Formula Kite World Championships – Day 5

•    Breiana Whitehead moves up to 5th and makes the semis
•    Four medium air races conclude gold fleet for men and women
•    Poema Newland looks world-class after three race wins
•    But it’s still reigning World Champions Nolot and Maeder who lead overall
•    Pianosi and Aldridge also book their spots in the four-rider finals

© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Poema Newland powers her way to three bullets on Saturday
© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Poema Newland powers her way to three bullets on Saturday

Defending champions Max Maeder and Lauriane Nolot go into the final day of the 2024 Formula Kite World Championships in pole position. The riders from Singapore and France will wear the yellow jerseys on the day it matters most, the final of six days of high-speed competition in Hyères in the South of France.

The four-rider finals on Sunday afternoon will determine who comes away with which medal. Whoever is first to three wins in the final will win the gold medal. For winning the last two days of gold fleet competition, Nolot and Maeder carry the reward of two race wins into the final, which means they’re just one race away from defending their world titles.

© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Competitive start in men's gold fleet as Jannis Maus (GER) climbs to 5th
© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Competitive start in men’s gold fleet as Jannis Maus (GER) climbs to 5th

However on the strength of the last day of gold fleet racing on a sunny, medium-airs afternoon on the Mediterranean, Nolot will have to be at her best if she is to hold back the growing confidence of French rivalPoema Newland. Three race wins in a row was the perfect way for Newland to round off her gold fleet campaign and it lifts her to fourth overall. It was a massive turnaround in fortunes after a disappointing Friday for the Hyères resident. “Today is much better than yesterday. Because yesterday I couldn’t find the pace. I was really like a spectator of all the races. And today I was like, okay, let’s do it better.”

START SLOW AND YOU’RE DEAD

Now the question is how Newland will perform in four-rider races compared with a busy start line of 23 in gold fleet. “I’m still struggling with the starts at the moment, but it’s getting better and better. If you’re having bad starts in this fleet, you’re dead. Today I was getting off the line better and I felt good.”

© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Max Maeder continues to set the standard in Formula Kite
© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Max Maeder continues to set the standard in Formula Kite

Newland was also looking like the fastest downwind, which could prove a critical advantage on the final day with a more open race course. The last race saw the breeze drop a bit lighter and some rushed back to the beach to switch up from the 15 square metre to the 21 square metre. Newland decided to stay on the smaller kite. “I really don’t like sailing overpowered with the 21, so I made the choice to stay on the 15.” On the downwind legs Daniela Moroz of the USA was bearing down on the French rider with her bigger 21 but Newland did enough to hold on for the win.

Between Nolot’s victory in 2023 and Moroz’s six back-to-back victories up to her most recent title at the end of 2022, Newland today got the better of the world champions and she enjoyed the feeling. “It feels good. It’s a lot of pressure, it’s good racing with them. It makes you push your limit and push even harder. Obviously I’m tired because everyone was pushing so hard. But it’s like a good kind of tired. I’m happy with today, and I can go home and relax and be ready for tomorrow.”

© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Daniela Moroz gave herself a confidence-boosting day on the water
© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Daniela Moroz gave herself a confidence-boosting day on the water

AMERICAN DREAM

It was also a morale-boosting day for Moroz who, after dominating the sport for so many years, has spent the past couple of seasons coming to terms with the growing strength of other nations, France and Great Britain in particular. After winning the opening race of the day and proving she was competitive throughout the afternoon, the seventh-placed American rider can go into the last day feeling she has a shot at the podium. 

It’s just crazy to think this is the last big regatta before the Olympics,” said Moroz. “Tomorrow is the last big learning opportunity to enter into the semi-finals and try to fight to get a spot in the final. So yeah, it feels weird because it’s kind of over after this. This is the last big regatta and then everyone’s focus is on the Olympics. So it’s really exciting, but I just want to go and have fun out there. It’ll be cool. I’m excited.”

© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Axel Mazella (red) fights his way to victory ahead of Maeder
© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Axel Mazella (red) fights his way to victory ahead of Maeder

SPRINT FOR SECOND SPOT 

Aside from Nolot booking her place in the finale, there was a battle between Ellie Aldridge of Great Britain and Jessie Kampman of France to get the second spot. After a really strong week Kampman had a difficult day, failing to finish two of the four heats and missing out to the British rider who wears the blue jersey in the final while Kampman will have to fight her way out of the semi-final. 

Talking of the importance of booking a spot in the final, that’s what Riccardo Pianosi managed to do in the last men’s race of the afternoon. The young Italian surged to victory in the last gold fleet race and managed to grab back second spot from Axel Mazella of France by a single point. So Pianosi joins Max Maeder in the men’s final while Mazella will head up the line-up in Semi Final A and Austria’s Valentin Bontus will top the cast in Semi Final B on Sunday afternoon.

© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Mazella just missed a spot in the final but will fight hard in the medal series
© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Mazella just missed a spot in the final but will fight hard in the medal series

SLOVENTILATION

On past form Toni Vodisek would be expected to be challenging for the podium. However the Slovenian has been out of sorts this week after measuring in a new foil for the championship which has been misbehaving and has left him a bit prone to crashing. He has done just enough to scrape into the medal series in 10th place, so has a mountain to climb if he’s to get out of the semi-final stage and into the final. “I’ve seen some ups and downs, well mostly downs, but today’s been an up.” 

Vodisek switched back to an older, proven foil and looked more like his old self. “Today I definitely felt my speed coming back. I had some previous ventilation problems with the other foil and after changing now I definitely feel better. But even though I know there’s not going to be any ventilation I’m still a little holding back, because before with all the ventilation it was really hard on the body, especially the knees. And now there’s no ventilation but I’m still expecting it and so I’m slowly building up [my confidence].

© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Riccardo Pianosi wins the last race and kisses his girlfriend Georgia
© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Riccardo Pianosi wins the last race and kisses his girlfriend Georgia

RESULTS MEN

1. Maximilian Maeder – SGP -18.0 pts

2. Riccardo Pianosi – ITA – 34.0 pts

3. Axel Mazella – FRA – 35.0 pts 

RESULTS WOMEN

1. Lauriane Nolot – FRA – 33.0 pts

2. Ellie Aldridge – GBR – 37.0 pts

3. Jessie Kampman – FRA – 41.0 pts

Text Credits: IKA Media / Andy Rice
Photo Credits: IKA Media / Robert Hajduk
Video Credits: IKA Media / ICARUS Sports

To keep up to date with Formula Kite Worlds 2024, please visit formulakite.org/2024worlds or follow on:

Instagram: @kiteclasses
Facebook: @kiteclasses

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