions, making it even more challenging to score big points.
For tomorrow, both racing and single eliminations are likely to run. The forecast looks stronger than today, with wind gusts expected to reach the high teens.