Top judge for Cannon Rocks kitesurfing event

JON HOUZET

NICE JOB: Olaf van Tol will be head judge of the Halyards Cannon Rocks Kite-boarding Classic next month, ensuring that competitors get a world class event Picture: SUPPLIED

OLAF van Tol, a recognized judge on the international kitesurfing circuits, will be head judge at the Halyards Cannon Rocks Kite-boarding Classic from January 3 to 6.

Van Tol, a Dutch citizen, has not competed as a kite-boarder himself but spent 14 years on the pro windsurf tour.

“Towards the end of my career, kiting started up and there was no way around it than try it out. I got hooked on the big air part and later the wave riding discipline,” he said.

In 1999 he helped famous international windsurfer Robby Naish launch his kite in Holland during a windsurfing competition.

Van Tol’s interest in kiting started that year as kites became available.

He said kite-boarding was very popular in the Netherlands.

“At one stage it grew like windsurfing did in the 80s. It is still very big and since we have water all over the place there is space for lots of kiters as well,” Van Tol explained.

He started judging on the Professional Windsurfers Association tour in 1999 and his first kite event as contest director was in 2000. In 2003he became an international race officer on the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association (PKRA).

Widely travelled, among the countries he has visited to judge competitions are: Germany, France, Turkey, Morroco, Spain, Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Canary Islands, Greece, Austria, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Canada, Magdalen Islands, Australia, Thailand, New Caledonia and Brazil.

This will be his first visit to Cannon Rocks, “but I was told by some of the competitors that it is one of their top three special places to go to”.

He currently lives in Cape Town.

Among the things he will be looking out for in the Cannon Rocks competition are kiters’ speed performing their moves, power, kite position, style and technical difficulty.

Kite control is paramount, he said.

His advice for amateurs and novices is: “Take the learning curve step by step and learn to make it a reflex to let go of the control bar if things go wrong.”

Van Tol retains an interest in windsurfing, and also enjoys motocross, cars and food.

He is married, with two sons, aged 7 and 11, who accompany him on his travels.

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