The El Norte was in full swing on the morning of day 4 of the 2019 La Ventana Classic. Winds were firing down the Cerralvo Channel and the shore pound was ramping up when the SUP crew met at Palapas Ventana at 9am to load up the vans and head north to the private resort of Las Cruces where they would begin an intense downwinder to the Hot Springs.
Although several competitors chose not to participate, those who did decide to brave the radical conditions paddled out in heavy winds and close-period overhead surf at the start and continued on with a strenuous 8.4 mile downwind paddle.
Making their way out in pounding beach break and flukey inside winds, foil course racing got underway at the Hot Springs about the same time the Enduro Mountain Bike Race began. Staged on some of La Ventana's world-class mountain biking trails, the Enduro race began at the top of Pista Pista Extrema then connected to Mala Mujer and then to Palapas trail before finishing at the Hot Springs for an estimated 5km technical downhill course in which the descending time is all that counted. French pro rider Yoann Barelli finished first overall followed by Josh d la Salle and then young gun and local El Sargento rider Guillermo Calderon who also took first place in the Youth category. Gabriel Geraldo took second for the Youths followed by Francisco Javier in 3rd.
It looked as though the winds had filled in during the afternoon and officials ran a Competitors Slalom and a Women's Competitors Slalom which both had clean starts with fast and powered riding before moving into Freestyle. Freestyle began with two Sportsmens heats which incorporated a variety of hooked-in airstyle tricks including respectably sized table-tops, big airs, back rolls, tail grabs, stylish frontrolls and kiteloops.
Mid freestyle heats, Fiona Wylde could be seen on the horizon paddling down from Las Cruces. Spectators parted ways and cheered her on as she jumped off her SUP in the shore pound and ran through the arches on the beach to claim victory. Gerry Lopez and Fiona's father, Macrae Wylde, were neck and neck as they approached the Hot Springs, surfing in on the swell, but it was birthday boy Macrae Wylde who claimed second followed by Gerry Lopez in 3rd.
The wind began to let off as the Sportswomens heat went out but they still managed to pull off some airs and backrolls while the Women's Strapless Competitors landed some duck tacks, strapless airs and air transitions.
Men's Strapless Competitors Mac Skaggs, Luis Diego, Reese Myerscough and Leonardo Perez hit the water with bigger kites and although they still struggled with the light and flukey winds on the inside of the Hot Springs, Mac did a few lofty strapless airs over the red buoy on the outside as well as some technical maneuvers on the inside while Luis and Leonardo landed strapless bankrolls and Reese put on a show with a strapless 360 and a toeside 180 olay out.
After Mens Strapless Competitors, it was back to the Sportmen again for their final Freestyle round on the water where they threw backrolls, front rolls, stylish big airs and kite loops on their twin tips.
The wind was quickly fading and during the Women's Competitor Freestyle round they struggled to stay upwind. Sam Chivers found enough wind to throw some powerful unhooked raleys while Rachel Callahan landed a frontroll downloop, Justi Vonada landed a backroll revert transition and Kris Kin just missed the bar on a raley to blind.
The last and final heat of the day was Mens Competitor Freestyle. Making the best of the challenging conditions, Luis Diego, Leonardo Perez, Jack Reider, Shaymus Finley James Dodgshun and Antoine Verville all put up their biggest kites, but when Luis Diego's line popped off his kite within the first 5 minutes of the heat, things started to go downhill. He swam his wet and soggy kite to the beach as other kites dropped from the sky. Justi Vonada from the Women's Competitive category donated her 12m so that Luis could finish the heat. Despite the light wind, the boys put on show and Luis found some puffs of wind to come back with a crowd-pleasing triple backroll triple frontroll combo and an S-Mobe right before Antoine Verville landed a Blind Judge handlepass at the final buzzer.
Raffle winners were called at the beach before everyone headed over to a Baja Joe’s for a night of high voltage rock and roll by AC/DC tribute band BC/DC.
SCHEDULE UPDATE: Sunday, January 20th
Note: All skipper’s meetings take place at the main event site at Hot Springs Beach. *For spectators: condition dependent but discipline should start within the hour of the skipper's meeting.
10:30am - Foil Course Racing Skipper's Meeting
10:30am - Mountain Bike 10K Race
10:30am - SUP meet for 2 mini-downwinders
12:00pm - Mountain Bike Slow Race
12:30pm - Kite and Windsurf Skippers Meeting for Slalom then Freestyle Finals
4:30pm - Grand Finale Raffle
6:30pm - Dalaney's for Awards Ceremony, pizza and music by Stamina Band