Thrillingly-tight contests at KiteFoil World Series final in Italy in punchy Mistral winds
The opening duels of the four-stop KiteFoil World Series final being played out on the Italian resort island of Sardinia threw up breathtakingly-close racing in gusty and shifty Mistral winds that tested even the most experienced athletes.
But with the world title at stake, tour leader Slovenia’s Toni Vodisek, 19, suffered a streak of bad luck, failing to finish either of the day’s last two races after breaking his power line and subsequently his bridles when his 11m kite inverted in the offshore breezes gusting to 28kts.
The teenager had opened his title quest at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam with scintillating racing, lifting two bullets and a second that at one stage took him to the top of the standings in a titanic struggle with France’s Théo de Ramecourt.
De Ramecourt took three bullets from the day’s six races to go top overall and was even able to shrug off a crash on a nail-biting drag race to the finish that saw him eventually cross the line just off Cagliari’s Poetto Beach in fourth.
The Frenchman just lost out in the tense finishing battle with the resurgent fellow countryman Nico Parlier and Britain’s Connor Bainbridge—third and fourth respectively—after battling around the Gulf of Angels track on two lengthy, leg-burning upwind beats.
France’s Axel Mazella was controlled and consistent, picking up a pair of seconds and a trio of thirds, that earned him second spot in the rankings. But with three days of the regatta—sponsored by Regione Sardinia tourism and the City of Cagliari—still run, everything is still to play for.
The women’s series’ leader with three victories, the US’s Daniela Moroz, 18, suffered her own misfortune when she was disqualified from the day’s fifth race for crossing the start line early.
But the four-time Formula Kite world champion is so far ahead in the 24-strong women’s group racing in the mixed fleet of 66, that none seem able to challenge her charge to close out the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) 2019 KiteFoil World Series title race.
Poland’s Julia Damasiewicz, 14, had a stellar outing on her 9m kite, taking two seconds in the women’s group that gave her second spot overall in spite of the gusty and shifty breezes that left her drained at day’s end.
“One of the races was the most difficult of my life,” said Damasiewicz. “As I was going downwind my kite inverted and went down. I fixed it on the water but it took about five minutes and I finished way back. After that I thought ‘it’s the end, I’m done’. But I went out again and I’m happy with my place now.”
Théo de Ramecourt was thrilled with his performance that took him to the top of the order in one of the most competitive fleets assembled to fight for a share of the €20,000 purse at the regatta, organised by Good Looking Entertainment and Yacht Club Cagliari.
“It’s an amazing feeling being able to go so fast on the water,” said De Ramecourt. “We’re all pushing really, really hard. Even if it’s really pretty gusty, the water’s super-flat. This is definitely some of the fastest racing I’ve ever done.”
Mazella, who triumphed at the Formula Kite Europeans last week, agreed with his rival but revelled in the thrillingly-close action with wafer-thin margins separating the top of the order.
“It was really difficult—both the super-high level of the competition and the conditions,” said Mazella. “In the second part of the day the wind got stronger, but I didn’t have time to switch to my 9m kite and continued on the 11m and was very overpowered. Really, really fast—35kts to 37kts downwind. Because it was shifty, I’d make five or six tacks going upwind to get the lifts. I’m happy.”
Top five men after six races (one discard)
1 Théo de Ramecourt (FRA) 11pts
2 Axel Mazella (FRA) 13pts
3 Nico Parlier (FRA) 15pts
4 Connor Bainbridge (GBR) 17pts
5 Maxime Nocher (FRA) 28pts
Top five women after six races (one discard)
1 Daniela Moroz (USA) 83pts
2 Julia Damasiewicz (POL) 116pts
3 Elena Kalinina (RUS) 135pts
4 Ellie Aldridge (GBR) 136pts
5 Leonie Meyer (GER) 143pts
full results: www.kitefoilworldseries.com