Kitefoil: Singaporean Maximilian Maeder, 14, wins U19 World Championships, Sport News & Top Stories
SINGAPORE – Ahead of the 2021 Formula Kite Youth (Under-19) World Championships final, Singaporean kitefoil Maximilian Maeder knew he needed just one more victory to seal the title.
The 14-year-old had already won two crucial match points by placing first at the end of the preliminary round, where he put in an impressive performance – winning 13 of 16 races.
However, a hint of doubt still managed to creep into his mind before his first appearance in the World Championships final.
Speaking to the Straits Times in an interview with Zoom, he said: âThere was confidence because I just had to get a win, but the flip side was that my biggest competitor only had to get two wins for him to win the event.
“So it was a constant switch between these two states (of trust and doubt).”
He also found himself in a somewhat unfamiliar position at this point in the competition, adding: “I expected to be in the lead, but not by such a big margin.”
But he managed to dispel any doubt and sealed his first world championship title by winning the first race of a potential six in the final Sunday, July 18 at Hang Loose beach in Gizzeria, Italy.
With his victory, Max beat a field of 25 competitors in the five-day event and eventually finished ahead of Italy’s Riccardo Pianosi (second) and Dutchman Jis Van Hees (third) in the final race.
The competition against a group of kitefoilers who were mostly older than him did not faze the Singaporean at all.
âIn open classes I would compete against adults so having to compete against U-19s makes me feel better than usual because it’s against youngsters now,â he said.
“It’s really amazing to win my first world championship, especially against some really good competitors. I was incredibly happy to have won it.”
But it wasn’t all easy for the youngster either, who had to recover from a hardware malfunction in the 13th race of the preliminary lap, where he was unable to complete the race.
“Once I finished the first stage upwind the instability of the kite started to show up, so I had to rush to the beach and hurry to replace it for the next race”, a Maeder explained.
But he quickly regained his composure and finished strong, winning the remaining three races of the preliminaries.
Max added: âIn my previous competition, I had actually gone through the same thing, so I wasn’t stressed or panicked when I got back to the beach.
“I was just thinking of ways to get back to racing.”
Max’s love affair with kitesurfing began when he was six, after his Swiss father and Singaporean mother introduced him to the sport.
After competing in his first competition at the age of 10, he hasn’t looked back since and has won numerous competitions over the years, including the 2019 Formula Kite Asian Championships in Beihai, China. .
Currently, Max is based primarily in Croatia, where he trains five to six times a week, and at least 1.5 hours each time.
Funded mainly by his parents, he is the only kitefoiler in the Republic who regularly participates in competitions abroad because the sport is still quite new here.
But the Singapore Kitesurf Association (KAS) hopes Max’s world championship victory will inspire more young people to learn the sport.
Ong Rong Quan, Vice President of KAS, said: âThis will interest more young people in Singapore, whether they are young sailors or people aspiring to play an unconventional sport.
“It sets a precedent for others to follow and shows them how they can potentially get there as well.”
And with kitesurfing set to make its debut as an Olympic sport at the 2024 Paris Games, Max has set his sights on qualifying and representing the nation.
âIt is one of my goals to represent Singapore at the Olympics, alongside my goal to become the best in sport,â he said. “I have always liked the idea of âârunning in sport and I want to become the kitefoil world champion.”