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Kite Foil World Championships 2022 in Cagliari Sardinia

Source: Formula Kite

Overall Standings Men and women

written by Andy Rice, Event Reporter

16.10.2022, Formula Kite Foil World Championships 2022: First world title for Vodisek, No.6 for Moroz

Poetto Beach saved its best for last, with strong onshore winds and challenging waves to decide the climax of the 2022 Formula Kite World Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia. The past six days have produced all kinds of conditions and have made the battle for the men’s and women’s world titles a true test of all-round ability.

Daniela Moroz (USA) made it look easy as she foiled to victory in the one and only race in the women’s final. Toni Vodisek (SLO) crashed out of his first finals race, with Max Maeder (SGP) pulling all square for race two. This time Maeder crashed and Vodisek seized his chance, winning the world title with a 10-metre big-air celebration moments after he crossed the finish line.

BRITS DOMINATE THE WOMEN’S SEMI-FINALS

In the first women’s semi-final, Ellie Aldridge (GBR) only had to win one race to earn her place in the four-board final. However, it was another British rider Maddie Anderson (GBR) who put a win on the board after a barnstorming performance in the wavy conditions. In the next race however, Aldridge hit her stride and was first across the line, booking her place to the final round.

Another British rider, Katie Dabson (GBR), was in the box seat for the other semi-final. Yet in two successive races Dabson suffered some spectacular wipe-outs at critical moments. The British rider saw her advantage ebbing away as Breiana Whitehead (AUS) and Gal Zukerman (ISR) drew level on two match points each. In a who-beats-who scenario, Dabson finally saw out her semi-final and joined Aldridge as the other qualifier in the final.

Out of the start in the first race of the final, the two stand-out performers of 2022 leapt out to an early lead. Lauriane Nolot (FRA) took a narrow advantage ahead of Daniela Moroz (USA) on the approach to the windward mark. But then, a Nolot crash, and Moroz moved into a lead that she would extend until the finish. Victory to Moroz, silver for Nolot and bronze for Aldridge.

FRIENDLY RIVALRY

Moroz spent her formative kiting years on San Francisco Bay and still does a lot of training there today. “Those were great conditions today, I felt pretty comfortable in the waves,” she said. “I’ve had to work harder than ever this year and the level is going to keep on going up. I’m super happy to have won here.” After an unbroken five-year streak of victories in all events came to an end earlier this year, Moroz’s sheen of invincibility was broken. Nolot has become a real threat to the American’s strong grip on the top of the fleet, so for Moroz this was a sweet victory to be back on top for the biggest event of the year. While the will to beat each other is strong, Nolot and Moroz are also the best of friends on shore. This is a friendly rivalry that looks likely to go all the way to the Paris Games in 2024.

FRENCH THROUGH TO THE FINAL

Axel Mazella (FRA) and Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) made short of work of qualifying from their respective semi-finals, both French riders earning their place in the final alongside Toni Vodisek (SLO) and Max Maeder (SGP) who had already qualified from their performance in gold fleet racing a day earlier.

Vodisek and Maeder took an early lead ahead of the French out of the start line of the first final race. Maeder moved ahead and narrowly led Vodisek at the windward mark and started to stretch away downwind. The Singaporean continued to lead and when Vodisek crashed at high speed downwind, Maeder’s job became even easier. Not that anything was easy in today’s wavy conditions.

Now the top two were tied on points. In the next race however, it was Maeder who crashed downwind and never recovered. The French riders couldn’t keep up with Vodisek initially although in the closing stages de Ramecourt pulled out all the stops to close down on the Slovenian. It wasn’t enough. Vodisek held his nerve, crossed the finish line victorious, launching himself more than 10 metres into the sky as he celebrated his first ever world title.

Maeder was unhappy to have taken silver but admitted he hadn’t been good enough. It turned out de Ramecourt had been UFD disqualified for starting too soon, so the bronze medal went to Mazella.

