49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17, and Male/Female Foiling Kitesurf will compete for the joint 2018 European Championship in La Rochelle, France.
These 5 progressive sailing events will wow the nautical French city just one month before the first Olympic qualifiers.
Together these events represent some of the most dynamic athletes in sailing. These sailors push modern craft to the highest levels. The 49er, 49erFX, and mixed Nacra 17 are all Olympic class boats currently, and the foiling kitesurfer aims to gain Olympic status for 2024.
All five events will also be included in the Aarhus 2018 Sailing World Championship which will also serve as the first qualifier for the 2020 Olympics.
Racing for the combined Europeans is scheduled from July 8-13, 2018, with pre-regatta formalities beginning on July 5th. There will be three days of qualification followed by three days of finals for the Olympic classes, with a format yet to be determined for the kites.
The final three days will be live broadcasted for free to the public as has been the tradition for the past number of years.
This progressive sailing festival is meant to be a chance to bring together a like minded but diverse group of modern sailors.
La Rochelle is a traditional nautical area, with a long history in modern and traditional sailing. The regatta will be based from the Societe des Regates Rochelaises (SRR), a host organization that has performed many large-scale regattas in the recent past including the autumn French Olympic week under the old grade 1 / grade 2 system when World Sailing was ISAF.
“We are delighted to be working with the folks in La Rochelle to bring this large and complex championship. The European Championships is the second most important championship annually for Olympic classes and we are excited to be racing in such a fine venue. It will also be nice to race alongside our friends from the kitesurfing community, who share a passion for modern sailing technology and a collaborate culture,”said president of the 49er and Nacra 17 classes, Marcus Spillane.
”Being included in this world class event means a lot to us and shows the continued integration of kiteracing into multi-class sailing events. Competing in France, the “motherland” of kitefoil-racing together with the other high-performance Olympic Classes is another step to showcase progressive equipment and competition formats. Be prepared for a true spectacle” says Markus Schwendtner, CEO of the International Kiteboarding Association.
“We're really thrilled to host such an exciting regatta in La Rochelle. Our ability to race in front of the public at this time of the year will make it a spectacular event. And we can't wait to see the first kite race ever in La Rochelle! This event will be the climax of the 2018 season”,Said Alain Mevellec, president of Société des Régates Rochelaises (SRR).
For the 49er class this is the 22ndEuropean Championship of the class with Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell winning both the Europeans and Worlds last year in their first major championship titles in the 49er. They will be odds on favorites to repeat.
For the 49erFX this is the 6thEuropean Championship. Last years winners were Tina Lutz and Susan Beucke of Germany, who won on a blustery final day with a win or swim attitude that was more than the competition could handle. The 49erFX class will be a tough title to predict ahead of time since it is expected that every champion from all previous worlds and Europeans is likely to attend.
For the Nacra 17 this is also the 6thever European Championship with Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti from Italy wining in 2017. This will be the first major championship of the foiling class with all teams having been fully trained up on the boats. The 2018 events were conducted with teams having the boats for only a few months, so with a full year of practice under their belts this championship will be a great test for top teams ahead of Aarhus Olympic qualifying.
It will be the 8thEuropean Championship for the Formula Kite Class, which has made the step to “fully foiling” in 2014. The class enjoys a healthy cross-over not only from traditional sailing classes like Optimist, where most of the current top sailors earned their first victories, but also from high performance sailing and match racing. Defending European Champions are Nico Parlier and Alexia Fancelli, both from France, who hope to defend their titles on home turf.
France’s Nico Parlier topped off a dramatic week at the Formula Kite World Championships in Oman with a near-perfect exhibition that only served to underscore his dominance and land him the title.
In the tense battles of the climactic final day’s Medal Series decider, the French rider’s sheer pace meant he had the title in the bag even before the last race, adding to the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil Class world title that he secured in Italy last month.
If anything, the US’s Daniela Moroz was even more dominant in the women’s division. The 16-year-old had already won the IKA Formula Kite World Championship crown even before she took to the water on the last day, securing her back-to-back world titles.
“It’s really, really good. I’m pretty stoked,” said a beaming Moroz. “Coming into this there was a lot of expectation heaped on me, but I managed to stay calm. I just had fun with it and tried to keep all the pressure out of my mind.”
