Pro riders push for further growth of kiteboarding

Posted on January 12, 2017

WITH the Philippines boasting of “amazing conditions” for kiteboarding, international professional riders are throwing their support behind efforts to further the growth of the sport in the country.

International kiteboarders (L-R) Eric Rienstra of the US, Paula Rosales of the Philippines, Manuela Jungo of Switzerland and James Boulding of the UK at the press conference for the second staging of the Blue Palawan International Kiteboard Open on Tuesday in Makati City.
Speaking at the press conference of the second staging of the Blue Palawan International Kiteboard Open the other day, some of the best kiteboarders in the world spoke on how the Philippines has the potential to be a huge kiteboarding destination and talent source.

“Kiteboarding in the Philippines is very popular. We have one of the best, if not the best, spots for the sport in Asia. We started in Boracay around 12 years ago. Then it has spread to other parts of the country, including now in Palawan,” said Blue Palawan’s Paula Rosales, a Filipino pro rider and one of the movers behind the Kite Open, during the press conference.

She was seconded by Swiss kiteboarder Manuela Jungo, who highlighted some of the qualities that make the Philippines suitable for their sport.

“The Philippines is one of the best for kiteboarding. It offers good winds and flats and a lot riders feel the same way. Amazing conditions,” she said.

While kiteboarding in the country has steadily grown throughout the years, Ms. Rosales admitted that the skill level of Filipinos in it is not yet comparable to most of the international riders but she believes that with constant exposure to the sport and more knowledge on it, it will only be a matter of time before Filipino riders figure more prominently in the sport.

“We are not yet there on the level of riding of these professionals. But we are a slowly getting there, finding our niche in kiteboarding,” said Ms. Rosales.

“We have our own Philippine Kiteboard Tour sponsored by ICTSI of Mr. Enrique Razon, we have our first Red Bull-sponsored rider in Christian Tio and Kiteboard Asia has been here for a while now,” she added, describing some of the significant events happening in the local kiteboarding scene.

The second edition of the Blue Palawan International Kiteboard Open happens next month at Blue Palawan in Puerto Princesa with qualifiers set for Feb. 6 and 7.

The qualifiers are open to anyone who wants to showcase and pit their skills with other riders with the top two men and two women after joining the invited 24 riders for opening celebrations and will collectively compete for their chance at the title during the main event happening from Feb. 8 to 16.

Unlike in usual wake parks that use cables, the Palawan event uses a kite as a means of power, which is but fitting since “Blue Palawan is essentially a giant swimming pool with wind,” organizers said.

They further said that for the event, which is now part of the popular Kite Park League Tour, they are expecting some 50 riders for the competition.

Up for grabs in the Kiteboard Open is over $20,000 in prizes made possible with support from partners like Solaire Resort and Casino, Department of Tourism and the Razon Group.

Also at stake are world rankings.

Following the Palawan stop, the tour moves to the United States, Russia and United Kingdom.

“Kiteboarding is still a small sport in the general scheme of things but it’s an interesting sport. The Kite Open is a great opportunity to show people what the sport has to offer particularly here the Philippines,” Ms. Jungo said.

“It’s nice to learn the sport of kiteboarding, especially in Palawan with all its ideal conditions. We have a traditionally good sailing culture here that we forgot and it’s about time to share it,” Ms. Rosales, for her part, said. -- Michael Angelo S. Murillo