Kiteboarding whiz to compete in Christchurch
There will be added interest in this week's national kiteboarding championships in Christchurch with leading New Zealand competitor Marc Jacobs heading south.
The Mt Maunganui rider is one of the best in the business, finishing second on last year's PKRA (Professional Kite Riders Association) World Tour. Jacobs' result was the finest return by a New Zealander in the history of the freestyle circuit.
Event organiser Alex Bowater said Jacobs would be the star attraction of the competition, which will be held at the Canterbury Windsports Association's Estuary location off Humphreys Drive from today to Sunday.
"Jacobs will the favourite. He's always one to watch out for. He's been actively following the world tour for the past three years. This year was his best yet [on the tour]," Bowater said.
Kiteboarding combines elements of wakeboarding, windsurfing and paragliding. It is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world.
The national championships will consist of the men's and women's freestyle events, as well as junior and masters competitions. About 50 competitors are expected to duel across the four classes.
Su Kay, who has competed on the Kiteboard Asia Tour, is expected to be the leading contender in the women's open event.
Canterbury's top hopes will include Jackson Mills and Martin Harris in the men's open, and Jae Smith and Ethan Waitoa in the junior ranks.
In the freestyle event, riders look to impress the judges with aerial moves based on technical difficulty, style, innovation, height and smoothness, Bowater said.
Four riders are out on the water during a seven minute heat, with the top two progressing through to the next phase and the bottom two riders dropping down to the repecharge round.
Bowater said kiteboarding was popular among youth in Christchurch and felt interest in the sport had grown over the past few years. Cantabrians did not have to travel far to areas like the Estuary or Waikuku Beach, where conditions were ideal.
"It's like wakeboarding without petrol," he said.
"That's how we look at it. It's a whole summer of entertainment, paid for at the start."
Kiteboarding was a relatively expensive sport with the boards costing between $500 and $1000 and the kites, anywhere from $2000 to $2500.
"The cost of the equipment is the limiting factor. We try and push as many kids as we can into the sport," Bowater said.
"Probably the easiest place to learn kiteboarding is New Zealand. It could be warmer, but you just throw a wetsuit on and go."