The more measured Parlier was equally delighted, if less vocal, about his victory and a performance that left the rest of the pack—the strongest and youngest fleet in years—shaking their heads in awe at his speed and tactical presence.
“It was a good day,” said Parlier. “I had won today in the Medal Series after the second race. I could have stayed on the beach and still have won, so in the end it was easy. But still, the level of competition was really high and it was tough. Right now we’re going faster and faster, and I really like that because the level of our sport’s going up.”
The five-day regatta—hosted by Oman Sail with associate sponsor Al Mouj Muscat—was marked by scintillating kite hydrofoil racing in conditions that varied from 6 knots to 20 knots, challenging the 58 riders, including six women, from 22 countries and six continents.
In the epic conditions on the Gulf of Oman, framed by a dramatic mountain backdrop, organisers ran 108 of the “short track” races that lasted barely eight minutes, such is the devastating speed of the cutting-edge hydrofoils and the skill of the athletes who can clock almost 40 knots even in light breezes.
But kite racing is about more than pure speed. Consistency is key, as one of the early leaders, Britain’s Olly Bridge, discovered to his cost in the drama that unfolded in the last day’s Medal Series.
Going into the final day’s competition in second spot overall, Bridge had a slender lead over France’s Axel Mazella. But a disastrous second race where he finished eighth in the 10-strong Medal Series fleet, left him in a tough spot hoping the Frenchman might slip up.
However, Mazella responded to the pressure in the fading 6 knots to 7 knots of breeze on smooth waters. He took a win in the day’s final race, just ahead of Parlier and Bridge, to clinch the second podium spot.
“It was very tense out there,” said a visibly delighted Mazella. “Looking at the scoreboard I knew I could afford to finish the last race two places behind him, but I won. This ‘short track’ format is really, really difficult because if you make a bad start, or a mistake, it’s over. For that reason I’m really super-happy to take second place.”
Similarly thrilled was former Formula Kite World Champion, Russia’s Elena Kalinina, who also found herself locked in a struggle for second spot with France’s Alexia Fancelli, in a contest that went down to the wire.
In the final race of the event, Kalinina edged the second spot on the podium when she snatched a second in the race, while Fancelli could only manage a fourth as both women struggled in the light breeze that dipped to 5 knots.
“It was very, very close right down to the last race,” said Kalinina. “The last race was the decider and we were always neck-and-neck, so it came down to who made the least mistakes. I crashed on a tack, but then she did too. We’ve been fighting all through our 26 races for the second podium place. It was great sailing—a great experience that you just can’t buy. I’m so happy.”
Despite starting the day just ahead in second spot overall, Fancelli took heart from her performance that signalled a huge improvement in that she is now pushing the former world champion to the limit.
“I’m happy, but sad at the same time,” said Fancelli. “But I’m pleased with third to Elena Kalinina because I’m really close now. I’m super-happy with my progression, and I’ll be back next year to take second, or even first. I’ll definitely be working on my light-wind skills.”
Full results can be found at:www.formulakite.com/results
Formula Kite World Championship, Men
1 Nico Parlier (FRA)
2 Axel Mazella (FRA)
3 Olly Bridge (GBR)
Formula Kite World Championship, Women
1 Daniela Moroz (USA)
2 Elena Kalinina (RUS)
3 Alexia Fancelli (FRA)
Formula Kite World Championship, U-18 Division
1 Toni Vodisek (SLO)
2 Martin Dolenc (CRO)
3 Mani Bisschops (AUS)
Formula Kite World Championship U-21 Division Women
1Daniela Moroz (USA)
2 Elena Kalinina (RUS)
3 Anaïs Mai Desjardins FRA)
Formula Kite World Championship U-21 Division
1 Axel Mazella (FRA)
2 Olly Bridge (GBR)
3 Titouan Galea (FRA)
Formula Kite World Championship Grand Masters Division
1 James Johnson (DEN)
2 Pierluigi Capozzi (ITA)
3 Klas Naabo (SWE)
Formula Kite World Championship Masters Division
1 Nico Landauer (URU)
2 James Johnson (DEN)
3 Ivan Doronin (RUS)
Competition at the Formula Kite World Championships in Oman saw the stakes raised as the leading racers battled to secure a top 10 spot and the chance to go for glory in the Medal Series on the final day on Friday.
