Castelldefels, Spain. Nov. 1 – Nov. 4
The fifth and final leg of the MINI Kitesurf Tour Europe made a splash in Spanish waters over the weekend. The four-day competition kicked off in Castelldefels, Spain last Thursday.
With kitesurfing setting sail for on its Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Games, the 97 world class kitesurfers from 19 countries had plenty to make waves about during this 2012 European tour. That excitement was hard to miss on the Spanish seas where contenders showcased awe-inspiring speeds and maneuvers, showing rapt onlookers just how far the kitesurfing sport has come in the last decade.
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With winds at twenty knots and not a cloud in the sky, the conditions were more than above board for the freestyle events. Rodwald, the hailing KTE titleholder, proved comfortable in his role as reigning champ and cruised solidly into another first place win. Spiessberger took second and local rider Patrick Blanc (ESP, Ozone) scored third place against Johnno Scholte (NED, Future Kiting). Dutch freestyler Annelous Lammerts (Slingshot) scored first place in the women’s round, Therese Taabbel (DEN, Cabrinha) second and German rider Sabrina Lutz (North) third place.
For the course racing championships, Italian kitesurfing superstar Riccardo Leccese (Ozone) surfed into first place, Adam Koch (USA, Ozone) into second and Maxime Nocher (FRA, North) into third. Steph Bridge (GBR) dominated the woman’s fleet, with Christine Bönniger (GER, Flysurfer) riding away with second place, followed by Spanish racer Elena Anton Pascual (Ozone).
In the mens’ overall tour rankings, Leccese scored number one on the winner’s podium, Maxime Nocher number two, followed by Florian Gruber (North). In the womens’, Christine Bönniger won the overall tour ranking, followed by Kathrin Borgwardt (GER, Cabrinha) and Steph Bridge (GBR) taking third.
Making waves in five countries across Europe, this year’s MINI Kitesurf Tour Europe brought kitesurfing to new heights and was a tantalizing forcecast of the action to come at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Who says it’s too early to start the pre-Games celebrations? Watch this newly released short film from the International Kiteboarding Association and get ready for Rio!
La Baule, France. Sept. 27 – Sept 30
The fourth leg of Kitesurf Tour Europe 2012 started with a bang over the weekend, with a full day of racing action that included appearances from international stars Adam Koch (USA), Ricardo Leccese (COL), Steph Bridge (GBR), and Caroline Adrien (FRA). Thursday saw 117 riders, 76 racers and 41 freestyle competitors from 20 different nations descended upon the seaside resort district of La Baule, France along its Atlantic coast — the longest sand beach in Europe.
Day two of the competition in La Baule saw lighter wind conditions, prime for a few hours of Course Racing with 17-meter kites. American Adam Koch once again dominated the men’s competition, finishing first overall two days in a row. What little wind the riders did have was fleeting, with not enough breeze for proper racing or freestyle riding following a few heats of the women’s course competition on days two and three. Fortunately, the wide range of beachside attractions, including kite school and skateboard ramps, proved a fun substitute for thrilling kitesurfing battles.
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Despite the lack of optimal weather conditions, Riccardo Leccese (ITA) and Stephanie Bridge (GBR) were crowned with the European Championship Course Racing title, earning valuable points that will increase their chances at making the cut for the next Olympic Games.
KTE 2012 will continue to its final leg at Castelldefels in Barcelona in November. In the meantime head to the official KTE site for all things kitesurfing, including rider profiles, standings, videos and more.
Brouwersdam, Holland. Aug 16 - Aug 19
The third leg of the MINI Kitesurf Tour Europe set sail in Dutch waters for the first time ever this past weekend. The four day competition kicked off in Brouwersdam on August 16, famous for extreme wind conditions and colossal sand dunes.
This was the first stop of the tour following all the action in London, and with kitesurfing to make its Olympic berth in the 2016 Rio Games, the 101 world class kitesurfers from 15 countries had plenty to be excited about. That vigorous spirit took to the Holland seas and showcased impressive maneuvers and at breakneck speeds, leaving onlookers on the edge of their beach towels.
Surprisingly the Brouwersdam winds didn’t live up to their reputation as the conditions were too light for any freestyle action over the course of the four days, however they were still above board for racing. Surfing into first place on the podium were Ricccardo Leccese (Columbia) and Stephanie Bridge (UK) who rode consistently throughout the competition. Maxime Nocher (FRA) and Christine Bönniger (GER) scored second place, and Florian Gruber (GER) and Katja Roose (NED) came in third. Although the 60 freestyle riders didn’t get to hit the water, they had plenty on the beach beach and event village to enjoy with DJ booths, relaxation lounges and kite brand displays. Even the athletes need some time chilling on the boardwalk.
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Next up on the MINI Kitesurf Tour Europe will be the Derby Kites of La Baule in France on September 27-30. Don’t miss out on the racing and freestyle frenzy, along with the kite training area, a MINI showroom and MINI test rides in the event village!
Sylt, Germany. June 26 — July 1
From June 26 to July 1, the MINI Kitesurf Tour Europe descended on the German island of Sylt. Nearly 100,000 spectators came out to see the action, which featured 85 of the best riders from around the world. The competition started with a bang, with 22-knot winds and heavy breaking waves crashing against the shores of the North Sea. Perfect conditions for a full day of riding.