After finishing runner-up to the 16-year-old Maeder at the recent European Championship, Vodisek turned the tables on the young Singaporean and looks to be getting back to his best. “Maximilian has been pushing me to raise my level. He is such an inspiration at such a young age. I have had a few second places and I don’t like that, so I’ll be working hard for next season when I go back to Slovenia.”

Poetto Beach delivered a full range of conditions across the six days of competition. For the 150 riders from 44 nations, it was a big learning experience, and Vodisek and Moroz have set a new bar of performance in high-speed kitefoiling.

15.10.2022, Kite Foil World Championships 2022: Moroz and Vodisek in Pole Position

A light to medium Mistral breeze delivered four high-intensity races on day five of the 2022 Formula Kite World Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia. The wind was blowing offshore from Poetto Beach at 8 to 11 knots, making the racing an altogether more tactical challenge than the previous day of high-speed survival.

Some different riders came to the fore, and the British riders in particular in the women’s fleet. Having trained en masse in Sardinia for the period leading up to the Worlds, the focus on the venue seems to have really paid off for the British.

ELLIE THE ELEGANT

Ellie Aldridge (GBR) won the first race of the session, was second and fourth in the next two, and then rounded off a successful afternoon with another race win. This lifts the British rider to third overall with teammate Katie Dabson (GBR) also profiting from a solid day to rise to fourth overall. These two will be divided off into opposite sides of Sunday’s semi-finals in the Medal Series and will go in with the advantage of two match points in their bid to make it through to the four-rider final.

One race win away from a sixth world title is Daniela Moroz (USA). In the first race Moroz uncharacteristically found herself outside of the top 10 at the first mark but the American fought back to sixth by the finish line. Fortunately for her, closest rival Lauriane Nolot (FRA) only finished 23rd, so the USA rider extended her lead in the competition.

A SIXTH WORLD TITLE?

Although Moroz’s scores of 6,4,3,2 were nothing like as jaw-dropping as her previous run of eight bullets, she has done enough to secure the yellow bib for another day. Moroz only needs to win one race in the four-rider final and her world title defence will be complete.

However, Nolot is also through to the final and in the right conditions has proven she is faster than Moroz. The prospect of a change of wind direction on Sunday could roughen up the flat race course and play to the bigger French rider’s strengths.

Another stand-out performance came from Gal Zukerman (ISR) who rose from 15th to 8th after scores of 2,6,1,5. Jessie Kampman was also on a charge with scores of 3,1,11 but failed to notice there had been a change in starting order of the men’s and women’s races and missed the start of the final gold fleet race. Despite starting late across the line Kampman climbed to 14th by the finish, an incredible feat of overtaking. Alas, still not good enough to make the Medal Series as the French rider slipped to 11th overall.

ICE ON TONI’S KNEE

Toni Vodisek (SLO) hammered home his yellow bib advantage with another superior display, showing he’s comfortable in all conditions. Finishes of 2,1,1 secured his place in the four-rider final even if he failed to finish the last gold fleet race of the afternoon. “I had a crash, well not really a crash but something happened that I don’t quite understand. I hurt my knee pretty badly on the board and I’m going to be icing it tonight to try and get back into shape for tomorrow.” Vodisek had a noticeable limp as he walked across the beach late this afternoon, so now he needs to rest up as much as possible before the rigours of Sunday afternoon’s final.

Max Maeder (SGP) didn’t get off to the best of starts this afternoon. “Soon after the start of the first race I caught a plastic bag and that was causing ventilation on the foil,” he explained. Things went from bad to worse on the final downwind when Maeder hit something at around 30 knots of speed. “I don’t know what it was, a net or something, but it was a very abrupt stop.” Subsequent finishes of 2,4,7 saw the Singaporean lose touch with the lead but the 16-year-old at least secures the second spot in the four-rider final on Sunday afternoon.

A SLICE OF THE ACTION

Two of 2021’s dominant performers remain in the hunt for the world title even if Vodisek and Maeder are looking hard to beat. Axel Mazella (FRA) retains the red bib after four top-six finishes kept the Frenchman in third overall. The 2021 world champion Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) kept his title defence hopes alive despite a spectacular crash in the third race while leading the pack around the windward mark. Jannis Maus (GER) was right behind de Ramecourt and had no time to keep clear. Maus’s foil sliced a huge gouge in the side of the Frenchman’s board, but thankfully there were no injuries in the 30-knot crash.