The duels on the water off Muscat’s Al Mouj beach in the top fleet, with riders battling for position, were intense, with the slightest mistake proving costly in what is undoubtedly the strongest kitefoil racing line-up of the year.
France’s Nico Parlier barely put a foot wrong on the penultimate day of the five-day regatta on the Gulf of Oman’s flat waters, in a shifty 10 to 11 knot breeze, extending his lead and giving himself a healthy advantage.
It didn’t all go his way, however, Britain’s Olly Bridge managed to get the better of the Frenchman in one race, notching up his first win and taking second place on the leaderboard. This victory came right after he had failed to complete the previous race and had to be rescued after breaking two lines and seeing his kite tumble into the water.
France’s Axel Mazella secured third place on the leaderboard after a day of neck-and-neck competition with rivals Parlier and Bridge that saw ultra-fast (just over) seven-minute laps of the course.
Despite intense competition from a classy field – with 10 of the 18-strong gold fleet riders aged under 21 – the leading trio were in a class of their own. The chasing pack, however, was almost as quick, with most finishing just seconds after the leaders.
The biggest winner on day four of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) Formula Kite World Championships, hosted by Oman Sail with associate sponsor Al Mouj Muscat, was Riley Gibbs, from the USA, who put in a stellar performance and notched up a clutch of high-placed finishes.
He was awarded a scoring redress for the five races he was forced to miss on Wednesday after a collision in a port-starboard incident with the reigning Formula Kite World Champion, Maxime Nocher, from Monaco. The award propelled him to fourth on the leaderboard and secured his place in the Medal Series.
Slovenian Toni Vodisek, 17, put his best foot forward on day four, enjoying his finest day on the water so far with a brace of second and third place finishes in the top fleet’s six races, putting him seventh overall.
Russian Denis Taradin had a slightly more chequered outing, but his strong finishes in the opening clashes of the two-day Finals Series were enough to put him in ninth place overall going into the final day.
“Behind the leading three guys there is a battle for every single place,” said Taradin. “It’s definitely the toughest fleet I’ve ever sailed in. The whole line-up is packed. I love every single moment of it. I try not to care too much about the result, enjoy myself and not make too much trouble in my mind.”
Frenchman Théo de Ramecourt, tenth overall, was also revelling in the intensity of the competition that he believed ultimately could only be good for his future performance.
“The level here is just insane,” said de Ramecourt. “One race you can be number four, then number 14. You just can’t make any mistakes. It’s really hard, but it’s so interesting. We now have a new vision of what racing is. I’m so happy with my speed and performance.”
In the women’s fleet, another battle has been unfolding out on the water between France’s Alexia Fancelli and Russia’s Elena Kalinina, with both trailing in the wake of the reigning Formula Kite World Champion, Daniela Moroz, from the USA, who posted six wins out of six today.
Fancelli was pleased to have bagged a second and a trio of third place finishes that gave her the edge and put her in second place on the leaderboard over former Formula Kite World Champion, Kalinina. The pair, are just one point apart going into the final day.
“I’m so pleased that I’m in the game with Elena Kalinina for a second-place finish,” said Fancelli. “We’ve had a long day, but I’m absolutely going faster. So now it’s about tactics and reading the wind shifts on the course to earn the best advantage.”
Full results and minute-by-minute race reporting can be found at:www.formulakite.com/results
Top five men after 12 finals series races (two discards)
1 Nico Parlier (FRA) 14pts
2 Olly Bridge (GBR) 27pts
3 Axel Mazella (FRA) 31pts
4 Riley Gibbs (USA) 56pts
5 Titouan Galea (FRA) 92pts
Top three women after 23 races (four discards)
1 Daniela Moroz (USA) 19pts
2 Alexia Fancelli (FRA) 43pts
3 Elena Kalinina (RUS) 44pts
With the top fleet stacked with the world’s fastest kite racers the battles at the Formula Kite World Championships in Oman just got a lot fiercer in awesome conditions that provided a perfect stage for the riders’ supreme athleticism.