Winds proved less favorable on day two and three, with a 5-knot breeze offering such meager support that competitions had to be postponed. But that didn’t stop fans and riders alike from enjoying the boardwalk and test-driving some new MINI. Riders Meike Erichsen and Niklas Imaz left their boards in their rooms and took a MINI John Cooper Works Roadster and MINI Countryman out for a spin at Sylt’s famous sand dunes. For the more engaged fans, MINI offered a chance to try their own hand at the extreme sport, with longboards and trainer kites at the MINI Kite Area.
By day four the wind was back and riders were eager to hit the waves, with day five seeing perfect conditions as well. Close finishes, head-to-head battles, and plenty of changing standings throughout kept the competition interesting.
When MINI KTE Sylt came to a close on July 1, there could only be one on top of the charts for each category. After some fierce racing on the whitecaps, Dutch rider Rolf van der Vlugt and France’s Caroline Adrien landed on the top of the men’s and women’s leaderboards for Course Racing, while Julien Kerneur of France took first place in the men’s slalom and Katja Roose of the Netherlands rose through the ranks to the top of the women’s competition. In an exciting head-to-head match that proved to be a spectacular highlight of the week-long event, Stefan Spiessberger from Austria and Germany’s Mario Rodwald squared-off for the freestyle championship. When all was said and done, Mario Rodwald continued his winning streak on home turf.
MINI Kitesurf Tour Europe will be back on August 16 as it takes a step West to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. We’ll keep you posted on all the action.
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MINI Kitesurf Tour Europe 2012 Kitesurfing — also called kiteboarding or flysurfing — is an extremely young sport, but one that's sweeping adventurous circles with fiercely contagious popularity. It's now one of the fastest-growing sports in Europe. The explosion of extreme sports in recent decades has athletes these days performing insane stunts in superpipes, throttling over giant dirt ramps, and literally bouncing off concrete walls. Kitesurfing brings a unique voice to adrenaline junkies worldwide by fusing the beauty of ocean spray with the sick tricks of big air and pure wind-driven speed in racing.
The movement may be relatively young, but the skill displayed on the surf is very mature. And competitive. This year as part of its ongoing dedication to backing young sports talent, MINI is supporting Kitesurf Tour Europe 2012 as a title partner, making it the world's first carmaker to sponsor kitesurfing in Europe. The tour is the official European Championship, meaning only the best of the best will be competing. The five-part competition series starts in Podersdorf on Austria's Lake Neusiedl from 3 to 6 May 2012, then heads to the North Sea on the island of Sylt from June 26 to July 1. From August 16-19 the racers and freestylers will converge on Brouwersdam in the Netherlands, and September 20-23 will see them in the French watersport paradise of La Baule. The final will take place November 1-4 in Castelldefels near sunny Barcelona.
"Kiteboarding nowadays has evolved into a respected board sport that looks really spectacular," says professional kiteboarder Alex Pastor. "It's the most impressive and fun sport I've ever seen and it's one of the biggest things in my life now. I don't think I could ever stop practicing. The level of the pro riders now is incredibly high, so I have to take it really seriously, train a lot and compete, and that can be a bit stressful. But there are so many good things about the sport that I really wouldn't change this life for anything."
But what exactly is kitesurfing and where did it come from? You might be surprised to learn that kites have been dotting the skies for nearly 2,500 years. But this wind-sourcing tool wasn't employed for water-to-air thrill-seeking purposes until far more recently. Kite-related water and ski sports began to be explored during the early 1990s, with kitesurfing really establishing itself at the end of that decade, with new materials and designs allowing riders to launch, land and then relaunch themselves high out of the water. With that of course came flips, grabs, and a whole slew of other airborne antics.
Freestyle judging at an event is based on the first 12 tricks attempted in a single session by a competitor, with the best 7 of these counted toward scoring. Crashes count as attempts during this period, deducting from the 12 available, so it's important for a rider to nail each one. Overall complexity and skilled execution of their set determines a final score. Racing is just about being the fastest (with record speeds hitting over 50 knots). And what's in it for competitors? How about a cool 60,000 Euros. That pot of cash will be distributed in portions from different events throughout the series. May the best rider win.
Spectators at the Kitesurf Tour Europe 2012 won't be limited to sunbathing and scoping the riders from shore, either. From the safety of terra firma and under the guidance of experts, they'll get a taste of the exhilarating sport first-hand at the MINI Kite Experience Area. And if they'd like to test-drive another kind of thrilling vehicle, the latest models from the MINI Family will be ready to ride at the MINI lounge.
"We are delighted with this partnership," says Sebastian Beuchel, BMW/MINI Brand Management, Sales Region Europe. "Kitesurfers and MINI both stand for an individual and passionate approach to life that is expressed through the creativity of the kitesurfing turns and the design of the cars."
Kitesurf Tour Europe 2012 is dedicated to push the sport and its athletes to the next level. With riders coming from more than 20 nations, the competition is sure to be heated and it will be interesting to see all the unique styles come together. MINI is proud to be part of the team and can't wait to see these riders carving across the frothy whitecaps with bold moves and reckless abandon.
Suit Days at Home — Alex Pastor
MINI Space will bring you updates as the season develops, so check in with us in the weeks to come for all the latest.
Kitesurf Tour Europe 2012 Schedule:
May 3-6: Podersdorf, Austria June 26-July1: Sylt, Germany August 16-19: Brouwersdam, the Netherlands September 20-23: La Baule, France November 1-4: Castelldefels, Spain