Saturday, January 27, 2007

Windsurfing Madness in Pahang - International Monsoon Madness at Balok

Flying in the air: A contestant of the kitesurfing event showing off his skills.
PAHANG started the Visit Malaysia 2007 campaign with the International Monsoon Madness at Balok which saw 60 participants from 13 countries taking part in three days of thrilling windsurfing events.

The competition was organised by the state government through Fraser’s Hill Development Corporation (PKBF) with the cooperation of West Coast Windsurfing Association (WCWA).

It had three formats - high speed downwind, slalommasterblast high speed and Foster’s Killer-Loop.

In the third format, participants have to hit the biggest wave at top speed, jumping between 6m and 10m into the air and then perform a 360-degree forward loop.

The competition was divided into five categories - Open, Malaysian, Masters, Ladies and Kitesurfing.

This year’s event was held from Jan 18-20 at the Balok Water Recreation Centre.

In recent years, windsurfing has become a popular offshore water sport among local surfers. It was started as a sport by a group of windsurfing enthusiasts from Kuala Lumpur who tried the game in Balok during the monsoon season in the early 1980s.

They found out that the open water with wind speed of between eight knots and 20 knots per hour was suitable for windsurfing and they have been coming to Balok on a regular basis.

The locals called the surfers a bunch of mad people for their zealousness in the strong wind and open sea during a time when most people avoid coming to the east coast to stay away from the heavy rain and the possibility of getting stuck due to floods.

Strong arms: A participant in the windsurfing category muscling through the wind and waves.
However, the group decided to call their yearly visit as the Monsoon Madness Windsurfing Challenge.

It graduated into an international event known as the International Monsoon Madness Windsurfing Challenge and grew steadily during the 1980s and 1990s, attracting major sponsors, media coverage and culminating in the Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA) holding major World Cup events in Kuantan in 1990, 1992 and 1993.

The WCWA was formed in 1994 to further develop and promote the sport and among its objectives are to put windsurfing within the reach of all Malaysians, identify and train potential sailors for major regional games and the Olympics 2008 and attract PWA back to Malaysia.

It has included kite-surfing and this has been a competitive event over the past three years.

Youths and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman opened this year's competition on Jan 18.

State Culture, Arts and Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Maznah Mazlan said she was happy with how the competition had turned out and the number of spectators it attracted.

“The number of participants was double that of last year’s competition while the spectators who came increased as well.

“This is good because we want locals to appreciate and learn about the sport as well,” she said in an interview.

She noted that the sport was an expensive one and suggested, if the items could be rented, it might help those interested in windsurfing to pursue it at a lower cost.

Another way of addressing the matter was for the Government to provide assistance to enhance and promote the activity, she added.

The winner of the Open category was Jesper Orth from Denmark, second placing went to Poland's Pawel Hlavaty while Dan Ellis from England took home the third prize.

In the Malaysian category, the first, second and third winners were Yeap Leong Soon, Leo Leow and Kenny Heng, respectively.

Victorious: Winners of the Open category posing with Mirza Mohammad Taiyab (wearing batik shirt) and Siti Rahmah Ahmad (wearing baju kurung).
The Master category was won by Japanese Masato Ogawa, Yeap was placed second while Yasuyuki Onoguchi came in third.

Indonesian lass Yuni Trisnowati was the champion in the Ladies category with Rachel Charis Ng from Singapore in second place.

The kitesurfing event saw two Thais, Narapichit Pudla and Phaetratsu Phanuwat grabbing first and second placing while Singaporean Aoron Yang settled for third place.

The winners received a total of US$8,100 (RM29,970) in cash.

Source : STAR
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