Steps toward Formula Kite World titles
Published on November 22nd, 2017
Muscat, Oman (November 22, 2017) – After two days of competition, the Formula Kite World Championships took a step today as the 52 male riders were divided into three fleets, with the top group stacked with the world’s fastest kite racers to battle the rest of the way for the title.
France’s Nico Parlier dominated in breezes that freshened and hovered between 9 and 11 knots for much of the day off Muscat’s Al Mouj Beach on the Gulf of Oman, framed by a dramatic mountain backdrop.
On smooth waters, Parlier was pushed all the way by his friend and countryman Axel Mazella – who managed to overhaul his rival in race one – and Britain’s Olly Bridge. Often with just metres between them, the three had thrillingly-close finishes after high speed sub-eight minute laps of the race track.
In the women’s fleet of six, the reigning International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) Formula Kite World Champion Daniela Moroz, from the US, showed she is human after all when she missed out on winning two of today’s five races. The 16-year-old’s superiority on the leaderboard is so dominant, however, that a second and third place, plus a hat-trick of wins, was enough to cement her top spot.
The epic day was marked by fractious drama on the water when reigning IKA Formula Kite World Champion Maxime Nocher, from Monaco, collided with a number of other riders while on port tack.
The incident, the subject of a number of protest hearings in the jury room, forced the USA’s Riley Gibbs and France’s Theo Lhostis to withdraw from racing for the rest of the day. While they were granted redress, Nocher took his penalty and stayed off the water for the remainder of the day.
After the racing tomorrow, the top 10 men will compete for the title in the medal series on day five.
On the basis of Parlier’s near-peerless day, riding on his biggest 19m kite, he would appear to be in the box seat for the title. At one time, Parlier struggled in lighter breezes that perhaps favoured lighter rivals, but he now appears to have mastery of all conditions.
“It’s definitely been a little bit tighter today,” said Parlier. “It’s mostly between me and Axel Mazella as usual, but now that we’re competing with Olly Bridge and some other good riders, it changes everything.”
As overnight leader, Bridge, who had been competing in a different fleet in the opening qualifying series, knew he would have his work cut out for him with the French duo in the mix. He finished in second place on the leaderboard, splitting the pair.
“It’s definitely been more difficult today,” he said. “But I’m getting better. Nico Parlier is just very, very fast. Upwind, downwind, everywhere. But with Axel Mazella, I’m quite close, so I am happy with things.”
Racing continues with the Opening Series from November 20 to 23 before the Medal Race Series on November 24 will decide about the final podium places.