The Surf Kayak World Cup

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Just a quick pre-cursor on how these competitions work. The way these kayak surfers are scored is based loosely on regular surfing with point awarded for wave selection and the performance of the most radical and controlled moves with speed and power carried throughout. What that means is, again, similar to surfing with aerial moves and huge slashing cut-backs being common place and the length of the ride adding to the score. The competition began as a series of eight heats with the first place finisher advancing to the third round and the second and third place finishers advancing to the second. In the second round, the top two kayakers advanced and it was single eliminations from there to the finals. Without further ado, the follow is Rusty Sage’s running commentary from the event.

Day 1:

Simply said, an amazing day of competition. Clean 3-6 foot waves with an offshore breeze and sunshine all day added to the enjoyment and spectacles of kayak surfing.

Ibon and Xabier (age 19) from the Basque Country showed the world that the future is now by placing 1st in both of their respective heats of men and to Roberta Borsari, the Female Brazilian surfer, setting the bar for the women, earning the highest point total. Today saw round 1 of Men and Women complete with rounds 2 and beyond planning on going tomorrow.

The junior’s have completed both of their rounds with the semi finals set. A new comer to the field Adam Harvey (age 15), younger brother to Chris “Air” Harvey, making the Semi’s going against top seeded Sam Davenport out of England. Sam and current World Champion, David Speller, have been putting on a show by demonstrating their overall skills in the surf and making it to their next respective round in the Sr. division as well.

Weather and swell permitting, tomorrow will see the completion of the Junior event, crowning the next Jr. World Champion.

Day 2:

Today saw another day of beautiful weather and wind. The swell has dropped a bit to 2-4 feet but still holding good form, with the offshore breeze.

The competition heated up as the elimination rounds took place. Ailsa McDougall (JER) showed that she is a force to be reckoned with by posted the highest score for women today. The Semi-Finals are now set for the women, one more round to determine who will be in the Championship round.

As for the Junior’s, a hard fought battle between Philip Watson (ENG) and David Speller (JER) in the Junior Semi-Final ended with a last minute high scoring wave from Speller to clinch a spot in the Finals. Sam Davenport (ENG) and David Speller will meet in the Junior Final to determine the World Cup Champion.

The Men’s division made it through the middle of Round three before the conditions made it too difficult for competition. However, there were some impressive heats of intense competition throughout the day, Pete Blenkinsop (ENG) and James Hawker (ENG) worked their way from Round two, to solidify a spot in the Quarterfinals, along with Junior Finalist Sam Davenport (ENG).

With one day left of competition the worlds’ best Kayak Surfers will compete in head-to-head single elimination format to determine the next World Champion.

Final Day:

As the sun rose we all wondered what the new swell would look like, the swell is predicted to be 2-4 ft at 12 sec. but you can never tell until it arrives. The gods granted us our wish with perfect competition atmosphere: beautiful sunshine, 5-7 knot offshore breeze and head high clean surf.

Heats got under way on time and head to head competition completed throughout the afternoon. One of the closest heats of the day was the Women’s Semi-Final with Roberta Borsari (BRA) and Ailsa McDougall (JER). Both of them were trading the lead back and forth through the heat and Ailsa came away with a half point lead at the end (33.5 to 33), advancing her way to the Finals to meet up with Tamsin Green (ENG), who has been showcasing sharp surfing skills throughout the competition.

Next up are the Men’s Quarter Final match ups. Sam Davenport (ENG) and Pete Blenkinsop (ENG) leading it off, one of the junior finalists making it far against the men, and Pete, the experienced veteran of surf kayaking, going head to head. Sam proved his skills and advanced to the Semis. Another well charged heat is freshly turned senior Xabier Olano (EUK, age 19) and his mentor Edu Exteberria (EUK) going against each other for a semi final slot. Experience came through in this heat, as the waves faded a bit, and Edu showcased his dynamic moves and consistency by edging out his countryman by 2 points (35.5 to 33.5).

Onto the Men’s Semi Final round where the youngster Sam Davenport and Edu matched up for a tight battle for the championship round. Wave after wave they traded high scores and fought the outgoing tide to find quality sections of waves. Edu edged Sam out by 1 point (39 to 38) to make his way to the Finals. In the next heat Chris Harvey and David Speller met with the waves of the day, long peeling glassy head high right-handers met these surfers and they responded by posting the highest scores of the day (47 and 43.5). David started it off with an incredible ride, long dynamic and controlled radical maneuvers in the critical part of the wave section. Chris answered back with his signature controlled aireal attack, along with several other great waves. The initial deficit proved to be too difficult to overcome and Speller beat out Harvey to make his way into both finals, Jr. and Men.

The Final Round, with some surfers surfing in 4 or more heats, endurance proved to be crucial in continuing top performance. The Juniors went off, Sam and David met head to head for the first time in the event, putting on a show for all to witness. Sam’s vertical attacks at the lip of the waves overcame David’s consistency and Sam was awarded the Title for Junior.

Tamsin and Ailsa are next for the ladies Final round, Ailsa is able to go right after the lip and score big points with big spray. However, Tamsin showed the consistency and found several waves that lined very nicely and she surfed them to perfection. In the end Tamsin Green received the World Title for the Ladies.

The Men’s Final is now upon us, Edu Exteberria, (EUK) the experienced coach of the Basque team and mentor to many kids that he teaches, and David Speller (JER) the kid from Jersey who is flowing with incredible natural talent and a force that is now present in the men’s division. The competitors requested additional time for their heat to ensure that the best waves are selected, the judges are set and the timers are ready as the final heat of the competition is under way. Right off the bat Speller nails a beautiful long wave that showcases his talent by landing every move executed and receives the top initial score. Edu fires back several times with his signature tail slash and spray, as time winds down there are no waves to be found like David’s first wave. Then in the final 2 minutes, with good position and priority Edu gets a quality wave that has great potential to shape up, he lines up and in perfect position as he performs a near perfect sequence the earns him the championship. Edu Exteberria is the 2008 World Cup Champion.

Many thanks to all that have helped along the way and who believe in this event, without you this wouldn’t be possible. Looking forward to another World Cup in 2010, and stay tuned for more on this and for the World Championships in Portugal in 2009.

Words by Rusty Sage

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