Stormy start for Formula Kite Worlds >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News
Torre Grande, Italy (October 13, 2021) – The opening day of the 2021 Formula Kite World Championships was blocked by bad weather, allowing three races for the women but keeping the men’s division on hold until tomorrow. A total of 138 athletes — 89 men and 49 women from 34 countries and six continents — will compete October 13-17.
When the race started for the women, the fitness log tore a bit as Briton Katie Dabson scored well in her day’s races as the southwest breezes filled in at the end of the day. , leaving him second in the general classification.
Polish teenagers Nina Arcisz and Julia Damasiewicz picked up the pace as the race intensified, after the wind died down midway through the second race of the day. When the breeze shifted and returned, the duo found their rhythm in supercharged action that left them third and fourth in the standings respectively.
But Daniela Moroz, reigning International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) world champion, who aims to win a fifth consecutive title, once again showed her dominance to take three balls and lead the overall standings, despite a start. wobbly in its opening race.
The men have been split into three seeded fleets for the qualifying heats which will decide who takes part in the final day’s medal streak and has a chance for the podium. The women are divided into two fleets for their qualifying series.
But the opening of the five-day regatta to crown the 2021 Formula Kite World Champions has started slowly. With the breeze picking up at the end of the day, the race committee decided to send the female fleets first.
After the first race on the trapezoidal track in about 11 knots of northwesterly wind, the second race had to be abandoned when the wind died down, leaving some runners to swim with their kites in the water.
However, after a downpour, the wind returned with an offset of almost 180 degrees. With a steady 10 knot breeze blowing over the flat waters of the Gulf, the women’s fleets were able to complete five more races. The men had been released for the day because there would not have been enough daylight for other errands.
Running in the first fleet on the water, Moroz, riding his 21 m kite, had a jerky start to the campaign. She got off to a bad start and ended up in an unusual third position before finally getting the Polish Arcisz back on her feet.
“It was a really tough race,” said Arcisz, 17. But for half the race, I was ahead of Daniela Moroz. In the end I was on a 15m kite and she on 21m. The wind was irregular and changeable and I knew she would catch up with me and pass.
Moroz didn’t make the same mistake twice and led around the track, extending her lead in her day’s closing races with only Poland’s Damasiewicz following close behind.
In the alternative fleet, the Briton Dabson found himself up against the solid French duo of Poema Newland and Lauriane Nolot. But the French pair dropped points despite every scoring ball, leaving the more consistent Dabson in the lead.
“It was about not making mistakes and staying in the clear wind as much as possible,” said Dabson. “I had a moment in a race where someone put their kite in mine, but I survived. All in all, it was a good day. A good start.”
With the booming field of riders came greater diversity among the competitors. But one of the most striking facets of the 49-female fleet is the number of young mothers who somehow combine the pressures of family life with competition at the highest level.
Justina Kitchen from New Zealand, 32, is a mother of two and serves as a role model for some. A windsurfing Olympian, she quit competing after the birth of her daughters, now four and six years old. But the lure of other Olympics in the Formula Kite class brought her back to competition and she now trains after dropping the kids off at school.
German Leonie Meyer, 28, took inspiration from Kitchen after spending two months in Auckland with her and finding that it was possible to run a small family and compete at the highest level.
For Meyer, who just graduated from medical school and gave birth to a son five months ago, the race for the world championships has been tough. She has only managed six days of training this year, but now feels free to devote as much time as family life allows to her Olympic campaign.
Meyer, 28, who is still breastfeeding her son at the championships, already knows what he needs. Member of the German team since January, she is a veteran of an Olympic campaign in the 49er class from 2012 to 2016. For Meyer the decision to award Formula Kite two Olympic medals at the Paris 2024 Games after the cancellation of the mixed team relay, released some pressure.
“I know I will have to spend time in the hospital in the years to come for surgeries for my son, so for me it’s really good that it’s not a team sport anymore, even though I have liked the format, ”Meyer said. “I don’t want to be in the hospital with him, when my team-mates Jannis Maus and Florian Gruber are waiting for me to train.”
With her studies and birth behind her, Meyer plans to take the next six months off to focus on training for her Olympic campaign with the help of her boyfriend sharing the family chores.