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, 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 at the 2017 IKA Formula Kite World Championships, hosted by Oman Sail with associate sponsor Al Mouj Muscat, 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. Nocher also changed out of his wetsuit and pulled out of the fray for the remainder of the day.
Day three of the championship saw the leading riders divided into gold, silver and bronze fleets for the two-day finals series, seeded on the basis of the opening exchanges in the qualifiers. Day five of the competition, dedicated to a medal series, will pit the top 10 men against one another for the crown and the spoils.
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.”
Live results and daily minute-by-minute reports from the racing action can be found at:www.formulakite.com
Top five men after six finals series races (one discard)
1 Nico Parlier (FRA) 9pts
2 Olly Bridge (GBR) 15pts
3 Axel Mazella (FRA) 17pts
4 Julien Kerneur (FRA) 47pts
5 Johnny Heineken (USA) 54pts
Top three women after 17 races (three discards)
1 Daniela Moroz (USA) 15pts
2 Alexia Fancelli (FRA) 29pts
3 Elena Kalinina (RUS) 33pts
The leading riders consolidated their hold on the top tier of the leaderboard with spectacularly-close competition at the Formula Kite World Championships in Oman as conditions delivered epic racing.
Britain’s Olly Bridge preserved his overnight lead with another all-star performance in breeze that quickly built to over 20knots, churning up the blue waters of the Gulf of Oman off Muscat’s Al Mouj Beach.
After an uncharacteristically faltering start to his day that saw him finish third in race one after mistakenly heading towards the wrong mark, the Brit barely skipped a beat winning the next five of the day’s six races. He was able to shrug off the error with a wry smile, safe in the knowledge that he had secured pole position going into the regatta’s two-day finals series that will pit the fastest racers against one another.
The younger Bridge sibling, Guy, was not so lucky on day two of the World Championships. He could not repeat his opening form and slipped in the rankings, although a series of high-placed finishes saw him rank fourth on the leaderboard – enough to secure his spot in the finals series that kick off tomorrow.
Day two of the 2017 IKA Formula Kite World Championship, hosted by Oman Sail with associate sponsor Al Mouj Muscat, saw a repeat performance of the fierce contest between French duo, Nico Parlier and Axel Mazella.
The pair again found themselves racing in the same qualifying series fleet. But as the breeze quickly built from 8 knots to 17-18 knots, there was little between the two.
Time and again after blisteringly-quick laps of the short track, often completed in under eight minutes, they were locked together in photo-finishes in flat-out drag races on the reach to the finish line.
The smallest error was enough to concede the lead, though often on the course throughout their six races, they traded the lead only to snatch it back as they crossed the finish line.
In the end, it was Parlier who secured the lion’s share of the victories with four to Mazella’s two. The freshening breeze played to his strengths, though both were still holding down large 15m kites at the finish.
The breath-taking performances and nail-biting finishes saw the pair leapfrog Guy Bridge, putting Parlier and Mazella in second and third place respectively. All the riders will now be reseeded into the finals series fleet.
“I like these breezier conditions. I think I really go best in this kind of weather,” said Parlier. “Because Axel Mazella and I have been battling one another, we’ll start behind Olly Bridge in points, which is definitely not an advantage, but I think the conditions are going to be completely different for the rest of the week, so it’s going to be a completely different regatta.”
In the women’s fleet the reigning IKA Formula Kite World Champion, US rider, Daniela Moroz, 16, reigned supreme again, winning almost every one of the six races convincingly.
She did show that she is not invincible however when she was disqualified in one race for crossing the start-line early and only won another race by the skin of her teeth after misjudging the lay line on the downwind leg.
“I was way below the bottom mark and I had to double gybe,” said Moroz. “Some of the others passed me, but I caught up going up wind and managed to pass them on the downwind leg. It was pretty close, though!”
Racing continues tomorrow with the Finals Series.
