Paris 2024 test at Formula Kite Worlds

Published on May 13th, 2024

For the Sailing Program at the Paris 2024 Olympics, the kiteboard events are the most anticipated among the ten competitions. Initially planned for the Rio 2016, the 2012 World Sailing Annual Conference opted to delay their Olympic arrival.

It was a good move, as more maturing was necessary to advance the kite equipment and participation. And then while the kiting community was told in 2018 that they would be in the Olympics, it took until June 2021 for the Paris format to be switched from a mixed event to Men’s and Women’s competition.

While kite course racing was initially developed and dominated by the USA, the strong Olympic sailing nations got to work, with parity now across the course and will be on display at the 2024 Formula Kite World Championships on May 14-19 in Hyères, France.

One hundred twenty-five competitors from 36 nations and every continent will compete at the last big event before kiteboarding debuts at the Paris 2024 Olympics. Elite training has proven that being big is good, so it has been a rush to meet the physical requirements to excel, with the measure coming for 79 men from 32 countries, and 46 women from 25 countries.

Details: https://www.formulakite.org/2024worlds

THE WOMEN:
French rider Jessie Kampman missed out on selection to the Olympics, beaten to the spot by the 2023 World Champion Lauriane Nolot in a fiercely fought French selection that also included Poema Newland. However, on these same waters at the end of April in Hyères, Kampman came away from the French Olympic Week with the gold medal, ahead of Britain’s Ellie Aldridge in silver and Nolot with the bronze.

After making a heroic comeback from what was nearly a career-ending injury last season, Kampman has been more competitive than ever this year. With that said, the French rider admits her preparation for the Worlds has been limited.

“I was always going to do this event,” she smiled. “After all, this is where I live and I just really love kiting and this is a good opportunity to get back on the water. But I don’t feel very prepared to be honest, and I think physically it’s going to be hard again because I really haven’t been training and I’ve lost a bit of weight. But then I don’t have the pressure on me for this event and I just want to enjoy the moment and enjoy the kiting.

“It’s going to be interesting watching the girls this week, the ones going to the Games. Everyone will want to be pushing hard, I don’t think anyone’s going to be lifting their foot off the gas.”

Nolot says her focus is on enjoyment, despite the building pressure of representing France on home waters this summer at the Games. “I want to have great races with the girls, and of course I want to get a second world title, but maybe not as much as I wanted it last year for that first-time win,” she said.

This is also an opportunity to experiment with different tactics and techniques. “I want to be a multi-tasker, try different things, work on different areas of the game. But I also just want to enjoy racing here where I live, to appreciate the support of our local fans out on boats and here on the beach, and all the kids that are coming to visit it us from local schools.”

From further afield beyond Europe are serious contenders for the world title including Australia’s Breiana Whitehead and the six-time World Champion Daniela Moroz from the USA.

But probably the most intriguing athlete to watch at this event will be Elena Lengwiler from Switzerland. At the Last Chance Regatta recently in Hyères, the rapidly improving Swiss rider swept the board and claimed one of the final remaining national spots for the Olympics.

Such has been her progress over the past few months, it’s quite probable Lengwiler will be challenging for a medal at the Worlds. Nolot acknowledged the growing abilities of Lengwiler. “Elena is very fast in a straight line, but if she wins this year I think that’s a bit too easy. We have to make it more complicated for her,” she laughed.

THE MEN:
As for the men, the Worlds offer a final chance for the fleet to challenge Max Maeder on a competitive stage before they line up in July for the Games. The 17-year-old from Singapore has kept on getting better and better and has won most major events of recent times including last year’s world title and this year’s Europeans in Spain. Having dominated the French Olympic Week in April, Maeder is clearly as at home with the conditions in Hyères as anywhere else.

For the men, this is a last chance regatta of another kind, because it’s up to the likes of Slovenia’s Toni Vodisek and France’s Axel Mazella – respectively the silver and bronze medalists at the French Olympic Week – to take the fight to Maeder and prove they are good enough to take the gold.

Vodisek was the 2022 World Champion when he narrowly beat Maeder in Sardinia, and Mazella took gold at the Olympic Test Event last summer, so they both know what it takes to win at the highest level.

Germany’s Jannis Maus is still engaged in a trials for the German Olympic spot, his closest rival also being one of his best friends, Flo Gruber. Maus says the additional pressure of the trial doesn’t really affect him.

“I’m just focusing on myself, building on my recent results at other competitions.” Would it be too much to believe he might be ready to win a Worlds? “I think it is always within reach. But also to be honest, Max [Maeder] is super, super strong. My goal is definitely to get to the final and hopefully maybe bring some points into the final. Then I think in the final, everything can happen. It’s such tight racing on the last day.”

Having grabbed his Olympic spot at the Last Chance Regatta just over two weeks ago, Connor Bainbridge finally has that monkey off his back. The British rider was looking forward to competing at these Worlds knowing he will be representing his country at Paris 2024.

However, while training in Hyères last week with Maeder and pushing himself to the limit, Bainbridge crashed and ended up with carbon splinters in his leg. After completing surgery locally, Bainbridge has gone home to rest up and recover. It’s a sad loss to the event but the British rider will be doing everything to make sure he is back and ready to compete at the Olympics in July.

Details: https://www.formulakite.org/2024worlds


Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Program:
Men’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 7
Women’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 6
Mixed Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFX
Men’s Kiteboard – Formula Kite Class
Women’s Kiteboard – Formula Kite Class
Men’s Windsurfing – iQFOiL
Women’s Windsurfing – iQFOiL
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Venue: Marseille, France
Dates: July 28-August 9

Details:
• Paris website: https://www.paris2024.org/en/the-olympic-games-paris-2024/
• World Sailing microsite: https://paris2024.sailing.org/

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