It had been a tough, tactical outing for the men’s and women’s fleets, and this evening is a chance to take stock, and to make sure mind, body and equipment are ready for Sunday. For this young band of brothers and sisters, it’s the most important day of the year.

BIGGEST DAY OF THEIR YEAR

The final day of competition pits the top 10 riders in each of the men’s and women’s fleets against each other in the Medal Series. Starting 1240 hours local time the Medal Series will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

14.10.2022, Kite Foil World Championships 2022: Warp-Speed Duels on the Gnarliest of Mistral Daysf

he Mistral fully kicked in for day four of the 2022 Formula Kite World Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia. The wind was pumping from 15 up to 22 knots, with some really hard gusts coming off the Sardinian shore. Everyone came back off the water with a big story to tell. The adrenalin and the endorphins were still pumping through every rider’s body as they stepped back on to Poetto Beach while the ever-changing cloud colours scudded overhead.

The only thing that stopped Daniela Moroz in the four women’s gold fleet races was a UFD disqualification. In every race the American crossed the finish line in first place, and thanks to the discard the five-time World Champion still counts a perfect set of race wins. Always pushing her hard, however, was the new European Champion Lauriane Nolot (FRA) who won the race from which Moroz was disqualified, along with 3,2,2 in her other races.

BIG JUMP

The front two have a significant jump on the rest of the women’s fleet, making it very likely that Moroz and Nolot will earn the two automatic places in the four-rider final at the end of the competition this Sunday. Best of the rest after a really solid outing in gnarly conditions were Poema Newland (FRA) and Breiana Whitehead (AUS), the Australian proving that her stand-out performance at the recent Europeans was no fluke.

America’s Cup skipper and keen wingfoiler Jimmy Spithill was out watching the racing from an imposing black powerboat, and was cheering Moroz along from the sidelines. “I was sitting on Jimmy’s rib between races,” smiled Moroz, who has raced with Spithill on the Team USA foiling catamaran in the SailGP circuit. “It was nice to see him again because we hadn’t caught up since I was with him for the San Francisco SailGP event back in March. When I got the UFD Jimmy was like ‘No worries, just get on with the next one.’”

AN ‘INTERESTING’ COLOUR SCHEME

They also talked about the ‘love it or hate it’ colour scheme of the new AC40 launched by America’s Cup team Luna Rossa nearby in Cagliari the previous day. “I told him, I thought the colour scheme was a very interesting idea because it makes it harder to tell what the shape the boat is. Jimmy was saying they’re already having some Joker stickers printed up for it.”

As to the high-speed duel with Nolot, Moroz said: “I was having such a good time pushing with Lauriane and she made me work super hard on the downwind, she was always right behind me. We had a really good battle and we’re super tight on points now.”

THE TONI & MAX MATCH RACE

As with the women’s fleet, there was a duel between two stand-out riders in the men’s gold fleet. Toni Vodisek (SLO) and Max Maeder (SGP) won two races apiece, putting down a level of performance that the other 23 riders struggled to match.

Vodisek was overflowing with excitement after getting his kite down on to the beach. “That was a big day for everybody,” said the Slovenian. “I wanted to congratulate every competitor in every fleet out there because nothing was easy today.”

Earlier in the afternoon when the silver and bronze fleets were racing, a big black rain cloud loomed on the horizon. Even though one of the races was about to finish, it was abandoned in a bid to give maximum time for the riders to get upwind and back on to Poetto Beach. Some made it back to terra firma in the nick of time, others were still struggling to get back and were caught up in the worst of the 40 knots squall as it struck. Coach boats joined the rescue teams to help get every rider and piece of equipment back to the beach. Everyone was safe, no one injured, although a number of kites were damaged in the worst of the squall.

