Heinekens win KiteFoil Gold Cup finale
Published on October 12th, 2015
From October 8-12, the worlds best hydro-foiling kite racers battled it out in Townsville, Australia for the final leg of the 2015 KiteFoil Gold Cup circuit.
Over 4 days, America’s world-class race director Robbie Dean conducted an intense 19 races. The conditions in Townsville were tough, with a high pressure dominating over the local trade winds producing a challenging short steep 1.5-2m swell and 15-28 knots for most of the competition. Kite choice was an important decision before every race and riders were using kites varying from 7m-15m. On the final day of racing, conditions eased and larger kites came out of the bags. Townsville gave the riders a taste for a perfect local day with blue sky, flat sea and a more favorable wind speed of 15 knots. The racecourse was said to be the best of the 2015 tour, which stopped in Le Ventana (Mexico), Hang Loose Beach (Italy), and San Francisco (USA).
Thirty-six riders represented eleven countries on the start line. Line lengths up to 25 m, and razor sharp foils sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the highly skilled athletes were able to avoid tangles and injuries whilst maintaining high speed starts. The racing was exhilarating to watch. The 4nm windward leeward course were completed by the top of the fleet in 12 minutes, with riders kiting a VMG of an incredible 12 knots upwind and 36 knots downwind.
Johnny Heineken from San Francisco (USA) won the event with 10 bullets, with Maxime Nocher (Monaco) second, and French Junior Axel Mazella in third. Erika Heineken (USA), won the woman’s with Gina Hewson (AUS) in second. Matt Taggart (NZ) won the masters beating overall gold cup Master Benjamin Petit (France).
Kite hydro foiling is an open class with leading kite brands Ozone, F-one, Fly surfer and Elf pushing the development of the kites to higher and higher levels every year. Hydrofoils and boards are becoming smaller, stronger and lighter to meet the requirements for speed, whilst the riders are endlessly fine tuning lines, kite bridles, wings and boards and becoming more skilled in flawlessly riding these hi aspect ratio setups.
Midway through the regatta, some competitors took a well-earned rest day, other international racers and local riders challenged the Sea Link ferry in a race from Magnetic Island to the mainland. Olly Bridge (UK) defeated the kite board verses Ferry challenge, and crossed the line just seconds in front of the SeaLink Magnetic island ferry, which averaged 27 kn across the Ross River Channel.
The Australian kite racing championships were held prior to the hydrofoil gold cup. This was the second Australian foiling championship. It’s fantastic to see how the number and level of the Australian riders has increased in such a short period of time. The men’s foil champion was Marvin Baumeister, the Woman’s foil champion was Gina Hewson, Men’s Foil Master was Matt Taggart, Men’s formula Champion was Jason Cane, and Men’s junior champion was Mani Bishop. With formulae racing becoming a Junior Olympic sport, it’s promising seeing the up and coming Australian juniors hot on the pace.
KiteFoil Gold Cup: http://kitefoilgoldcup.com/
Photos courtesy of Steve McCormack (Ozone) and Matt Roney (Voodoovisions photos)
Report by Gina Hewson