Competitions, hydrofoiling, kitesurfing

ANOC World Beach Games 2019 – Doha/Qatar

ANOC World Beach Games 2019

10 t/m 16 October in Doha – Qatar. An International beach multi-sport event organized by the Association of National Olympic Committees. While some of the sports appear in the Olympic Games, all events on the program are non-Olympic events meaning there is new opportunities to engage for every country. Around 1240 Athletes from 97 countries, competing in 14 different disciplines: on the beach, in the water and action sports. Kitefoil Racing with its 40 competitors is one of those disciplines.

Kitefoil Racing will take place at Katara beach. We will be racing next to the skyscrapers. Two days of qualifications, one day with the semifinals and the finals (medal races).  By ending high enough on the world ranking after the Worlds in May  2019 I qualified myself  (and so The Netherlands) for this event. Not knowing what it would be, how it worked  or if I would be able to go.  I went back to freestyle and big air after this event. Because it was just the first competition I did in kitefoiling, a spontaneous one,  I never went there with the idea to qualify, just to look around in the racing scene. I already forgot about it. But the Dutch Sports federation (NOC*NSF) didn`t and they asked me if I wanted to go? And there is also place for a coach. Since I always travel alone to competitions and training places for kitesurfing, I had no Idea. Also knowing that the best 20 woman will be there I was a bit in doubt, knowing I still ride the same kites and equipment as before and knowing all of them switched to newer gear. Since it has to be registered.  it’s not that easy, not all brands register all kites. That`s formula kite and the newer the better performance.

But it appeared to be a super cool event with multiple sports, becoming Olympic or not Olympic – yet. Kitesurfing will be in 2024. This event promised to be a complete new experience and adventure for both of us – Katja (coach) and me.  Also it`s a good learning project for us, on the way to more international competitions and to see where we have to work in in the training weekends. That ended in a yes. With Katja as “coach” , former professional racer and still a super skilled kiter and racer.  Well and I have been to many hours at the airport without seeing anything in Qatar.  

No excuses anymore:  10 October we stood in full orange uniform at the airport, together with basketball 3×3, wakeboarding, bouldering and kitesurfing (TeamNL)  ready for check in to Qatar.  

Our Kitefoiling event started with one training day: we didn’t expected any wind. It’s something like 38 degrees outside, the water 30 degrees and the sun is shining whole day.  Surprised with a little breeze (also hot) we went out to discover the water of Qatar.  Which was actually really nice. Consistent wind and more than enough for a 18m, 20m was too big – for me.  This day we had to find out more about the wind, to see which kites I had to register for racing. The next day you have to register, the hydrofoil and 4 kites in different category’s and that are the kites you are allowed to use the whole event.  (4 kites allowed 15m > / 11 t/m 15 / 11m < /9M< ).  This will be inspected and measured.

The qualification days, we raced with all 20 woman together. The first 14 will be qualified for the semifinals.  The first day was a hard day. Not that much wind, a lot of wind holes and even more waiting.  End of the day , it seems to pick up a little… an average of 6 knots. We managed to get one race in. A really difficult,  light wind race, no room for mistakes. It surprised me that I kept the kite dry (oldest one on the water) and finished on time (6 minutes after the first finisher) in a 10th place. Maybe it was the gybe instead of tack technique 😛 .

The next day we had to do as many races as possible ( 6 max.) to finalize the qualifiers. The first two races it was already hard to get out from the beach and to the starting line. This day the wind was also to light for me and my kite…I did finish the races, but too late which results in two did not finish (DNF). After this races we had three more races with light wind but a little better. My goal was to have a good start and to finish in time. That’s what I did and made some scores. Before the last race I went in for my 15m which is smaller but newer and I know I can ride way better with it – since the wind decided to give us a bit more. The start was good and my position at the upwind mark (9) as well. But I just didn’t made it around the mark, I decided to take the risk, because of people coming my way and seeing people not making it. It was just a few millimeters and some distraction of kites super close above me…. I managed to get my foil back , round the mark and finish on time. Not on the pace I wanted …

And that mistake made me missing 3 points to be in the top 14 on my own power.  I know I did everything the first races and it would be difficult with this set-up to end up in the top 14. But after this day, 15th didn’t felt like our place. The next morning after protests (not for me) it turned out I am actually 14th and could race the semifinals.

Semifinals are races of two fleets existing out of 6 woman. The top 2 is already straight in the final. The first on of every fleet will also be in the final. The top 4 will race the medal races. This day the wind was also super light (again). Wind holes everywhere and average of 6 knots (again). I can tell you this 18m never stayed in the air during 5-6-7 knots. And in the Netherlands we have a lot of wind – usually, I hardly ever use a 18m (and this one never in 5 knots). But if the race director says we have to go … we go!

The first race I got stuck and the kite in the water – I just couldn`t get it up and ride upwind. It seemed like a big fight but I won. At least I thought but, my safety line was around the chickenloop, I found out when already riding away. At that point riding away I didn`t even think about starting anymore… I needed some place to fix , I was in front of a dock and a boat. In the water I couldn`t manage it because I was floating away and the kite not really staying in the air at its own. Crashing in front of the dock helped me to fix it. So yes, unfortunately I missed the first race, but I was on time for the next race. Which I finished 6th.

All final results together made me stay 14th. After all a good result, taking in mind the equipment used, experience and  the hours of training done.  I made my first top 10 place ever, raced my first semi-finals with a kite and made it into the top 14 of the world. Which was secretly my goal for this competition (and his year – top 15).  Next to the focus on good starts, preparation/plan and more smart riding – instead of just doing something (that`s used to be more my thing, but in racing not always a good thing – I know).  With the help of Katja coaching me and sharing her own competition experience and knowledge, I learned more than I would ever think off. I start to see it in the field and act to it. This competition it really  felt more like a team result, which I enjoyed. It helped me this competition but for sure even more in the future!

It was a great experience to be part of this event, the Dutch – team, to support the others and to be one of that 20 woman kitefoiling here in Qatar. Racing with skyscrapers on the background, 38 degrees and 30 degrees of the water something you should have done once is it? Definitely worth the yes!

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