11 > 15

“I’m happy that everybody got out safe and no big incidents,” said Vodisek. As to his duel with Maeder. “He’s a legend in the sport, and it was great to push each other so hard. I was using my 15 square metre and it was too much. I pulled out of the last race as I wanted to preserve my kit. I should have been on the 11 square metre, but anyway, it was the right decision [to retire].”

Maeder agreed that Vodisek’s decision to use one of his discards to preserve his kite was the right move. “That was smart thinking by Toni,” said the Singaporean who jumped up from ninth to second overall today. “He is such a strong competitor and hats off to him. He’s a wonderful rider and I enjoyed our competition on the water today. The choice of going out on the 15 [in those conditions] I will never do again though. I am sure that I would have been more efficient on the 11 [square metre] and it would have been safer for me and for my fellow competitors. I won’t make that mistake again.”

HIGHWAY TO THE SCARY ZONE

The 16 year old admits that he does get scared when the board hits speeds of 37 knots or more. Today he hit a peak speed of 38 knots, although his all-time record is 43 knots on a board barely more than a metre long.

The best riders behind the front two were the Frenchmen Axel Mazella and Theo de Ramecourt who is the defending world champion. De Ramecourt was satisfied with his day after scores of 3,10,4,2 and he has closed the gap to Mazella to just three points.

LIVE: LAST DAY OF GOLD FLEET

Saturday sees the conclusion of gold fleet racing before the top 10 men and women go through to Sunday’s climactic Medal Series. Starting 1400 hours local time the gold fleet racing will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

13.10.2022, Kite Foil World Championships 2022: Moroz makes sense of the Offshore Shifty Stuff

For the riders who chose to sit out the recent Lepanto Formula Kite European Championships in Nafpaktos, Greece, this was a day to prove that the extra training time out of Poetto Beach had been worth it.

OFFSHORE SHIFTY
Daniela Moroz (USA) gave up the chance to defend her European title in order to improve her chances of defending the world title. “We haven’t had many offshore racing days on the circuit this season and I wanted to come here early to experience the whole range of conditions that Cagliari offers,” said the American. There was only one race for the women today, but Moroz did at least win her side of the qualifying heats, and counts a perfect five wins from five races.

Lauriane Nolot (FRA) admitted she didn’t enjoy today’s more tactical conditions although a 2nd place was far from a disaster for the fast Frenchwoman. “Flat water, the whole fleet was on 21 square metre kites and everyone going the same speed,” said Nolot, who is used to exerting a speed advantage in wavier conditions. The winner of the race was Ellie Aldridge (GBR), part of the British squad who had also missed out the Europeans for more training time in Sardinia.

“Today was a reminder that we made the right decision to spend more time here, for sure,” said Aldridge, runner-up in last year’s Worlds. “The offshore stuff is very tactical. It’s about spotting where the pressure is coming from, avoiding the big holes and making sure you’re taking the right wind shift to take you towards the best pressure. The more you sail in it, the more you get used to it, and you know what to expect from it.”

GOOD OLD FASHIONED SAILING SKILLS
Aldridge switched to kiting after growing up racing in dinghies, including two years of campaigning the 49erFX Olympic skiff. “I think that a sailing background really helps you out on a tactical, shifty day like we had today,” she said. Also going well is another former 49erFX sailor, Leonie Meyer (GER), who is being coached by 49er Olympic gold medallist and now kiteboarding addict, Iker Martinez. Meyer’s 2nd in the race behind Moroz puts the German in third place overall going into Friday’s gold fleet competition

VODISEK & MAZELLA AVOID THE POT HOLES

Two races for each of the three qualifying groups in the men’s fleet, and from those six races came six different winners. None of the multiple-race winners won a race today, yet two 2nd places keep Toni Vodisek (SLO) at the top of the pile, with Axel Mazella (FRA) on equal points with the Slovenian once the discard is taken into account. Best performance of the day came from Riccardo Pianosi (ITA) who scored 1,2 to rise to 8th overall. Considering Pianosi has no former background in watersports, coming instead from a street life of parkour and skateboarding, it’s impressive that the athletic Italian made sense of such difficult, tactical conditions.

