In late September, International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) hosted its 3rd round of 2016 Kiteboarding Championships at Pingtan, Fujian Province, China. I, as a beginner in kiteboarding, had the chance to compete with some of the best riders in the world. There were a total of 105 riders from 25 countries took part in the championships.
Pingtan country is alledgedly the closest place in mainland China from Taiwan. A ferry ride takes 3 hours from the county to Tai Chung or Tai Pei. Wikipedia’s page on Pingtan reads
Pingtan County (Chinese: 平潭县) is a county comprising 126 islands in the Taiwan Strait, under the administration of Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province, People’s Republic of China. Now it is also the subject of newly founded Pingtan Comprehensive Pilot Zone (平潭综合实验区).
The event took place at the Longfengtou Beach, or the beach of “the head of dragon and phoenix”. Throughout the 5 days of the event, there was usually a blustery breeze of 25 knots and wave counts reached as much as 12. The waves measured easily more than 3 meters high, and there were massive swells further out into the sea, looked quite daunting for me as I spent most of my time kiteboarding in Shui Hau, a flat water beach in Hong Kong. But, it was perfect condition for the Big Air and Wave events in the first two days.
These mega jumps was spectacular to watch. To be honest I have only watched these on RedBull’s King of the Air competition on youtube, but I knew I was in for a treat to watch the live show.
Recapping the 5 day competition is not my intention, because there are many official posts that do a much better job (such as the one from World Kite League). There are also fantastic recap video made by IKA on YouTube. However, I just hope to showcase some highlights with pictures from IKA and some other local professional photographers.
(Photo credit and copyright: International Kiteboarding Association)
The champion of men’s Big Air competition went to Lewis Crathern from the UK.
The Twin Tip Races started on Day 3, and a total of 7 qualification races were held during the two days.
Going into day 5, the last day of the whole event, marked the final series, or the medal series of the twin-tip racing competition. I was lucky enough to rank among the first half after the qualification round and got into this medal series.
Every riders were fighting for the best spot before the starting signal, the tips of our kites were virtually touching each other and we had to be extremely careful in steering the kites.
These four medal races were incredibly intense and we saw many severe “traffic accidents”.
Untangling 8 lines at a time required some series efforts 🙂
Because this was my first time ever competing in kiteboarding, or any sailing events in general, it was quite hard for me to understand the sailing rules (especially the starting / finishing rules) at the beginning. My coach set a rather low target for me – to finish at least one race. My first race was disqualified because I was caught in an accident prior to the race and had to return to the beach to untangle my lines. In the second race, I wasn’t even able to locate the starting line but luckily I had result for this game (完全就是一脸懵逼跟大部队出发，turned out 居然有成绩! ). In the end, I was extremely happy because I finished 7 of the 11 races, including 4 of the 7 qualification races, and all 4 medal races.
Overall this was an incredibly fun and meaningful experience for me. I not only got more familiar with the sailing rules, became less intimidated by the big waves, but also made friends with top riders from around the world – China, Portugal, Thailand, UK, Korea, France, Brazil, etc. The organisers were super friendly as well.
Plus, seeing one of the competitors kitesurfing with TWO kites was definitely eye-opening.
And the video: sorry for the low quality though.
p.s. This is the second year for Pingtan to hold international kiteboarding events. I am quite happy to see this event receiving media coverage from some of the top local and national TV channels in China, including CCTV-5:
p.p.s I plan to create a separate post on the transportation, accommodation, tourist’s attraction and other traveller’s tips for Pingtan, China. Stay tuned.