Inaugural World Title for KiteFoil Class
Published on September 10th, 2016
The stage is set for the inaugural Formula Kite (Foil) World Championships to be held September 10 to 15 on the butter-flat waters of Weifang Binhai off eastern China.
Fifty-eight riders from 19 countries have assembled to battle for the title, the first since rule changes at the beginning of the year altered class rules to accommodate hydrofoil boards in the fast-shifting environment of kite racing.
Yet even in the “closed” Formula Kite class — which allows the use only of registered production foils — the emergence of fresh shapes have prompted some leading riders to switch from long-favoured brands as they seek any tiny advantage that might give them the edge.
If the mind-boggling speeds of the riders warming up inside the break-waters just off the beach at Binhai are any indicator, the crowds who will surely line the water’s edge over the opening weekend are in for a breath-taking spectacle.
In breezes that barely topped 5kts, groups of riders tested their angles and speeds against their closest rivals. It is a measure of foils’ ever-increasing efficiency, and a clue to their exploding popularity, that even in the zephyr-like airs the riders were topping 25kts.
With light and shifty winds forecast for the six forthcoming days of competition, it will more likely be those who revel in such conditions that stand the best chance of triumphing.
Among the women — who will race as a 13-strong fleet — reigning Formula world champion Elena Kalinina (RUS) much prefers lighter breezes that may give her an advantage over old rival, multiple world champion Steph Bridge (GBR).
It may also help the Russian avenge her defeat at last stop of the Hydrofoil Pro Tour (HPT) at the hands of the up-and-coming 15-year-old Daniela Moroz (USA). The consistently strong breezes in Mauritius had played to the strengths of Moroz, who trains and races in windy San Francisco.
For the men Briton’s Olly Bridge, 18, likes light conditions that suit his style of racing. But arch-rivals, France’s Axel Mazella, also 18, and Maxime Nocher (MON), also go quickly in lighter breezes.
But for Nico Parlier (FRA) — who scored back-to-back victories at HPT stops in strong conditions in Mauritius and San Francisco — the extremely light breezes apparently on offer in the coming days may not be quite to his liking.