The 17-year-old Italian has often had to live in the shadow of the 16-year-old Max Maeder (SGP), twice taking the Youth Worlds silver medal behind the double Youth World Champion from Singapore. However today saw Maeder suffer a rare slip from form as scores of 9,10 dropped the Singaporean to 9th overall, 3 points behind Pianosi.

NO SUCH THING AS BAD LUCK

As ever, the wiser-than-his years Maeder was allowing himself no excuses. “Maybe I was on the end of some bad luck, but maybe not. Someone crashed in front of me and I couldn’t avoid them in time, so maybe I need to work better on my spatial awareness. And in the other race I did a port tack start behind the fleet aiming towards what I thought was the better breeze, and it didn’t come through for me. Looking back at it, I should have started on starboard and stayed with the fleet.”

Denis Taradin (CYP) scored 3,1 from his races, lifting the Cypriot rider to third overall. “There were ventilation issues again in the water so I wasn’t pushing too hard,” said Taradin in spite of his good scores. “My goal was to try to stay in the centre of the course and not push too much to the edges. It’s harder for everyone because the wind is more gusty and shifty. You really have to be able to see the gusts and react accordingly.” It might have been two wins for Taradin today but for picking up a plastic bag on his foil. “I had to slow down to shake it off and Theo [de Ramecourt – FRA] went past me. Not much you can do about that, we have to deal with it.”

The end of qualifying is for some the relief of making it through to the gold fleet, but for others is the agony of just missing out. Valentin Bontus (AUT) struck a semi-submerged water bottle that was anchored to the sea floor and crashed out of gold fleet by two places and four points. “It’s frustrating because it broke my foil, I couldn’t carry on. I guess it was something a fisherman put in the water, and it looks like I just missed out on making gold fleet because of it.” Such are the frustrations of high-speed foiling when things go wrong. “All part of the game,” is an oft-heard expression on days like today.

READY TO GO LIVE

Friday sees the 150 riders re-organised into gold, silver and bronze. Starting 1315 hours local time the gold fleet racing will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

MEN – Results after 5 races

  1. Toni Vodisek SLO – 6p
  2. Axel Mazella FRA – 6p
  3. Denis Taradin CYP – 12p

WOMEN – Results after 5 races

  1. Daniela Moroz USA – 4p
  2. Lauriane Nolot FRA – 4p
  3. Leonie Mayer GER – 14p

12.10.2022, Kite Foil World Championships 2022: Sailing Legends give Kites a closer look

Thunder, lightning, rain and a lack of wind all conspired against any racing being able to take place on day two of the 2022 Formula Kite World Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia.

Instead, the 150 riders from 44 countries will have to play out the end of the qualifying phase of the competition on Thursday when the sun and wind are forecast to be much more kite-friendly.

No day at a world championship should ever be wasted, and for the coaches there are still opportunities to make gains with their athletes even on a no-race day. There are some significant names from other parts of the sport in Cagliari looking to help the kiteboarders get up to speed with the rigours of Olympic campaigning. Among the many experts working shoreside and in the coach boats are (in no particular order):

  • Stevie Morrison (GBR), double 49er Olympian and former 49er World Champion
  • Robbie Naismith (NZL), America’s Cup and Whitbread Race winner
  • John Bertrand (USA), Finn Olympic silver medallist
  • Charlie McKee (USA), 470 and 49er double Olympic medallist
  • Iker Martinez (ESP), 49er Olympic gold medallist and world champion, Volvo Ocean Race skipper
  • Joe Glanfield (GBR), double 470 Olympic silver medallist
  • Caleb Paine (USA), Finn Olympic bronze medallist.

Morrison, who also TV commentates on the SailGP circuit, is working with British rider Ellie Aldridge. “Racing with kites is still sailboat racing,” said Morrison. “It’s high-speed decision-making, a bit like in skiffs like the 49er where I came from, but obviously quite a bit faster, sometimes not that far off the speed of SailGP. Whatever you’re sailing, some of the campaigning principles are the same, which is why you see a lot of knowledge coming into the kite fleet from other parts of the sport. And we’re learning a lot from the kite athletes too!”