Full results and daily minute-by-minute reporting can be found at:www.formulakite.com
Top five men after 12 races (two discards)
1 Olly Bridge (GBR) 10pts
2 Nico Parlier (FRA) 12pts
3 Axel Mazella (FRA) 16pts
4 Guy Bridge (GBR) 23pts
5 Titouan Galea (FRA) 28pts
Top three women after 12 races (two discards)
1 Daniela Moroz (USA) 10pts
2 Elena Kalinina (RUS) 20pts
3 Alexia Fancelli (FRA) 27pts
Britain’s Bridge brothers, Olly and Guy, signalled their intent when they bagged a big tally of first places in the opening exchanges of the Formula Kite World Championships in Oman, giving them the top two spots on the leaderboard.
Olly Bridge put on a near flawless display, taking six wins and leaving classy rivals like reigning and former Formula Kite World Champions, Maxime Nocher (MON) and Johnny Heineken (USA), trailing in his wake.
Younger sibling Guy Bridge, competing in a different flight of the qualifying series, took four firsts and a second, beating off challenges from Theo Lhostis (FRA) and another former Formula Kite World Champion, Germany’s Florian Gruber.
But it was the rivalry between the French duo of Nico Parlier and Axel Mazella, racing in a third flight of the men’s qualifying series, that produced the most intriguing battles on the opening day of the 2017 World Championship contest.
The pair, close friends off the water, traded wins and second-place finishes all day in their flight’s six races. With acute tactical appreciation and searing pace on their kite hydrofoils, the Frenchmen are so closely matched they had many near photo-finishes after the eight-minute circuits of the short track course.
Yet it was Parlier, the reigning IKA KiteFoil Class World Champion, who got the upper hand with four wins to Mazella’s two, leaving them in third and fourth place respectively on the leaderboard. Even with the flight assignment for day two of the five-day contest reseeded, they will come up against one another again on day three, before proceeding to the finals series.
For the women, competing in their own fleet, reigning IKA Formula Kite World Champion, Daniela Moroz (USA), was as usual in a league of her own in the breezes that built from 8 knots to around 13kts under cloudless skies over the Gulf of Oman.
The 16-year-old made an inauspicious start when she went towards the wrong mark in the opening race and finished down the field. But in the following races she didn’t put a foot wrong and the five firsts she scooped put her at the top of the women’s leaderboard.
The five-day competition to crown the IKA Formula Kite World Champions, hosted by Oman Sail and associate sponsor Al Mouj Muscat, will be broken up into a two-day qualifying series to seed the two-day finals series, with the top riders competing for gold on the last day in the medals series.
Day one delivered classic kite foil racing conditions, with most riders opting for their larger 19m or 21m kites for the 7-8kts breezes, eventually dropping down to 15m kites as the breeze built and the sinking sun highlighted the coastline’s stunning mountain backdrop.
But Olly Bridge, for one, only had eyes on the prize. His laser-like concentration paid off to devastating effect and put him in a good place as he comes up against stiffer tests as the competition progresses.
“I’ve been racing a lot in the last few weeks, so that was a good warm up for me,” he said. “I’ve been training hard on a new foil and the kites have been helping my performance too. Maxime Nocher is just behind me in every race, so that’s a pretty nice feeling.”
On the other hand, Axel Mazella finds himself in the slightly uncomfortable position of playing second fiddle to his friend and rival Nico Parlier even though there is little to separate them.
“We have exactly the same performance and the same pace,” he said. “So when either of us makes a mistake in a race, he gives up the lead. Strategy becomes very, very important.”
Top five men after six races (one discard)
1 Olly Bridge (GBR) 5pts
2 Guy Bridge (GBR) 6pts
3 Nico Parlier (FRA) 6pts
4 Axel Mazella (FRA) 8pts
5 Theo Lhostis (FRA) 13pts
Top three women after six races (one discard)
1 Daniela Moroz (USA) 5pts
2 Elena Kalinina (RUS) 11pts
3 Alexia Fancelli (FRA) 12pts
A clique of reigning and former kite racing world champions are lined up ready to fight it out with a clutch of young pretenders on the flat waters of Oman’s dramatic coastline as they vie for the prized 2017 Formula Kite crowns.
The impressive roster of the world’s fastest kitefoil racers represents the showdown of the year in what will surely be breathtakingly tight contests on the Gulf of Oman’s crystal clear waters off Muscat’s Al Mouj Beach.
