This year as per usual in early April there was the 12th running of the European Junior Kitesurf Cup (EJKC) to be held in St Pierre La Mer in the south of France, where it had been run for the past 11 years.
I had won the upper age group (16 – 19 years) in 2015, so in March I registered with a view to defending my title as European Champion. The event was originally run as a European Cup, then in 2013 to allow all to compete and bring a higher level of competition to the event it was classed as a European Open. But 2 weeks before the event the classing was changed again and the event had been given world title sanctioning from the IFKO. So the Junior World Championships where on. We still had the same Team from SNkite but the event was bigger than ever.
After a couple of days of getting used to the cold gusty wind all was well. When I arrived at registration I found out that the seeding was not going to continue due to the event gaining new sanctioning. But they were running out a new method scored only on points for the first and second rounds with the top 16 then the top 12 advancing. This sounded good was excited to see how it played out.
The forecast was for at least 2 and maybe 3 days of La Tramontane, a north westerly wind driven down from the Pyrenes which is pretty much straight offshore but once blowing, the wind is cold and strong but can be gusty and difficult to handle.
Day 1 of the event on 7th April saw the younger boys and both girls age groups get on and my age group was released until Day 2. I had a small session upwind from the comp zone getting myself ready to compete.
Day 2 on 8th April saw a forecast of 25 knots+ offshore with La Tramontane blowing and it turned out to be 9m wind all day for me with a lot of the other riders going out on 6’s & 7’s.
My heat in round 1 went well with me scoring the 3rd best score and in the top 16 getting into round 2.
My heat in round 2 was not so good but with the score in round one being taken into account to give a two round average again I was placed with the 3rd best score in round 2 securing a top 8 place getting me into the knock out stages in the quarter finals which were to take place the following morning on Day 3. In the quarters I was drawn against French rider Julien Krikken.
The offshore wind was as gusty as it had been on Day 2 but I had a bad heat crashing some of the tricks that I’d normally land without thinking like 313’s, and Slims/Slim 5’s.
Julien on the other hand had his best heat of the competition and so I was out, leaving me with 5th place.
Julian lost his heat in the Semis and then lost in the small final against French national pro champion, Nicolas Delmas to take 4th place. The final for the winners of the other semi-finals were Simon Lamusse and Louka Pitot from Mauritius with Pitot taking the win.
So, last chance saloon it was so far as getting on the podium as this was the last year that I would qualify to compete. But, 5th in the world at U20’s is still makes me smile but time to push again and try the big boys. A big thanks goes out to my sponsors, Liquid Force Kiteboarding, Hampshire Kitesurfing Centre, Tiki wetsuits and Absolute Protein.
Time to get home nice and fast for the second leg of the Pro Mens World Tour event in Leucate. So flight home, then a drive back down to the south of France.
(Words and pictures from George Dufty)