SOME of the world’s top kiteboarders will flock to Palawan this February for the second staging of the Blue Palawan Kite Open.
The qualifiers, to be held at Blue Palawan in Puerto Princesa on Feb. 6 and 7, is the first event of the world renowned Kite Park League Tour.
International riders represented by the USA's Eric James Rienstra, Switzerland's Manuela Jungo, UK's James Boulding and Philippine pride Paula Rosales were at the press conference at the Handle Bar in Makati City on Tuesday afternoon to share why the sport has attracted a growing global following and is set to invade the country’s shores.
Rienstra said the tour’s 'park-style format' has a smaller niche that has attracted an underground community of kite boarders from around the world. The competition will feature three kiteboarding disciplines: course racing, wave riding and tricks. Tricks in turn are classified by freestyle, waves and park.
For Swiss kite boarder Jungo, the Philippines’ ‘amazing natural environment’ has drawn her and her fellow riders to the country to help raise awareness as well as help develop the local talents.
Rosales is one of the major proponents of kiteboarding in the country since it started 12 years ago in Boracay. She travels to different locales looking for ways to establish kiteboarding schools and clinics.
According to Rosales, regular tourists weren’t too keen on visiting Blue Palawan before as the beaches featured powerful winds and waves brought by seasonal weather conditions. But with the growth of kite boarding, tourism has thrived in the area.
“It’s perfect for kiteboarding. Blue Palawan is essentially a giant swimming pool with wind!” said Rosales in describing the venue giving birth to a world class, sustainable kite center and the world’s most tropical kite park.
Kiteboarding is a new discipline being pioneered in Palawan that’s similar to wakeboarding but uses a kite as a means of natural propulsion instead of hydraulic cables found in wake parks.
Boulding said a good number of last year’s riders from 15 countries will be returning to Palawan to showcase their sport in a new destination.
“The level is getting higher and the fact that we are getting major sponsors speaks well of this incredible sport,” Boulding said.
The qualifier is open to anyone and is a chance for enthusiasts to compete alongside some of the top international riders at the world's most tropical kite park. The top two men and two women from the qualifier will join the invited 24 riders and will collectively compete for the chance at the title during the main event to immediately follow the open qualifier from Feb. 8 to 16.
Rosales said they expect more than 50 riders to participate in the 10-day event, compared to 30 last year.
At stake is more than $20,000 in prizes from sponsors that include Solaire Resort and Casino, the Razon Group and the Department of Tourism.
After the Asian leg in Palawan, the tour will head to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, followed by Oregon, Russia and the United Kingdom.
For more information, visit www.bluepalawanopen.com.