- A very start-stop-start kind of day with wildly variable wind on the lake
- Dramatic Medal Series for the men
- Max Maeder ends up winning gold in the men
- Lauriane Nolot seals gold in the women
- The bandwagon moves immediately to Sardinia for Kitefoil World Series Cagliari
A gusty, whirlwind final day of KiteFoil World Series Austria tested the riders to the limits of their physical and emotional abilities. After a frenetic Medal Series with a new knockout format, the four-rider final saw Max Maeder take gold in the men’s fleet. In the women Lauriane Nolot won two straight races in the final to overtake yellow bib wearer Breiana Whitehead and take gold.
This means the two reigning Formula Kite World Champions prevailed in the ever-changing mountain wind of Traunsee which never stayed the same for more than a minute. Selecting kite size was harder than ever, although the medium-size 15 square metre ended up being the most successful compromise.
Maeder and Nolot showed their class to beat some ambitious international competition to the top step of the podium. The six-race day on Friday was the highlight of the four-day competition, and it was the day that Maeder managed to rise to the top of the rankings, displacing his friend and training partner Martin Dolenc from Croatia for the yellow bib. “I have used this week to find out how far I could push my speed in difficult conditions without crashing, and I did crash in the last race that day, but mostly the approach worked well for me,” said Maeder. “It was hard to be consistent this week, and working my way out of difficult positions both tactically and strategically, that was the challenge of this week and that’s what I’m most pleased about.”
Taking the other places on the men’s podium were Flo Gruber of Germany in silver, the best result so far this year for the kiting veteran and multiple world champion, and Denis Taradin of Cyprus in bronze. After working together for exactly 10 years, Alexei Chibizov set Taradin a regatta target of ‘no crashing’. The Cypriot rider has crashed every regatta for the past decade but this was the event where he managed to stay on the foil when all around him others were falling off theirs, so mission accomplished for the Cypriot rider.
Nolot won here two years ago but slipped to seventh in 2022 when the winds were very light. Although she didn’t particularly enjoy last year’s event she returned this year with a different attitude. “I have realised I need to learn to enjoy racing in the light conditions because in Marseille for the Olympics we will need to be ready for anything and you can’t afford to go into any race with a bad attitude about the wind conditions. Here we had leaves in the water and I thought I was going to crash on one of the downwinds today with leaves stuck to my foil but I held on and it’s nice to win again after taking a break from competition. It’s really nice to be back and I’m looking forward to Cagliari next week.”
After a really strong performance in the lighter winds earlier in the week, Whitehead couldn’t quite hold on to Nolot but the Australian still sailed brilliantly for silver and last year’s Traunsee winner Julia Damasiewicz took bronze for Poland.
It was an action-packed day from start to finish. One of the stand-out performers who rose from 10th to 6th overall was Jan Koszowski, the Polish rider seizing his chances in the new-format Medal Series and winning the repechage round. Sam Dickinson of Great Britain had a tough day on the water which only got worse as he was about to step off a rib on to a wooden pontoon only to lose his footing. Still clutching his wet kite in his arms, Dickinson fell awkwardly between the boat and the pontoon and into the water, dislocating his shoulder in the process. A quick trip in the ambulance to the nearest hospital and the British rider’s shoulder was successfully relocated and he was back to the venue in time to receive his 8th place medal at the closing ceremony.
Traunsee always serves up the most challenging of kiting conditions but the riders love coming back here year after year. There is almost zero time for rest and recuperation as the roadshow moves on to Kitefoil World Series Cagliari in the south of Sardinia, with racing set to begin this Thursday, 12 October.
1. Maximilian Maeder SGP Gold
2. Flo Gruber GER Silver
3. Denis Taradin CRO Bronze
1. Lauriane Nolot FRA Gold
2. Breiana Whitehead AUS Silver
3. Julia Damasiewicz POL Bronze
Text Credits: KiteFoil World Series Austria / Andy Rice
Photo Credits: IKA media / Robert Hajdu
Video Credits: ICARUS Sports