The much-anticipated head-to-head battles will see reigning International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) Formula Kite World Champion, Monaco’s Maxime Nocher, attempt to see off title challenges from France’s Nico Parlier, the “open” Kitefoil Class world title holder, and his countryman Axel Mazella, the KiteFoil GoldCup World Series victor.
In the women’s division—raced separately from the men over the six days of competition—reigning IKA Formula Kite world title holder, the US’s Daniela Moroz, still just 16, is trying to keep her nerve and ignore the expectation heaped on her.
With 58 competitors—six of them women—from 22 countries and six continents, the hotly-contested title fight hosted by Oman Sail, with associate sponsor Al Mouj Muscat, will provoke intriguing battles on warm waters bathed by consistent sea breezes.
Oman Sail has already staged a host of the sport’s most prestigious events, including the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, the Extreme Sailing Series and the Laser World Championships.
The addition of the IKA Formula Kite Worlds to that line up chimes with its vision to project the Sultanate’s profile on the global stage. A colourful opening ceremony that welcomed the athletes, gave voice to that vision.
The Formula Kite Worlds, run over five days’ racing, is a “closed” event that restricts riders to four registered series production kites and one production hydrofoil. It is the same format that will be deployed if kiting is successful in its bid to become a “showcase event” at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The impending decision partly explains why such a strong field has turned out for the kite racing calendar’s climactic event.
Just over a year after she stunned the kite racing scene when she scooped the Formula Kite crown in China aged just 15, Daniela Moroz, is trying to balance the pressures that come with being the title holder.
“I’m really excited to do another world championship, but it’s a lot of pressure,” she said. “People have expectations of me now, so it’s a bit stressful. But I’m trying to relax, listen to my gut, and tune it all out. The competition’s got a lot hotter.”
Last year’s runner-up, former world champion Elena Kalinina of Russia, will inevitably be a strong contender, but the French duo of Alexia Fancelli and Anaïs Mai Desjardins have been training hard with the men on their Enata team.
Desjardins, also 16, is excited about the chance to take part in her second world championship, especially since she has joined Team Enata that has given her access to more-competitive equipment.
“I love this equipment and it’s not like last year at all,” she said. “Now the stuff is not the problem. I can’t blame my equipment any more. If there’s a problem, it’s me.”
Maxime Nocher, returning after a four-month hiatus from kiting, is eager to add to his three successive Formula Kite world crowns but fears it will be a tough ask in the face of such stiff competition that also includes former title holders Johnny Heineken, of the US, and Germany’s Florian Gruber.
“I haven’t been in the water for more than a month, so we will see,” said Nocher. “I’m here for the fun. Of course I’m keen to retain my title, but I’m realistic about it.”
The stage is set for the year’s biggest kite racing event with the globe’s fastest riders planning to assemble on Oman’s crystal clear waters in just one month to do battle for the coveted Formula Kite World Championship crowns.
With the decision on kiteboarding’s bid to become a “showcase event” at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics imminent, it is expected the showdown for the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) titles will also draw a large fleet with real strength in depth.
Yet it is the prospect of all the top men and women—who have not appeared on the same stage so far this year—coming together to go head-to-head in kiteboarding’s searingly-quick, cutting-edge discipline that is truly mouthwatering.
Muscat’s Al Mouj Beach on the Gulf of Oman, bathed with constant breezes, will serve as the perfect backdrop for the unfolding drama, ensuring the world-class athletes can perform to the highest level as they go for glory over the competition’s six days.
The IKA Formula Kite format, which will be used at the Tokyo Games if kiteboarding is successful, restricts racers to four registered series production kites and one hydrofoil for the event to provide a level playing field and ensure only the best athletes win.
But the restrictions do nothing to hinder riders’ speeds and on-going developments mean competitors often hit 40kts on downwind legs of the windward-leeward courses, matched by breathtaking upwind angles on the efficient carbon hydrofoils teamed with powerful foil kites.
That Oman Sail, with associate sponsor Al Mouj Muscat, should bring the state-of-the-art foiling class to grace its pristine warm waters is a fitting way to showcase the Sultanate’s world-class host venue status and seductive blend of welcoming friendly people, cultural depth and stunning natural beauty on the world stage.
