KiteFoil World Series: French riders storm to championship glory

Axel Mazella and Poema Newland have become champions of Gran Canaria, the fifth and final event of the 2021 KiteFoil World Series.

Both French riders have also been crowned champions of the 2021 season. For Mazella, this is his third World Series title to go with his victories in 2017 and 2019. For Newland, her maiden victory in the Series is the perfect conclusion to a dramatic year of improvement.

Poema Newland and Axel Mazella holding the trophy with the beach in the background.
Poema Newland and Axel Mazella. Pic – IKA Media / Sailing Energy


Up until the start of the year, Newland admits she hadn’t been fully committed to an Olympic campaign for Paris 2024. But some time away from competition gave her the opportunity to think hard about her future. “Since January of 2021, I became really motivated and I’m really putting everything of my life into this goal,” said Newland. “That’s why maybe I did a big jump with my performance this year. Now I organise all of my life around kite-foiling.”

At the prize ceremony, the scale of Newland’s achievement hasn’t yet sunk in. “I don’t think I realise yet. Maybe after three or four drinks tonight I will start to understand!”

Poema Newland smiling while kitefoiling.
Poema Newland won the KiteFoil World Series Gran Canaria by 23 points. Pic – IKA Media / Sailing Energy
Poema Newland doing the rock symbol with her hands, smiling while walking on the beach after a day of racing.
“I became really motivated and I’m really putting everything of my life into this goal,” said Newland. Pic – IKA Media / Sailing Energy

Mazella was in dominant form again today, winning five of the six races in big swell, high-wind conditions that gusted over 25 knots. The question of the Frenchman winning this event never really looked in doubt. The battle for second place, on the other hand, remained in the balance until the very final downwind leg of the final race of the year. 

Denis Taradin took up the race lead in a bid to close down the two point deficit to his rival Connor Bainbridge who was back in third place behind Croatia’s Martin Dolenc. As things stood they would finish on equal points with the Russian Federation rider’s higher number of race wins giving him second overall after tiebreak.

However Dolenc slipped back, only to be replaced by Mazella who profited from an early gybe on the final run to slingshot his way past the Croatian and the Briton and into second place, close on the heels of Taradin. 

One more gybe to the final turning gate and Taradin stepped forward a fraction too far on his board and crashed spectacularly, his carbon bar disintegrating in the impact and the kite breaking loose and up into the air. Taradin’s charge for second place was over in an instant as Mazella, Bainbridge and the rest of the fleet swept past the Russian rider.

“It was a big crash, pretty dramatic,” said Taradin afterwards. “But I’m happy with third from the event and third from the season.”

Axel Mazella smiling while kite foiling.
Axel Mazella won the KiteFoil World Series Gran Canaria by 10 points. Pic – IKA Media / Sailing Energy

For Bainbridge, second place was a good way to finish his year, even if he expects more in the future. “Axel remains the benchmark for all of us in those conditions but the good thing for me was that on day one we were racing it out at the front together and there wasn’t much in it,” said Bainbridge. “Axel pulls ahead on all the little details that add up over the course of a race, and that’s an area that I need to improve. But I know where I need to get for next year.”

Mazella was delighted with his third season title victory: “Really good racing today, a lot to think about. In the last race I got a piece of rope that was floating in the water caught around my foil and I couldn’t get it off. I tried jumping the foil a few times but in the end I had to reverse a bit and then got free of it before I could get going again. Nothing is ever easy in kite-foiling! But I’m very happy to win here and to win this championship again.”

Axel Mazella doing the rock symbol with his hands, smiling while walking on the beach after a day of racing.
“I’m very happy to win here and to win this championship again,” said Mazella. Pic – IKA Media / Sailing Energy

IKA Class Manager Markus Schwendtner paid tribute to the riders: “It has been a difficult season but a great success in many ways too, and that’s down to many people who work to help bring this exciting sport alive, and most of all down to the talent, passion and enthusiasm of the riders who dedicate themselves to becoming the best kite-foiling athletes in the world.”

2021 KiteFoil World Series Gran Canaria – Men (11 races, three discards)
1    FRA     Axel Mazella                 8pts   
2    GBR    Connor Bainbridge      18pts
3    RYF     Denis Taradin               20pts

2021 KiteFoil World Series Gran Canaria – Women (11 races, three discards)
1    FRA    Poema Newland               77pts   
2    RYF    Valeria Garashchenko     100pts
3    AUT    Alina Kornelli                    105pts

2021 KiteFoil World Series Overall – Men (five events)
1      FRA     Axel Mazella                1893pts   
2      GBR    Connor Bainbridge      1854pts
3      RYF     Denis Taradin               1852pts

2021 KiteFoil World Series Overall – Women (five events)
1     FRA      Poema Newland              1558pts   
2     FRA      Lauriane Nolot                 1430pts
3     RYF      Valeria Garashchenko     1321pts

2021 KiteFoil World Series Overall – Masters (five events)
1     SUI       Kari Eisenhut          1268pts   
2     DEN     James Johnsen     1154pts
3     ITA       Simone Romano    570pts

2021 KiteFoil World Series Overall – Under 19 (five events)
1      ITA      Riccardo Pianosi     1125pts   
2      RYF     Mikhail Novikov       924pts
3      ITA      Angelo Soli               914pts

Full rankings: https://www.kitefoilworldseries.com


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