Arcisz, Maeder & Stragiotti are Kitefoiling Youth World Champions 2022
The final day of the Kitefoiling Youth World Championships delivered drama and an unforeseen but well-deserved result in the girls’ fleet. Light winds made consistent foiling very tough and required the highest level of focus and technical skill from the young riders.
• Nina Arcisz of Poland defies the odds to win the girls’ Formula Kite world title
• An Asian 1-2 for Max Maeder of Singapore and Qibin Huang of China
• Gian Andrea Stragiotti of Switzerland wins the Youth Foil U17 class
• Karolina Jankowska of Poland is female champion in the Youth Foil U17.
Formula Kite U21 (Female)
Nina Arcisz of Poland saved her best for last. She had never really looked like a serious contender for the world title but the Medal Series format gave her and the rest of the top 10 a shot at the podium.
The previous day Arcisz had looked among the fastest downwind with her purple Ozone kite. Yesterday she made that downwind edge work to her advantage, along with her aggressive moves in tight spots on the race course. Every time she entered close-quarters combat with one of her rivals Arcisz always emerged on top.
Arcisz battled her way out of her side of the Semi-Finals draw to overtake Polish teammate and last year’s world champion Julia Damasiewicz to earn her place in the four-board Final.
Meanwhile in the other Semi-Final, Italy’s Sofia Tomasoni fought her way into the Final to go up against Arcisz and the top two from the qualifying series. Maya Ashkenazi of Israel was wearing the yellow jersey and star of Saturday, Heloise Pegourie of France, was in the blue jersey.
Out of the start in the first Finals race, Tomasoni and Arcisz foiled into the left-hand corner of the beat while Ashkenazi and Pegourie tacked over to the right-hand side near the shore, only to discover the wind had almost evaporated. The Israel and France kites fluttered helplessly to the water while Italy and Poland cruised past in better breeze on the far side. Tomasoni and Arcisz duelled all the way around the course with the Italian taking the win.
Ashkenazi and Pegourie could never find their top gear when it mattered the most, while the two Semi-Final qualifiers set the pace all afternoon in the light and fickle breezes in the Gulf of Oristano. Twice Tomasoni was ahead of Arcisz but the Italian couldn’t quite match the superior downwind speed and layline judgement of the Polish rider.
Arcisz sailed out of her skin all day, overtaking Tomasoni in two consecutive races to win the world title. The Polish rider was lost for words when she stepped ashore. All she could find were tears of disbelief and overwhelming joy. “The wind was very difficult but somehow I won the World Championships. How did that happen!” she cried. She had risen to the pressure and the occasion and beaten her rivals fair and square. Ashkenazi was sad to have fallen to silver and the same for Pegourie in bronze. While the final day hadn’t worked out for Israel or France, they had won their medals for a phenomenal week of performance even if the final day didn’t work out for them. Tomasoni, after sailing so well and being such a close match for Arcisz all day, ended up in fourth.
Formula Kite U21 (Male)
Max Maeder won the world title, as many might have expected. But after a disastrous start to the Final, the Singaporean superstar admitted that his hopes for the world title were hanging by a thread. Just as the top two qualifiers in the girls’ fleet had seen their kites flutter to the water by hitting the right-hand side of the treacherous race course, so too did Maeder and fellow Final qualifier Riccardo Pianosi of Italy choose the wrong side of the first upwind leg.
Having earned their place in the Final after winning their respective sides of the Semi-Finals battle, Qibin Huang of China and Arthur Lehz of France raced for the first win. Huang took the winner’s gun before a halt in proceedings as the breeze disappeared for an hour from the race course.
The break from competition gave Maeder time to get his head back in the game and when the battle resumed, this time the Singaporean didn’t falter. He took the lead from Huang while Pianosi struggled through a tack and Lehz suffered a seaweed wipeout while trying to protect an early race lead on the first downwind leg.
Maeder won the race and took the world title. Huang’s second place across the line lifted the Chinese to silver medal position, relegating Pianosi to bronze. Maeder was relieved to have survived and won the world title that looked destined to be his all week. “It was a difficult last day, there was a lot of luck involved this week and sometimes it was about whether the luck went your way or for someone else,” said the Singaporean, who was delighted to see Huang finish in silver. “Asia has done well and I hope it inspires other Asians to get involved in this amazing sport.”
Youth Foil U17 (Boys & Girls)
There wasn’t enough wind to get the Youth Foil U17 on the water yesterday, so Gian Andrea Stragiotti of Switzerland was crowned the world champion ahead of last year’s winner from Poland, Jan Koszowski, with bronze also going to Poland, Jakub Balewicz. It was also a Polish success story in the female division, the title going to Karolina Jankowska. The Youth Foil class is less than two years old but it is growing all the time, providing a great entry-level opportunity for young riders who want to work their way through to the high-performance Formula Kite.
Despite the light winds on the final day, Torregrande on the west coast of Sardinia delivered excellent foiling conditions throughout the competition. The kitefoiling calendar is getting to its busiest period of the season with competitions coming in quick succession, from Amsterdam to Lake Garda in Italy and Lake Traunsee in Austria all taking place in the next month.
Formula Kite Male
1. SGP Maximilian Maeder
2. CHN Qibin Huang
3. ITA Riccardo Pianosi
Formula Kite Female
1. POL Nina Arcisz
2. ISR Maaya Ashkenazi
3. FRA Heloise Pegourie
Full results: www.formulakite.org
A's YouthFoil U17
1. SUI Gian Andrea Stragiotti
2. POL Jan Koszowski
3. FRA Enzo Louber
A's YouthFoil U15
1. POL Jakub Balewicz
2. POL Jan Koszowski
3. ITA Julio Houze
A's YouthFoil Female
1. POL Karolina Jankowska
2. ITA Maddalena Maria Spanu
3. ESP Eider Berakoetxea Alba
Full results: www.youthfoil.org