China’s Jingle Chen shrugged off her forgettable first foray at the 2019 Formula Kite Asian Championships and threw down the gauntlet to rivals with an almost perfect performance on the regatta’s second day to surge convincingly to the head of the order.
The 18-year-old scooped five bullets and a second spot in her day’s six races in ideal foiling conditions of breezes that varied from 8kts to 11kts on the flat waters off Guangxi province’s Beihai city, south-west China.
Her stellar racing when she barely put a foot wrong and had enough speed to leave the others in the women’s fleet trailing was the mirror opposite of her first day’s efforts after she was forced to retire from both races, once for following the leaders’ wrong track.
“I’m at the front today, so I have to follow my own course and that’s good for me,” she said. “The wind is much better today, perfect for my 21m kite. I’m getting good starts, which I think has helped a lot.”
Day two of the scheduled six at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) Formula Kite Asians—sponsored by Beihai City—offered the 26 athletes from 11 nations the ideal opportunity to advance their positions in the high-octane foiling discipline.
Russia’s Denis Taradin was among those who rose to the challenge. Like Chen, after some slight misfortune on the championships’ opening day, Taradin hit his stride with four bullets in the men’s fleet’s five races.
Taradin’s superior pace on his 21m foil kite around the rhomboid windward-leeward track helped him leap up the standings as the others just behind him traded places in the scrap for the top places.
“I feel I have good speed today,” said Taradin. “In the races I won I had 10 or 15 seconds' lead on the others. But when I came in fourth I’d rounded the top mark first, but Mario Calbucci was very close. I crashed a gybe downwind and just couldn’t get back up on terms.”
Calbucci (ITA) scooped a bullet when Taradin faltered in one race and was able to add a clutch of high-placed finishes that were enough to keep him touch with the Russian in second spot on the leaderboard with all still to play for.
“It’s good racing today,” said Calbucci. “The wind’s not too light and I had good speed. I made mistakes but got some good results, though I hit a jelly fish just before the finish in the day’s third race. I ended up fifth, but that’s how it goes.”
Overnight leader, Turkey’s Ejder Ginyol had a slightly more mixed outing and slipped to third overall. But his performance was still good enough to notch up a second and third that kept him in the hunt.
Just behind him New Zealand’s Sam Bullock, hunting points to earn a slot at the World Beach Games in San Diego in October, also found his groove and earned two seconds and a third-placed finish.
“I got behind my countryman Lukas [Walton-Kiem] in one race,” said Bullock. “I'm not used to that and I pushed really hard. I think I was able to carry that speed into the next races. I definitely went better today.”
Top five men after eight races (two discards)
1 Denis Taradin (RUS) 6pts
2 Mario Calbucci (ITA) 13pts
3 Ejder Ginyol (TUR) 16pts
4 Sam Bullock (NZL) 17pts
5 Lukas Walton-Keim (NZL) 23pts
Top five women after eight races (two discards)
1 Jingle Chen (CHN) 7pts
2 Magdalena Woyciechowska (POL) 12pts
3 Julia Damasiewicz (POL) 14pts
4 Natalie Flintrop-Clarke (AUS) 21pts
5 Benyapa Jantawan (THA) 24pts