“For the Worlds, I don’t have high expectations,” said Meyer. “I’ll be happy if I don’t run into the whole course. But after that I will do as many training camps and competitions as possible. It will make things harder with time management, but also easier because I won’t be 100% obsessed with running.
34-year-old American Kirstyn O’Brien is no stranger to the competing demands of family life and racing. A kitefoil racing veteran, mother of a girl and a boy, she has been racing the circuit for several years and is on the verge of making her debut on the US team.
O’Brien lives in the Dominican Republic with her pilot husband and has the luxury of afternoon training with his children after they finish school. Her 10-year-old son has taken his first steps in kitefoil, while her 9-year-old daughter enjoys strapless freestyle.
“The main thing for me is to keep all this in balance, so that my free time traveling for competitions is not to their detriment. When I am away, my husband is with the children. But it’s not just about events. When I’m at home it’s about making sure they hit the kite level they need to be.
Even luckier Tatsanee “Nam” Phisil, 30, from Thailand. His 10-year-old son lives with his parents in Phuket, which allows him to travel freely to national training camps, or in this case the Worlds, which are his first international competition.
“It’s perfect for me and perfect for my son,” said Nam, who has been kitefoiling for only 18 months. “He’s with my mom and dad and can go to school, otherwise it would be confusing for him.”
Chilean Ranny Grimdottir is another kitefoil novice drawn to the Olympic dream. Veteran twin tip and snowkite rider, she had been champion of Chile on several occasions. Her 10-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son always accompany the family when they kite, and have continued to do so since transferring her passion for kitefoil four months ago.
Grimdottir, a dentist who is currently a pandemic refugee living in Iceland, plans to return to Chile and hopes to win funding for an Olympic kitefoil campaign from the sailing federation after the Pan American Championships in Santiago in 2023.
“When we’re at home in Chile, the kids always come with us and love the world of kiteboarding,” said Grimdottir. “When my daughter was seven, I thought she would ask for a doll for her birthday, but instead she asked for kite lessons. For me, I love racing so kitefoil racing was a natural way to go.
Hungarian Virag Szenasi, 35, with two boys aged two and four, and a girl aged seven, has a different fight on her hands. With her young children accompanying her to the Worlds, she is lucky that they can all travel together. They join her as she trains on Lake Balaton, where the family owns a vacation home.
But the freestyle kitesurfing veteran, who converted to kitefoil racing just six months ago, found the challenge was to find the funds to buy gear and get to competitions. Already, the Hungarian Sailing Federation has said its funding will only come if it ranks in the top 30 percent of the world, a distant dream at this time.
Still, Szenasi, who works part-time as a lawyer and gives herself time to train, enjoys the ride even though the Worlds are only her second international competition after a baptism of fire at the KiteFoil World Series in Cagliari last week. .
“I succeeded in Cagliari,” she says. “I was not the last. I don’t know what my goals are. These are my first world championships. But, of course, everyone wants to go to the Olympics.
A total of 138 athletes — 89 men and 49 women from 34 countries and six continents — will compete October 13-17.
Format for the Olympic discipline of Formula Kite:
1. Male and female fleets initially divided into equal groups. The men will start in small evenly divided groups, and the women will start in small equally divided groups.
2. All the competitors run up to 12 races over three days, then are classified in bronze, silver and gold for men, silver and gold for women, for 4 additional races with points carried over.
3. At the end of the second day of racing in the gold fleet, the two best kiters from the men’s and women’s divisions automatically qualify for the final.
4. Places 3-14 in the men’s and women’s gold fleets advance to the semi-finals where they run two races in two groups of six, with the winners of each group advancing.
5. The final consists of the best 4 races until someone gets 3 wins
6. The leading kiter enters the final with two points and only has to win one race to close the regatta.
7. The second placed kiter enters the final with one point and must earn two or more to win the title.
8. The third and fourth placed kiters who entered the final with zero points must win three races. (This exact scenario unfolded in the men’s fleet of the European Championships where Maximillian Maeder of Singapore entered the final with zero points, won three consecutive races and won the 2021 Formula Kite European Championships)