Robbie Naismith is in Cagliari with his son Lochy who is racing at his first Formula Kite World Championship. “I didn’t really like sailing much when I was growing up,” said Lochy, “I saw the kites and that’s what I wanted to do.”

“I WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME!”

Asked if he had any regrets about his son not following in his father’s professional footsteps into more conventional sailing, Robbie replied: “Not at all! If kitefoiling had been around when I was Lochy’s age I probably would have done the same as him. When I was racing in big keelboats in the America’s Cup 30 years ago, they were the pinnacle of the sport, but now these foiling machines are the peak of the sport today. What Lochy and these kiters are doing has a lot of similarities with what we’re seeing in the America’s Cup and SailGP circuits.”

11.10.2022, Kite Foil World Championships 2022: 4-Bullet Gunslingers on day 1 in choppy Cagliari

Four riders shot out of the start like a bullet with perfect four-from-four scores on day one of qualifying at the 2022 Formula Kite World Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia

In the 58-rider women’s fleet, Daniela Moroz (USA) opened her defence of the world title with an unbroken series of four victories on her side of the qualifying draw. Lauriane Nolot (FRA) did the same in her fleet, four straight victories for the recently crowned European Champion.

DAY OF DOMINANCE

In the 92-rider men’s fleet, the qualifying takes place across three groups. Toni Vodisek (SLO) and Axel Mazella (FRA) scored four out of four in their respective groups, although both acknowledged that Max Maeder (SGP) had it hardest in the talent-packed red group. The 16-year-old Singaporean won his first three heats but slipped to fourth in the last.

Maeder holds himself to high standards and was not entirely happy with his almost impeccable day. “I came ashore at the end of the third race because I had some ventilation issues with my foil and I wanted to spent two minutes to clean the foil for the last race,” said Maeder. “It was a bad decision because I didn’t give myself enough time to be properly ready for the next start. It was a bit hectic and I had a touchdown. Then I was playing catch-up and it was good to get back to fourth, but I paid the price for some rash decisions on the beach.”

STRESSFUL START

The day had begun even more stressfully for Maeder even before the first starting gun had been fired. “We were just 50 metres off the shore when someone dove their kite into mine,” he said. “It goes to show people are under a lot of stress at the Worlds because sometimes they tend to be almost blind. But I managed to come back and change the kite and get out there and win some races. So overall I have to remind myself that this was a good day and there are many people who had a much worse day than me.”

The ventilation issues that Maeder mentioned were felt by all riders. Even the faultless Daniela Moroz said she could feel it through the foil. “It was quite choppy out there, so it could be when your wingtip breaks the surface, or there might be just some stuff in the water that makes it pretty unstable.”

VENTILATION AGGRAVATION

Toni Vodisek agreed: “I felt fast today, but I wasn’t pushing so much because I wanted to avoid the crash. There were a lot of water ventilations and I think everyone was feeling it. Maybe just tiny bits of seaweed were causing the problem, I’m not sure.” Having recently finished runner-up to Maeder at the European Championships, the Slovenian knows the 16-year-old will be hard to beat this week. “I have to say congrats to Maxie. He had the hardest fleet today and he still pulled it off. Real good job. But I’m coming for you, little man!”

Defending world champion Theo de Ramecourt scored a set of four 3rd places today and was pretty happy with his first day at the event. “I had quite a tough group with a lot of good riders, so I’m happy that I managed to race clean. There was a lot of strategy to think about on the race course and it was a really challenging day. You had to focus, you always had to adapt, you couldn’t stick with one thing and make it work all day.”

