PILI, CAMARINES SUR—They’re the best riders and the best judges, too.
Here’s a competition unlike any other as the athletes in the Wind or No Wind Kiteboard Jam decide among themselves who should be crowned as the best.
“It’s a jam, so we get together and we see what happens,” Brazilian Mauricio Abreu, one of the world’s kiteboarding pioneers, said before the culmination of the nine-day event this weekend at the CamSur Watersports Complex here.
“We all judge each other, we all have fun, we all see who’s better than us. It’s the best way to judge a competition in an evolving sport. I can get judges to sit down and score, but I know better how difficult it is to do a trick. We have 22 competitors, so we have 22 judges,” said Abreu.
Five-time world kiteboarding champion Aaron Hadlow and world No. 11 Tom Court, both from the United Kingdom, lead the foreign and local riders vying for the Best Overall Performance, Best Cable Rider and Best Kite Rider awards.
“The champion is the guy who we all like in the water the most,” said Abreu. “It’s a different concept.”
Kiteboarding is an extreme sport that demands both technical skills and flair in maneuvering a kite and a board on water.
“There’s not a strict criteria, but there are certain things you look for, like the technical variations and the tricks,” said Court, a 22-year-old rider, who made a name on his rookie year in 2003 by winning the UK under-18 Championship.
But doesn’t anyone feel cheated?
“It’s quite a fair way to judge it, really, because we’re all looking at each other,” said Court. “Throughout the event we’re watching each other. At the end of it, we get a piece of paper and we write down who we thought has improved the most and who’s doing the best stuff.”
More than a competition, lone Filipino bet Paula Rosales said the event introduces the sport to more Filipinos.
“When I started kiteboarding three years ago, we were less than 10 [Filipinos],” said the 25-year-old Rosales.
“We had an issue with Hong Kong, but 30 visitors from Hong Kong came,” said CamSur Gov. Lray Villafuerte. “So it took kiteboarding for them to come despite the travel ban here.”