The final day of the Beetle Kitesurf World Cup carried out with suspenseful racing action and more podium finishes for the top riders in the world. With freestyle and airstyle disciplines completed, racing became the one and only focus. Competitors welcomed this last day, as it boasted plenty of onshore wind, which increased into the afternoon.
The first race of the day - race nine - began with 21 racers in the fleet. In 10-13 knots of wind, which began to switch further north, Riccardo Leccese (COL) took an early lead along with Olivier Dansin (FRA) not far behind. The course retained a very long and challenging first tack, and by its end Adam Koch (USA) had pulled ahead, with Leccese, Dansin, and Bryan Lake (USA) trailing.
The first four racers were evenly spread apart until the first leeward mark, at which time, Koch and Leccese raced closer together. Heineken trailed further back than usual, while Koch improved his winning distance after the second to last mark. Meanwhile, Katja Roose (NED) and Christine Bonniger (GER) took part in an incredibly close race. Both made minor mistakes; however, Bonniger came out ahead in the end. Closing in on the finish line first, Koch crossed first, while Lake gained on Leccese, crossing second, followed by Leccese and Dansin.
Race ten continued with consistent wind and fairly choppy conditions. Koch pulled into a clear first place after the first windward mark and was followed by Dansin, Leccese, and Heineken. Towards the first leeward buoy, Koch increased his speed and gained an even greater lead. The, throughout the middle of the race, Dansin made a steady climb, while Leccese and Heineken battled very closely. In fact, for the entire second lap, these two racers were nearly side-by-side in an all out battle for the better position. While lake gained ground in the second lap, he eventually fell further back than usual, and Koch remained in first. In the final moments, Koch crossed first with ease; however, Heineken and Leccese had a photos finish just inches apart - Heineken just barely earning second place before the feisty Columbian.
The eleventh official race was characterized by another early lead by Koch, who had commented earlier that he had spent the entire night prior tuning his gear. Obviously benefiting from whatever changes he made, Koch stayed strong in this position for some time, until succumbing to Lake after the first leeward mark. On the second lap, first, second, and third place racers stayed very close up through the windward mark, wherein Lake and Koch separated from the rest of the fleet with substantial distance. Bonniger and Roose also fought closely once again, racing incredibly well and challenging each other around every buoy. Once the end was near, Lake and Koch turned out to be extremely far ahead, followed by Heineken and Dansin. Bonniger earned first place in this race, with Roose and Goma behind.
Race twelve carried on with similar results, yet interestingly enough, no single racer dominated completely as Lake did on the previous competition day. In this battle, Lake remained in first from the beginning. Somewhat expectedly, Heineken, and Koch trailed just after. By the time the first racers entered into the second lap, Heineken gained a closer proximity to Lake, while Dansin and Florian Gruber (GER) stayed consistently just behind Leccese. With little time to spare, Koch pulled ahead of Heineken just before the second to last mark, finishing second behind lake and in front of Heineken. This also stood out as one of the closest women's races of the day as Katja won for the third time since the morning began.
Finally, the last race of the entire competition was on deck. For many of the top racers, including the women, this race would decide final placement. Many competitors remained just points away from their fellow racers. As such, some different strategies and tactics made this race the most interesting so far. Leccese and Heineken led the fleet in the beginning, while Gruber and Roose took a different approach on the port tack. Most other racers took a very late tack, sticking together. Surprisingly, around the first windward mark, Gruber took the lead, as did Katja Roose, while Lake moved into second at the leeward buoy. Dansin also moved steadily up in the fleet, ultimately finishing third, while Gruber achieved his first, first place finish of the event, with Leccese in second and Dansin in third.
In recalling the last great days of highly competitive course racing, both Florian and Katja had much to say. Gruber commented, "The conditions were good at this event - not too strong and not too light. In the future it could be fun to add a slalom element to the course, but I was pleased with the racing here in St. Peter-Ording and I look forward to coming back next year."
Katjya also revealed that this event was quite a challenge for her, as she had a strong competitor and on the first day, her gear wasn't quite where she wanted it too be. Going on, she said, "Christine and I raced so close together that the last race was the one that decided the ultimate winner. Because of this, I took a big risk and started on port, along with Gruber, and it ended up paying off! Sometimes, if you start on port and the fleet comes too early, you are stuck in a very bad position, but this time it worked and I am really happy about it."
Overall, the Beetle Kitesurf World Cup proved to be a giant success, with major wins and amazing on-water battles. In every discipline, the best of the best showcased their incredible talent, eventually revealing the deserving champions and podium placers. After yet another year in the ideal location of St. Peter-Ording, and after crowning the winners at the giant village stage, one might be tempted to ask - who will win next year?
1. Bryan Lake (USA)
2. Riccardo Leccese (COL)
3. John Heineken (USA)
1. Katja Roose (NED)
2. Christine Bonniger (GER)
3. Nuria Goma (ESP)