FOILING CENTRAL

After two days of measurement checks, a number of riders were penalised for removing equipment from the event tents. Each of them was given a 1.6 point penalty to add to their race one score, although any further infringements are likely to incur tougher punishments as the regatta progresses. The racing is getting more serious than ever, and further along Poetto Beach are other Olympic aspirants out training in the bay, including Italy’s gold-medal-winning foiling Nacra 17 squad. In two days’ time Luna Rossa launches its 40ft foiling monohull in Cagliari, so this corner of southern Sardinia really does feel like Foiling Central this week.

Racing continues at 1100 hours local time on Wednesday, with the 150 competitors continuing their battles in the qualifying fleets. Friday sees the fleet re-organised into gold, silver and bronze, when the final three days of the Worlds will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

10.10.2022, Kite Foil World Championships 2022: Olympic Kitefoilers ready to race the Worlds

A total of 150 riders representing 44 nations from every continent are set to contest the 2022 Formula Kite World Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia, over the next seven days. Taking place from 11 to 16 October, the Worlds is the biggest test of the year as the kiteboarding athletes continue their journey towards the Paris 2024 Olympic Games less than two years from now.

With the athletes foiling above the surface at speeds in excess of 30 knots in short races that last 12 minutes, and even shorter finals of just 6 minutes, this is the fastest kind of sailing ever seen in Olympic competition.

10 YEARS ON: HIGHER AND FASTER

It’s 10 years since the Formula Kite World Championships last took place on Poetto Beach in Cagliari, widely recognised as one of the best places in the world for kitefoiling. Some of the same competitors are back a decade later, such as Jannis Maus from Germany. “I was only 15 or 16 at the time, racing in the youth competition,” he recalls. “It’s great to be competing here again, but the level is much higher and it’s going to be intense on the race course.”

France’s Maxime Nocher was 18 years old in 2012 and finished fifth overall. Just over a week ago the Frenchman finished fifth at the Formula Kite European Championships in Nafpaktos, Greece. “If I could finish top five here at the Worlds I will be very happy,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy, but let’s see.”

The Formula Kite concept permits controlled development of equipment within the fleet, managing a delicate balance of trying new ideas and adopting new technology while keeping campaign costs within a sensible budget. Hydrofoiling on a kiteboard was barely a thing back in 2012, as Justina Kitchen (NZL) remembers. “Ten years ago we were racing the Worlds with tube kites and triple-fin boards,” said the Kiwi rider. “I remember it being very bouncy and quite a different ride to being on a foil,” she laughed.

German rider Flo Gruber is considered one of the ‘old men’ of the fleet, even though he’s only 28 years old. He has seen a lot change over the past decade, but says some of the fundamentals have remained the same. “The excitement for racing is the same today as it was then, just that it’s with much faster equipment. The same passion for kiting is here, and it’s great to see some old, familiar faces from 10 years ago as well as the young guns like Max Maeder (SGP) showing up with the same young passion that we had back then.”

Maeder, the 16-year-old from Singapore, won the Open European Championships at the start of the month and starts as one of the big favourites. Defending world champion in the men, Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) retired from the Europeans as he focused on recovering from a training injury that he picked up last month. De Ramecourt is one of a number of French riders who could threaten for the title, and the French will also be very strong in the women’s fleet.

STRONG WOMEN

Lauriane Nolot (FRA) and Jessie Kampman (FRA) took the top two places at the Europeans and are looking in form for Cagliari. However, the five-time World Champion from the USA, Daniela Moroz, has taken a different tack in her defence of the title. The San Franciscan has been training for a number of weeks at the Worlds venue and missed the opportunity to defend her European title in favour of familiarising herself with Poetto Beach. Now we get to see which approach – regatta experience or training time – has been the best preparation for this big event.

A number of big names from the more conventional sailboat racing world are in Cagliari as coaches or technical experts. Olympic medallists from dinghy classes such as the USA’s John Bertrand and Charlie McKee, Spain’s Iker Martinez and Joe Glanfield from Great Britain are among the experts looking to help lift their athletes to the ever-increasing standards required for podium success in this still very young Olympic sport.

Racing begins at 1pm local time on Tuesday, with the riders splitting into qualifying fleets for the first three days of the six-day competition. The final three days will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

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