Stop 4 of the PKA (Philippine Kiteboarding Tour) Cagbalete Island – the final stop , a TRIPLE win in the overall tour.
Yep, another stop, the last one and yes, I was supposed to go home before this stop. Enjoy a few hours of Holland and drive to France for some snow together with friends. Perfectly planned, I thought so. Let the last stop of the PKA secretly pass, in silence. But you know what? that didn`t really happen this way…. Plans are made to change, so a week before the event I (finally) changed my mind, booked my flight ticket straight to Switzerland (just needed a small ride to France (– the snow was calling as well). From Cagbalete Island I had to go straight to the airport, and straight from the plane to the slopes, is the new plan, sound good is it?
So let’s goooo, next travel adventure a trip to Cagbalete Island. What I find the strangest about his Island, every time I tell a Pilipino that I will go to the island they will look at me if I am crazy, where? What are you talking about.. eeuh well, I am talking about another boat ride of 10 hours, a short boat ride with a small boat and a van ride in between. If you do not count the way from Cuyo Island. However, that is an easy one now, traveling this road “only” for the fifth time in three months Not sure if it says something but they remember my name at the boat ticket office of Cuyo – Iloilo and opening already the doors for all the big boardbags. They should provide a membership for this route.
We made it to the port of Caticlan in one night and one day, the place where the big boat leaves the next day to Batangas. We choose this route to stay the longest time as possible on Cuyo (to kite) and to join the group of participants travelling from Caticlan to Cagbalete. Spending one day in Caticlan, packing my bags properly, becoming best friends with the security guard of the supermarket, getting free clothes as change in the shop next doors and receiving free ice cream in return for a picture, a well spent day I think .
The next day the boat is supposed to leave at 8:00 in the morning, we had to be at the port by 6:00 (Pilipino –time ). The boat really, really left somewhere around 13:00 in the afternoon (after some technical issues etc. etc.). At least I can say, I never had such a nice birthday.. the whole day on the boat, walking in between the beds and studying (you need to do something, the 10 hours on a boat- if you don’t like to sing karaoke all day long ) . Around 23:00 we arrived in Batangas, after finding all the boardbags, we played the famous kiteboarding travel game “ boardbag tetris” again to get everything in the vans. Ready for another 4/3 hour ride to the port of Mauban. Here we arrived at 2:30 PM for a few hours of sleep before we had to go to the small boat bringing us to Cagbalete Island. Since all our stuff was in the van with boardbags or better underneath the boardbags … shampoo, toothbrush and clothes, all on the bottom, luckily some guys were better prepared than the girls
The high tide is in the morning, in order to catch the high tide we left 6:00 in the morning to the port. After loading all the gear on the boat, we could go. Some rain (finally a good use for my winter jacket), some small waves and sun on the end of the 50 minutes boat ride. We arrived just too late to catch the highest tide and we had to unload the “ big” boat to another smaller and flat bottom boat, this one could bring us closer to the island. Unless that, we still had to walk a few meters. Luckily, some people needed a workout to carry all our gear and my “boardbag” (also known as my house) to the shore. Thanks guys!!
Last year when we arrived here, we learned to screw our expectations down for accommodations (and everything else?). So this year we didn`t booked anything, no expectations, I brought a hummock… After all it seemed they improved a bit and there are even real beds and a “shower”, toilet inside.. and a mirror. So decision made, since I had to fly the Monday after the event it would be nice to have some dry gear and luggage.
Today is the registration day, no wind yet, so time for our own touristic tour on the island, a walk to the “town”. A nice road, with water up until our knees brought us to the “town” and some surprised faces.. if it was the look at three white people getting there or our legs covered in mud…We got greeted friendly and found a nice small bakery, with some local specialty’s, we stopped at the local school and…just look at the pictures what happened On the way back we found more food and with hands full walking back over the beach. Surprised that we did feel some wind…Perfect for a 12m session, even that good that we almost forget the registration before 17:00. After the registration, it was time for the opening and a nice dinner all together.
Next morning an early skippers meeting and with early I mean: a sunrise skippers meeting. Unfortunately, no wind in the morning and in the afternoon some wind but no water. With full moon.. the tides are always really high and really low and usually, the wind is not that reliable, a challenge for this weekend. When the water came back, we tried starting the hangtime, after one heat the wind died again, dinner (and study) time again!
Next day an early skippers meeting again , surprisingly some wind…. everything was setup for the race, we tried to start, but no, not enough wind after trying twice with the 15m, not getting anywhere. I decided no this is not going to work for me. In addition, the tide is going down too… So, we did a nice sightseeing trip, snorkeling to the reef. Explore the unknown and the story behind the fisherman, the real story behind the fish catches, behind the fish you find on the plate for dinner or in the local market…..
