In a difficult year, disrupted by the health care crisis, sporting events are one of the categories that has suffered the most. Restrictive rules and continuous bans have discouraged most of the organizers from giving life to their events.
One of the few competitions to have been confirmed in the kite industry, and which has been successfully held, is LORDS OF TRAM.

What is Lords of Tram?

Lords of Tram is a pro-invitational Big Air kitesurfing competition, organized by Tristan Hattu. This means that riders are chosen by the event based on their qualities, their performance during the year, and their future potential.

Launched last year, it has already been a great success and has established itself as the only true Big Air competition in France, aiming to affirm the level of young French talents and attract the world’s best athletes to compete in the challenging conditions of Gruissan’s Tramontane.

The competition is launched when there is a minimum of 25-30 knots and the goal is to perform a given number of maneuvers (6 or 7) on which the riders will be judged with a score ranging from 0 to 10. Only the best 3 or 4 will be retained and added together will give the final score that will decide the winner. In this way we, as judges, have the possibility to focus on the single trick of the single rider.
The judging takes into account both technique and risk-taking, contrary to the KING OF THE AIR (KOTA) format which gives 70% of the importance to the height of the jump.
LORDS OF TRAM has therefore decided not to adhere to the KOTA format, in order to have a better judgment method and because it is necessary to adapt to the conditions of the South of France. The North wind, in fact, unlike the wind in South Africa, is gustier and influences the height of the jumps too much.

Choosing a format and satisfying all the riders is not easy, especially in a competition like LORDS OF TRAM, which brings together some of the best international riders and where the stakes are high.
But I’m happy to say that the format has been appreciated.

Lords-of-Tram-kiteloop one foot
Lords-of-Tram-late-back

The importance of Lords of Tram

Kitesurfing is not a very represented sport and the competitions are not many. To have the courage and ambition to create an event of this scale and boost the dynamics of our sport is a difficult challenge driven by passion.

Each competition is therefore crucial for riders as it is one of the most important ways to get noticed, earn a living, negotiate with sponsors and gain international influence.

This year’s LORDS OF TRAM was a success, and I’m happy to claim it. In addition to outstanding images, to get a result, and to the north wind that gave us extreme conditions as we had hoped, LORDS OF TRAM reached an unexpected accomplishment….
The three riders on the podium, respectively Arthur Guillbert, Val Garat and Edgar Ulrich have been admitted to King of The Air 2021, as well as Angely Bouillot, who also participated in the event.
This is a true testimony to the level of competition!

A moment of sharing

LORDS OF TRAM is important because it gathers us together.
Most of us, riders, organizers, and passionates of this discipline, work in the kite world, often in different places and with different tasks, and Lords of Tram is therefore a way to reconnect.
And the moments are not missing.
The many breaks due to the lack of wind, which is normal in a week-long event, or simply in the evening after a day of rush and competition, are ideal moments to hang out, strengthen our relationships, or create new ones.

The common thread that facilitates communication is a common passion. A burning passion that motivates each of us to give our best, to participate and help the organization, because we all want it to work out, for the good of our sport.

This implies the maximum willingness of riders to adapt to the demands of the organization and staff (even volunteers) to take care of different tasks for the sole purpose of sharing, helping, and making sure that the competition is a success and that it can persist over time.

Lords-of-Tram-sharing

What it means to me to judge Lords of Tram

Judging a competition like this is a great challenge, because as I explained in the previous paragraphs, the level is extremely high, and the stakes are considerable.

To compete for the title of “lord” there are the best riders of the world freestyle tour, important names who have already participated in the KING OF THE AIR, but also young people less known, but no less talented, thirsty for success.
Each one has a great desire to win, some to confirm their status as professionals, others to show themselves up to the situation.
In this combination of athletes finding a way to determine who is the winner is not always so obvious.

  • TO SHOW IMPARTIALITY

My role, as a judge, is to be as objective as possible, noting trick after trick, comparing similar jumps and trying to forget who is the rider performing it, aware that when the athlete’s name is important, the pressure increases.

I am not a robot and like everyone else I have my preferences, in terms of style and execution. In addition, the world of kiting is relatively small, and I therefore find myself judging my friends, riders I appreciate, potentially people I don’t get along with, and the difficulty lies in abstracting from all this and thinking of the rider as a number and judging him only for his maneuver, and not for who he is.
Thus, the most important work must take place before the competition: during the meetings between the Director of the competition, head judge and judges, in which must be established the format (categories, method of evaluation, etc..) that will then be communicated in the briefings and that will be used as a guideline for judging and to which we must stick. It will then be up to the riders to understand it and adapt to it.

