Formula Kite Worlds Day 5

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.

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.

Great Britain’s Ellie Aldridge 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 and compatriot Katie Dabson 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.

The light to medium conditions suited some better than others – Robert Hajduk pic

One race win away from a sixth world title is Daniela Moroz from the 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 French Lauriane Nolot only finished 23rd, so the USA rider extended her lead in the competition.

Although Moroz’s scores of 6,4,3,2 were not 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 from Israel 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.

Toni Vodisek from Slovenia 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,” he said.

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 from Singapore 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.

Two of 2021’s dominant performers remain in the hunt for the world title even if Vodisek and Maeder are looking hard to beat. French rider Axel Mazella retains the red bib after four top-six finishes kept the Frenchman in third overall.

The 2021 world champion Theo de Ramecourt from France kept his title defence hopes alive despite a spectacular crash in the third race while leading the pack around the windward mark. German Jannis Maus 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.

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.

Andy Rice

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