Collisions and tangles at Kite European Championships

It was a meteorologist’s nightmare on the fourth day of racing at the 2022 Lepanto Formula Kite European Championships in Nafpaktos, Greece as the expected 12-13 knots never materialised, causing long waits ashore.

When fickle winds did emerge, they caused crashes and tangles among the riders struggling to come to grips with it on the bay.

A lack of wind meant no racing for the Silver and Bronze fleets across both the Men’s and Women’s classes today, meaning Breiana Whitehead (Australian Sailing Squad) was the only Aussie to take to the course.

Racing on Nafpaktos Bay – Robert Hajduk pic

It was a long wait ashore before any racing got underway for the Women’s Gold Fleet, with the AP coming down at 15:45 hours when 6-8 knots of westerly breeze hit the bay. The rules of the regatta state that the Gold Fleet would be reduced to ten riders tomorrow, so Whitehead had to stay among the top riders after finishing yesterday in fifth.

In the first race of the day, Magda Woyciechowska (POL) rounded the top mark first after a good start, holding that lead toward the finish. Behind her collisions and tangles happened at the top mark. Some riders couldn’t get back foiling, resulting in a swathe of DNCs across the fleet.

Riders were finding it tricky to keep their kites up and boards above the water in the light breezes. There was just enough wind for big 21 metre kites to keep riders powered up, but they had to do a lot of pumping to get going.

Fleet racing – Robert Hajduk pic

Whitehead noted how tricky the first race was; “Getting the start right was crucial, but my first start today didn’t go as planned. I thought I had all my gear ready but found a rip in my kite just as I was about to launch. After a quick fix, I had enough time to look around the course quickly and get straight into racing.

“In such tricky conditions you need that extra time to get your head around what’s happening on the course. Trying to stay clean and get around all the chaotic roundings was really the most important part of the race.”

Coach Shane Smith commented; “Breiana wasn’t the best at the first start but had a good start in Race 2 and finished in fifth place. The results in the fleet were so variable. I think for some of them it was a case of taking a risk, but they could end up in the part of the course where there was no wind.”

Gal Zukerman (ISR) took out the second race, where she found good gusts on the left-hand side of the course. Whitehead finished eighth, meaning she stayed in fifth overall before more Gold Fleet racing tomorrow.

Whitehead will now look at converting what she has learned so far into the Worlds, which start on October 8: “This event is really cool with high level of sailing, but I am also set on the Worlds.”

It was the same story with the Men’s fleets with only the Gold Fleet racing today. After a very tricky Race 1, that was won by young Italian Riccardo Pianosi, the second Gold fleet race was abandoned.

The wind became so unstable with kites dropping, forcing a postponed ashore in hope of it filling in later. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and the Silver and Bronze fleets never made it to the water.

Tomorrow is another day of Gold, Silver and Bronze races with priority on the Gold fleet depending on wind conditions. The fist possible Warning Signal has been moved to 10am, but with the breeze typically building up in the afternoon it might mean more waiting.

Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) and Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) at the 2022 Formula Kite European Championships overall results

Men’s after 6 races (1 discard):

Silver fleet:
4th – Hector Paturau (ASF) – 15, 10, (16), 6, 10, 7 (48 points)
7th – Scott Whitehead (ASS) – (13), 6, 12, 12, 8, 12 (50 points)
16th – Alex Landwehr (ASF) – 4, (31 DNC), 9, 15, 19, 14 (61 points)

Bronze fleet:
22nd – Daniel Self (AUS) – 18, 24, (31 UFD), 25, 22, 25 (113 points)

Women’s after 8 races (2 discards):

Gold fleet:
5th – Breiana Whitehead (ASS) – 4, 1, (7), 3, 5, 3, (14), 8 (24 points)
23rd – Jane Taylor (AUS) – (15), 12, 9, 11, 14, 7, (25 DNC), 16 (69 points)

Anna Zykova/AST media

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