But we all know how boring riders can be in certain situations. The extreme conditions, the tension that increases, the high stakes, the desire to do well, etc., means that you may receive all kinds of complaints (the wind is not good, when is my turn, I didn’t see the flag, why was I judged like this, I didn’t understand the rule, etc.) and this creates additional stress. But it is necessary not to be influenced by it and to remain impartial!

  • TO SHOW COHESION

My goal as a judge at LORDS OF TRAM is not only to write down some notations on a piece of paper, but to create cohesion with the organization on one hand, and with the riders on the other.
The cohesion with the organization comes from the desire to do a common project, knowing that there will be some tough decisions to make, potentially not easy for the riders to digest. But our support, as judges, must never be missing.
Cohesion with the riders to establish a relationship of trust by showing our awareness that these competitions are made primarily for them, as well as to show the beauty of our sport and make it evolve, and that we aim to put our skills at their service.

It is necessary to reiterate, that the judges’ tower remains one of the nodal points for the execution of the competition and it is necessary to trust in our work, conscious of the fact that we are human and that some decisions are susceptible to error.
Complaints or comments from participants about the way we judge are and will always be heard, because it is through communication and dialogue that we can improve and find what works best for this format. Genuine and constructive interaction allows the smooth running and evolution of the competition.

  • FULFILLING EXPECTATIONS

Each judge is and must be chosen for his or her individual qualities, but more importantly, it is necessary to assemble a team that is capable of homogenous and coherent judging.
The expectations on the judges’ work are high, because it is on us that the final result depends.

This year I was joined by Nico Delmas and Jessy Bignon.
We combined three similar but different judging styles.
Similar because we have a common guideline defined by mutual agreement during the meetings, but also and especially because we are open to dialogue and discussion on almost every trick, especially when the discrepancy of judgment is relevant, different because each of us has a specific expertise: Nico is the Freestyle specialist, Jessy is the Big Air one, and I was chosen for my critical spirit of analysis, which is also effective to mediate the two points of view and give a balance to the notations.

My analytical spirit evolves more and more thanks to my interest for all kind of kite competitions, thanks to years of teaching and coaching, thanks to my participation as a judge in various contests (big air, freestyle, strapless), and thanks to my interest for this sport.
I know that Tristan is counting on me and I think it is important to fulfill his expectations, as well as those of all riders. This is a source of motivation and pushes me to do my job with passion, which always brings positive results.

So, judging LORDS OF TRAM is about being able to cope with pressure and make important decisions in a short time, it’s about being both observant and analytical, it’s about being able to be clear in explaining the format and expectations of the competition, and all of this sounds in part like my routine as a kite coach and instructor, which is why I am at ease.

Lords of Tram - The Judges' tower

The Judges’ tower

This year I have been judging with Jessy Bignon and Nico Delmas, but we also had Emy (the kiné), Chris and JM (KGB representatives), who helped us to manage the flags, essential to point out the rider on duty, and who brought us drinks and food when we were forced to stay for hours at our place.
We had fun, rest and rush times together, and we always faced them with a smile.

Our strength was a constant help for each other in rush moments, a constant exchange of ideas without prejudice, and a willingness to have fun and decrease tension whenever the situation arose.
Incredible maneuvers but also many falls and questionable strategic choices kept us laughing and thrilled, and I am truly glad to have shared my seat with them this year.

Every decision was made individually but discussed together so that we were always on point.
Nico and Jessy are two competent and helpful people, I enjoyed working with them.

Finally, this year the judges’ tower managed to keep a connection and a direct response of the riders’ feelings thanks to the great organization of Tea, Tristan’s right-hand woman. Running from one side to the other she managed to make sure we didn’t miss anything and made our job easier!

Conclusion

LORDS OF TRAM is a competition that goes beyond the rules and shows the unique conditions that the South of France reserves for big air kitesurfing.
LORDS OF TRAM provides a spectacle out of the ordinary thanks to the level of riders chosen by invitation.
LORDS OF TRAM is an explosive mixture of young and talented riders who duel on equal terms with the big names of world kitesurfing.

A big up to Tristan who managed to create this reality and I wish long life to this event with the hope that it doesn’t lose its authenticity.

For those who want to see some action, don’t miss the video! Enjoy.

Photos and Video by ZoumProd.

GRAZIE PER AVER LETTO