Softer Winds Shuffle Scores at Formula Kite Worlds
Published on September 14th, 2016
Weifang Binhai, China (September 14, 2016) – Teenage Russian title holder Elena Kalinina stands neck-and-neck with the US rider Daniela Moroz as they enter the final day of competition at the Formula Kite (foil) World Championships.
Kalinina, 18, trumped her even younger rival Moroz, just 15, scoring a perfect four bullets in ultra-competitive racing in breezes that barely topped 8kts blowing over the Yellow Sea’s almost glassy waters off Joy Sea Beach in eastern China.
In the light airs the young foil sensation Moroz trailed in second in each of the day’s four women’s races. It was a complete reversal from earlier in the event when Moroz left Kalinina playing second fiddle in each of their four races in punchy conditions characterised by heavy swells and winds that topped 25kts.
Yet even the light breezes of day five were a welcome break after two lay days at the first
International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) kitefoil worlds when the wind stubbornly refused to kick in even enough for the kitefoilers, who can display blistering pace in barely 5kts, to race.
The 49-strong men’s fleet were seeded into “gold” and “silver” fleets for the medal races after a qualifying series curtailed through lack of wind. The competition in the “gold” fleet’s five races was intense with none of the top riders able dominate, continually swapping places on the leaderboard.
But Nico Parlier (FRA), who topped the leaderboard at the start of the day thanks to a perfect performance on Sunday when he was untouchable in the heavy conditions, found the light breezes not to his liking. On his Mike’s Lab foil and biggest Ozone R1V2 19m kite, Parlier struggled to match the pace of other lighter riders whose style and equipment were better suited the breeze that occasionally dropped as low as 5kts on parts of the windward-leeward track.
Italy’s Mario Calbucci riding a Banga foil and Elf Joker kite mounted a concerted challenge on the leaderboard with several strong early races, but then suffered misfortune when he tangled and his main kite was damaged, which caused him to fail to complete two races. Before his costly mishap left him lying sixth on the leaderboard, despite being given redress for two races, he was buoyant. “For me these conditions are like home in the Adriatic Sea,” he said. “I think on my Banga foil I have the most speed in the field. It’s just that I need to improve tactically.”
Britain’s Olly Bridge, 18, was quick out of the gate and seemed about to notch up a victory in the day’s first when he headed for the finish line, apparently mistakenly believing it to be a two lap race, costing him dearly. But he made up for his error with a clutch of scorchingly-fast races on his Levitaz Bionic foil, scooping a bullet, a second and a third place that left him third overall, just ahead of Florian Trittel (ESP) who was very much in the mix towards the top of the fleet on his KFA Mako foil and Ozone R1V2 kites.
Yet it was the training duo of Maxime Nocher (MON) and Axel Mazella (FRA), victor at the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup opener in Gizzeria, Italy, in July, who respectively topped the standings heading to the closing day’s showdown. On identical F-one Diablo2 kites and Banga foils, Nocher was able to rack up three bullets to beat Mazella’s one. It might have been two, but in the day’s third race he crashed on a blistering reach to the finish when up against Bridge for the win.
“I caught a lot plastic bags in every race,” he said. “In the third race up against Bridge and Nocher I got one and fell and it cost me 20 seconds. But in the end it’s a game, and every rider has the same problems. So, overall I’m happy.”
Kalinina, also a new convert to the Banga foil that appears better suited to light winds, was also happy to reassert herself over her junior rival, Moroz, who pushed the Russian hard. “We’re very close,” said the unflappable Kalinina. “It’s been like a match race with her. We’re covering one another on our tacks and gybes. It’s pretty tactical with the wind, that seems to shift on the right of the course.”
MEN Overall standings after ten races, with one discard:
1 Maxime Nocher (MON, F-One/Banga) — 11pts
2 Axel Mazella (FRA, F-One/Banga) — 18pts
3 Olly Bridge (GBR, Ozone/Levitaz) — 19.5pts
WOMEN Overall standings after eight races, with one discard:
1 Daniela Moroz (USA, Ozone/Mike’s Lab) — 10pts
1 Elena Kalinina (RUS, Elf/Banga) — 10pts
3 Steph Bridge (GBR, Flysurfer/Levitaz) —23pts
text credits: Ian MacKinnon
photo credits: Alexandru Baranescu