Slalom Action Heats up the PKRA AustriaMay-04-2014
The third day of the PKRA Surf World Cup in Podersdorf, Austria was full of action-packed slalom heats in building winds and stormy weather. In total, four races were completed and spectators were treated to some great racing. 2013 World Champion Brian Lake (US) maintained his top placing for the men and Katja Roose (NL) moved into the lead for the women.
Overnight, a cold front had pushed into the region, driving clouds and light to moderate rain over the area. Arriving to the event site, riders got their first chance to see conditions and hear the plan for the day from race director Erik Troostheide. The cold temperatures were a factor as the wind chill factor made it feel like 8-10 degrees Celsius, forcing riders huddled around heaters and in the provided hot tub between heats.
Throughout the day, riders were using kites ranging from 6-10m. Some racers chose to use twin-tip boards, while others chose directional boards in the blustery winds that ranged from 15-25 knots. The fleet was broken into qualifying heats of six. The top three finishers from the heats would race together in a 9-man final for the men and 6-man final for the women. Only the finals are counted for the overall points. Riders granted redress also race in the finals at times, making for some thrilling and tight races.
We saw excellent performances by Lake, Julian Kerneur, Florian Trittel, and Ariel Corniel as well as Ozzy Smith. With some tangles in the qualifying heats, most were clean, and there were clear starts all day. Rounding the top mark in first position was a luxury for only a moment, as heavy congestion rounding the buoys often caused some fumbling and exciting position changes. Also, there was a lot of passing on the straight-aways between the marks. This is a testament to the high level of riding here.
During a break for lunch, top PKRA freestyle riders, including Austria’s own Michael Schitzhofer and Stefan Spiessberger, treated the spectators to a freestyle show. While the riders used the lunch break to warm up and rest, the race committee reset the course, following which, two more races were run.
Despite injuring his ribs in a hard crash in the morning, excellent tactical sailing came from Lake in Race #5. Neck and neck with Smith, right before the last mark, Lake bared off to position himself downwind of Smith, accelerating at the last minute, forcing Smith to give way and allowing him to round the mark in first. Despite Smith clearly giving it his all, he was unable to regain the lost ground and Lake took the win for his second bullet of the day.
It was Katja Roose, Bibiana Magaji, and Barbara Stechauner that highlighted the day for the women completing the course with solid aggressive sailing. A notable finish from the women’s fleet came in race #6 when Roose rounded the top mark first and pulled out in front. Following by a half a line length, the battle for 2nd and 3rd place played out between Magaji and Stechauner over the course, with Magaji pulling ahead. On the last leg before the last buoy, Magaji started closing the gap and was a board length behind Roose at the last mark. As the ladies raced towards the finish line, Magaji blasted downwind to gain speed and took the win in a photo finish.
Tomorrow's forecast for the PKRA Surf World Cup calls for increasing wind. Cold temperatures and more sun is expected. Riders will meet at 9:30 am with a first possible start at 10 am. Follow the PKRA Tour on Facebook and Twitter feeds for all the latest updates, happenings, and event info.