After this, the wind was still not in our favor and giving the organization a hard time again to make the decision and: Only one day is left, do we really have to finish it all the last day? Again?
The last day, yes, as usual an early skippers meeting again. And.. wind, not that much yet but enough to do something. Starting with the race, followed by hangtime and ended up with freestyle. Did we make it all the way?
The racing was slightly different this time; we had to race with the man in one fleet, makes it more exciting and unpredictable. (Eventually we will be scored only with the woman). The first race didn`t went the way I want it… the 15m foil kite was maybe a bit too much (or my downloop skills with twintip not yet developed that good – most likely ). For some reason I also got stuck behind another kiter at the start. Trying to pass upwind.. Was not possible, downwind also not,with sending his kite to low (and me scared to tangle the 15m). So back upwind it was again, finally just before the first mark I managed to pass him, the rest of the fleet was already too far away. And for another reason, I couldn`t downloop around the mark because his kite was there again.. but he after this I had free way to the third and last mark. Ending up… somewhere in the b-final for the first time this event. This time (in the b-final) I was prepared not to get stuck behind slower riders and made sure I was up front, and just perfect in time and on speed for the starting signal (my best start ever during the PKA season). The whole race I was just behind the first rider in front of me, without downlooping my kite (because I was scared to end up to far downwind again, need to ride upwind or .. and lose my second place…something to work on). Entering the finish line I could almost pass him, was not even one second difference… It was a nice, FUN race this time! Walking out of the water, secretly happy and knowing the race is over, I got told that the first rider is disqualified by starting to early. I won this race.
Next- up is the hangtime, as we all know, in 10 knots (it really felt like 5 knots) of wind… I am always on the level of not even going in the water with a twintip (with a hydrofoil oke!). Since it started to rain and I wanted to bring the 15m dry to the airport the next day, I packed that one. It sounds big a 15m, but the usual size of the hangtime is 18m these days. Luckily I found a nice participant on the beach who was kind enough to borrow me his 18m. Thank you for that !! Although it’s not my specialty…. I went for my light- wind (no – wind) hangtime heat…… and did the best the conditions allowed, having FUN!
After this, we continued with the freestyle. Since I was already pre-qualified, my heat was some time away. Before the girls quarter finals could continue, we run out of water. The low tide was there, not enough water and searching for a contestable spot for a freestyle box further out, ended without success. We had to wait until high tide.. That means later and later ( I already see myself packing my bags later and later). Surprisingly the wind stayed and the water came back. For the first time I could pump my own 10m bandit for a competition….I actually used it my first heat. After that I had to switch to the 12m bandit, while the wind slowly dropped in the last heat. We finished it in the corner almost on the beach and on each other. It was not my best heat ever, needed a 100 attempts to finally land the back to blind, and ended the last minute with a nice crash… making my kite wet before bringing it home… but hey, we had FUN and we could kite!
Before the awarding, not knowing exactly how I did and with the knowledge I didn`t do that well as the last three stops… I didn`t regret my choice to stay and participate this final stop. I had a lot of FUN, seeing some old friends, some new friends and did the last warm water kite sessions with a smile (well… with the fact accepting that I missed two snow days). The PKA- also showed that competing is not always against each other, it’s also about teamwork and respect. Borrowing bigger boards and kites from other participants, completing the competition and finishing my heats in every discipline, alone I wouldn’t have made it. Supporting your opponents and still being friends, helping each other out. And eventually having dinner all together. This evening we wrapped up the PKA season 5 with first the event winners and then the overall winners of the tour:
For me this event:
1st in freestyle
3rd in racing
3rd in hangtime.
Overall I did it bit better…
1st in freestyle
1st in hangtime (!)
1st in race
Think the year 2018 started quit well for me! Never expected to win all three overall disciplines after all the snow and study adventures in between. Hard work pays off
A big thanks to the PKA – Philippine Kiteboarding Association for the good job organizing… Even thought the weather was not always on our side.
Big hug for everyone helping me out with even bigger kites and boards to help me finish the competition …
…..but now it’s time to pack! In the dark exactly how I not like it (not), still wet kites and of course not drying in the middle of the night next to the ocean ( ). So at 3PM I decided to put them in the bag, just compensated the extra kg`s with hand luggage…eventually with some help, everything found a place in the bags and ready to go Home! O noo wait ready to go to France!
Next morning we left with the boat, back to the port of Mauban again, this time with the super high tide, so no workout with the big bags. The vans were already waiting to drive straight to Manila, the airport. That’s it, goodbye warm water sessions, goodbye and thank you Philippines! Until next season?
ParII – coming soooooooooon
Pictures by the PKA – Media team
Zander servando from Arkimagine Multimedia Studios
Michael eijansantos from my life on board