Oman has already established itself as a favoured world-class sailing destination hosting a plethora of events at the sport’s pinnacle, including the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, the Extreme Sailing Series, the Laser World Championship and the RS:X Windsurfing World Championship.
Now it is kiteboarding’s turn to join the illustrious line-up, and with a clutch of reigning and former world champions eager to grace the Al Mouj Beach arena, the contests are bound to produce fireworks.
Key among the men is France’s Nico Parlier, 22, who proved almost unbeatable at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam in Italy last week, when he was crowned World Champion in the “open” IKA KiteFoil Class.
But as invincible as Parlier appeared, two other riders could yet find chinks in his armour if conditions play into their hands. Countryman Axel Mazella showed at the Sardinia event that he has what it takes when he bested Parlier in a number of races, while the returning reigning Formula Kite World Champion Maxime Nocher, of Monaco, is hungry to retain his crown.
Another former Formula Kite World Champion, the US’s Johnny Heineken is also to make the trip seeking to pit his skill and pace against the top Europeans. He will also find himself up against another one-time holder of the crown, Germany’s Florian Gruber.
All will have their mettle tested by Britain’s Guy Bridge, 18, who has on occasion at recent regattas stolen a march on most of his rivals with his blistering pace. Elder sibling, Olly Bridge, also has the sheer raw speed and tactical appreciation to be in with a shout for the title in Oman.
Their mother, Steph Bridge, multiple champion and world ranked number one, will undoubtedly be pushing hard in the women’s fleet, which will race separately from the men. But the British veteran will have her work cut out trying to contain foil racing prodigy, the US’s reigning Formula Kite World Champion, Daniela Moroz, 16.
Both will face-off against Russia’s Elena Kalinina, another former world champion who will be keen to avenge last year’s defeat by Moroz, and the French duo of Alexia Fancelli and Anaïs Mai Desjardins, also just 16.
Oman Sail’s Chief Marketing Officer, Salma Al Hashmi, is clearly excited by the prospect of hosting such a thrilling world-class line-up.
“We are ready and looking forward to welcoming international kiteboarding athletes to the Formula Kite World Championships in Oman in just a month’s time,” said Al Hashmi.
“I am confident they will enjoy the fantastic sailing conditions, the Sultanate’s world famous hospitality and the exceptional facilities they will find at Al Mouj Beach in Muscat.
“Hosting this major Championship and the recent Kite Speed Worlds event in Masirah, the Sultanate’s leading kiting venue, gives us the ideal opportunity to promote the Sultanate as a kiteboarding destination and to attract new travelers to our shores.”
IKA CEO Markus Schwendtner is equally enthralled by the promise of gathering such a classy field on a track that will best highlight the discipline and the athletes’ supreme talent.
“This event in Oman in such a spectacular setting with unrivalled kitefoil racing conditions is without doubt going to be the highlight of the calendar,” said Schwendtner. “The warmth of the people is matched only by the skill of the on-water team that has already proved itself hosting world-beating sailing events. We couldn’t be more excited that we will now be part of that story.”
Event Dates: 19 Nov - 24 Nov 2017
Location: Al Mouj Beach, Muscat, Oman
Prize Money: 40.000 EUR
Travel and Accommodation information: http://formulakite.com/images/documents/2017_FK_Worlds_Accommodation.pdf
Nico Parlier (FRA, Ozone/Mikes Lab) took the men's title after neck on neck racing with his french rival Axel Mazella (FRA, Enata) with the lead swapping race by race on the final day in front of Tirmata Beach, Istanbul.
The event kicked of last Saturday with the iconic Bosphorus Race - a long distance race over approximately 41 km from Tirmata Beach right into the heart of Istanbul in ideal sailing conditions with 9 knots northerly winds and moderate seas. 29 out of the 36 strong fleet saw the finishing line right in front of Ortaköy Camii Mosque, after having passed all three bridges that connect Europe with Asia.
Day two of the championship saw perfect summer holiday weather - with winds never reaching the required 6 knots minimum over the course area, racing was postponed to the next day with a promising forecast for the rest of the week.
