Lepanto 2022 Formula Kite Europeans – Day 5

On Day 5 of the 2022 Lepanto Formula Kite European Championships in Nafpaktos, Greece there were plenty of place changing in the Men’s and Women’s fleets as Lauriane Nolot from France took the yellow bib away from compatriot Jessie Kampman, who slips to second overall, both booking their places in the four-rider final on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, in the Men’s gold fleet, Max Maeder extended his lead with three race wins from four in the morning session. Even an enforced retirement from the last Gold fleet race of the afternoon barely made a dent in the Singaporean’s grip on the Yellow bib.

Behind the 16-year-old from Asia, a fierce battle played out for the other top spots. A late charge from Benoit Gomez saw the big Frenchman rise to fourth overall and only a few points away from the two riders ahead of him.

Max Maeder extended his lead in the Men’s – Robert Hajduk pic

Riccardo Pianosi from Italy very nearly snatched second place away from Slovenia’s Toni Vodisek when the two rivals finished second and fifth respectively in the final Gold fleet race.

Finishing on equal points, Vodisek won the tiebreak thanks to his superior score of three race wins compared with the single race win by Pianosi. The importance of winning the tiebreak is that Vodisek has booked his place in the four-rider Men’s final alongside Maeder. Whereas Pianosi will have to fight his way through from his four-rider semi-final to get a shot at the medals.

At the other end of the Men’s top 10, Max Zakowski from Poland edged out Germany’s Jannis Maus by a point, leaving the German in 11th place overall from the men’s entry of 90. In the Women’s, it was Maggie Eillen Pescetto from Italy who missed the medal series cut by three points.

The Medal Series format leaves the door open for any of the top 10 to win the European title.

In previous events, riders have risen from sixth place or lower to win major titles. However, by leading the Qualifying and Gold fleet series, Maeder and Nolot have given themselves the best chance of securing the European titles on Sunday.

Breeze on the bay made for good racing – Robert Hajduk pic

“Just one more race,” smiled Nolot with a hopeful grin. “If I can close it out in one race then that’s what I’ll do, and it looks like it’s going to be windy. This has been a 21square metre championship so far this week, but tomorrow I hope to use the 11square metre kite.”

Maeder was also encouraged by the stronger forecast. “In strong winds the margin for error in some ways gets bigger, in some ways smaller,” said the analytical rider, who is looking to defend his European title from last year.

“I have done less training in lighter winds compared with a lot of riders on the tour, whereas I feel a bit more secure with my skills and experience in the stronger wind.”

With that said, nothing is a given in high-speed kitefoiling. Lying second in the first race of the day, with just a few metres to the finish, Gal Zukerman from Israel suffered a spectacular wipeout which dropped her back to 14th place and struggled to recover.

“It was one of the biggest crashes of my life,” she said smiling, despite the pain she had caused to her back. “The crash ripped off my helmet and it hurt quite a bit, but I had a massage when we came ashore and I feel good again now.”

Zukerman had been leading the final race before being overtaken by Nolot on the second upwind leg.

“Lauriane is fast! She has really good speed and she is hard to beat, but I’m happy with how I sailed today,” Zukerman commented.

Spain’s Gisela Pulido and Poland’s Izabela Satrjan also looked very comfortable in the stronger wind. Both riders raced consistently to pull themselves up to fourth and fifth overall respectively. Perhaps the strong breeze will make them serious contenders for the podium on Sunday.

Results Men’s:
1 SGP Max Maeder 16p
2 SLO Toni Vodisek 27p
3 ITA Riccardo Pianosi 27p

Results Women’s:
1 FRA Lauriane Nolot 17p
2 FRA Jessie Kampman 31p
3 ISR Gal Zukerman 39p

Full results: https://www.formulakite.org/2022europeans

Andy Rice

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