The opening ceremonies was unlike anything ever seen at any kitesurfing event ever. I repeat ever. Done in a style only the Chinese can deliver, it was a massive opening capped off with a fireworks show. And all done for us, the world kitesurfing community.
The KTA organizers Neil Godbold and Willy Kerr did an awesome job getting the hotel kitchen to provide unbelievably good meals for the event. The food was absolutely fantastic. A mix of European and Chinese kitchens, the taste and quality was excellent. After 19 hours on the night bus, the food at lunch saved us and gave us the needed energy to get through the day and into the party events of the evening.
Wind unfortunately was not as intense as most had hoped, but the racing was on and over 1000 locals from the area turned up to see what this new scene is all about. By 4pm we had a full day of race results behind us. Sunday and Monday would be about the same with the wind always teasing us thinking it would amp up for some awesome freestyle action, but unfortunately it was never quite enough. Good, but not the nuking winds we all hope for on freestyle comp days.
The Saturday night party was an awesome event, something all 81 KTA participants will forever remember. Neil and Willy arranged for busses to take everyone into town for a night out at a big club. We rolled up at 9pm with the place a naked tomb, and within 5 min had it hopping with a full-throttle party scene. With €0.90 bottles of beer, the crowd was definitely lubricated and partying hard. Local DJ boy was spinning good hip-hop, R&B, and rock tunes all night. Around 10:30pm locals started showing up, but we owned the joint and partied on until 2:30am when it was finally decided to get back to the hotel if anyone was going to be competing on Sunday morning. It was a wicked fun evening with antics the locals should be talking about for weeks to come.
Sunday breakfast was again a feast for champions and by noon the wind was on enough for more race action. Non-competitors were able to ride off to the side of the event, so everyone was enjoying in the fun and afternoon wind. We offered our Evolution trainer kites to some locals so they could feel the vibe and get a sense of what this kiting thing is all about. Smiles all around and it looks like some new kiters will be joining the China kite scene shortly.
By 5:30pm it was time for our Maelstrom team to head back to HQ in Zhuhai, but no way were we going to repeat the 19 hour night bus journey. We opted for the train and it was the right decision. From Haikou to Guangzhou is only 12 hours on hard sleepers and then 90 min by bus back to Zhuhai. So all around a much better return journey and without the danger factor of the #207 national road.
Wenchang as a destination has a long way to go before it ever becomes if every can become another Mui Ne or Hua Hin. The water is a poo colour brown, and there is zero wave action. There are only a couple hotels along the beach and no smaller accommodation options. Once you get to the hotel that is it, there is nowhere to walk outside the hotel for food or even to buy water and a snack. It is the hotel, pool, and beach, end of story. With the northeast monsoon there should be possible wind from Nov—April, but the environment is not anywhere as appealing as Mui Ne in Vietnam, or Pranburi in Thailand, or Boracay in the Philippines. Like most of China it is development gone wrong. Big tower block buildings, piers built out into the water, all around BIG, BAM, and in-your face. Not a place I would see myself going for a kiteboarding holiday or any holiday, but a fun place for the KTA as all riders, sponsors, and support staff were able to hang and have fun together at the hotel and beach venue.
Once again, Neil and Willy organized a fantastic KTA event with solid management, safe riding conditions, fantastic food to keep everyone fueled, and an awesome Saturday evening party that is sure to stay in the memories of all that attended. For those riders coming from France, Turkey, and the Philippines who could not get China visas, they unfortunately missed out on one great leg of the KTA.
Maelstorm is proud to have the opportunity to support the KTA and vision of Neil Godbold to bring an international level competition to the Asia region. Congrats Neil on another successful event, you are 7 for 7, and with riders coming in from all over the world, the KTA is truly the international event of champions.
Looking forward to seeing everyone at the next tour stop, Mui Ne Vietnam 28 – 31 January.
- Maelstorm Limited