Conditions changed over night though, with an enormous storm in the north of the Black Sea pushing big waves onto the shoreline of Istanbul and putting up a difficult task for the race committee to get any racing underway.
The qualifying series for the men, originally planned to span over two days, had to be extended to reach 5 races, with only a short window during the day were the seastate allowed racing at all without putting competitor's and crew's safety at risk.
The first day of the final series saw the AP flag flying for the whole day again, with no chance to the the race committee boat out of the harbour due to the big waves.
It all came down to the final day with a mangeable seastate and the race committee keen to catch up with the lost races of the previous days. In total, 9 races for each Gold, Silver and Women's fleet were run before the cut of time at 17:00.
In every single race, Parlier and Mazella changed the lead several times, but in the end Nico Parlier was able to maintain the lead in almost all races, even if only by a very small margin. Several times the two rivals came over the finishing line overlapped after chasing each other around the course.
It was only Olly Bridge (GBR, Flysurfer/Levitaz) who was able to break the dominance of the two frenchmen in a couple of races, strengthening his third position overall.
In the women's fleet, reigning World Champion Daniela Moroz (USA, Ozone/MikesLab) dominated competition from day one, winning the Bosphorus Race and from then on every single race except of one DNF in the 14 race single series, securingher the European crown with a perfect score.
The remaining two podium places were hard fought for between Alexia Fancelli (FRA, Enata) and Elena Kalinina (RUS, Elf/Levitaz), with the better scoreline in the end for the french runner-up.
TOP 5 MEN after 5 qualifying series and 9 final series races
1. Nicolas Parlier (FRA) - 13 pts
2. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 18 pts
3. Oliver Bridge (GBR) - 31 pts
4. Theo Lhostis (FRA) - 40 pts
5. Denis Taradin (RUS) - 43 pts
TOP 5 WOMEN after 14 races
1. Daniela Moroz (USA) - 12 pts
2. Alexia Fancelli (FRA) - 29 pts
3. Elena Kalinina (RUS) - 34 pts
4. Anais Desjardins (FRA) - 40 pts
5. Bilge Ozturk (TUR) - 126 pts
Six new World Cup Series champions have been crowned after a day of Medal Races were played out in Santander, Spain.
Racing concluded in the Men's and Women's Windsurfers, Men's and Women's Skiff, the Mixed Multihull and the Foiling Formula Kiteboarding with five new World Cup champions and one successful defence.
After a morning postponement, Medal Races kicked off on the Dune racing area in a light, fickle and challenging 5-8 knot north easterly breeze that tested sailors and the race committee alike.
Watch back all of today's Medal Races here -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADw68mHQkR4
Nico Parlier (FRA) was head and shoulders above the Foiling Formula Kiteboarding fleet all week long and confirmed gold with ease. His victory ends Oliver Bridge's three-year run of World Cup Series victories but Bridge did enough to clinch silver.
On the week, Parlier commented, "It was very good, great weather and atmosphere. We have been doing six races every day, so it has been fun. I have been training a lot for this and I was quite good at reading the wind, that's very important in Kiteboarding.”
Riccardo Leccese managed to climb into third after Guy Bridge (GBR) dropping down from second place as he was unable to finish two of the day's final series races in the extremely light winds.
TOP 5 after 12 qualifying series, 12 final series races (4 discards), and 3 single counting non-discardable medal races:
1. Nicolas Parlier (FRA) - 27 pts
2. Oliver Bridge (GBR) - 54 pts
3. Riccardo Leccese (ITA) - 70 pts
4. Guy Bridge (GBR) - 72 pts
5. Denis Taradin (RUS) - 87 pts
Full results: http://manage2sail.com/en-US/event/1f4c5cb6-3823-4892-8839-4109a758ec89#!/results?classId=50c7a49b-cb00-4d8f-a9ea-8146737e732b
LIVE Tracking and results: https://swc2017-santander.sapsailing.com/gwt/Home.html?#/regatta/races/:eventId=3b79f093-d52f-440b-9fc4-2fb9e0cc70c9®attaId=SWC%202017%20Santander%20-%20Formula%20Kite
IMAGE GALLERY: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.457069844630756.1073741834.288407161497026&type=1&l=45c4f8deb3