The world’s fastest kitefoil racers are poised to battle for KiteFoil World Series championship titles on the spectacular Italian resort island of Sardinia in the final fourth act of the globe-trotting tour.
It is the third successive year that the Sardinian capital of Cagliari has hosted the series where intense battles in the cutting-edge kiteboarding discipline will again be fought out on the Gulf of Angels off the pristine Poetto Beach.
But the 2019 edition’s climactic finale over the five-day Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam, sponsored byRegione Sardegna tourism and the City of Cagliari, is set to be one of the hardest-fought after kiteboarding won inclusion in the line-up for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Slovenian teenager Toni Vodisek sits in pole position to lift the crown after dominating the the tour’s first three stops in the “open” discipline, with its minimal restrictions designed to foster continued development.
The 19-year-old exploded to the top of the rankings this season, proving untouchable in a broad range of conditions, firstly in Gizzeria, Italy, and then at back-to-back stops in China last month.
Yet last week at the “closed” Formula Kite Europeans at Torregrande, Sardinia, proved the young Slovenian was not invincible. France’s Axel Mazella exposed the chink in Vodisek’s armour, taking the title while the Slovenian had to be content with the podium’s second step.
The twist sets the stage for an intriguing showdown on the Tyrrhenian Sea track, where they are among the 66-strong fleet from 21 nations and all six continents that will fight for a slice of the €20,000 prize purse up for grabs at the regatta, organised by Good Looking Entertainment and Yacht Club Cagliari.
But the duo are unlikely to have it all their own way, with the return of Formula Kite world champion, France’s Nico Parlier, and fellow countryman, reigning International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) World Series champion, Maxime Nocher.
Britain’s Connor Bainbridge, Germany’s Florian Gruber and another Frenchman Théo de Ramecourt, will also be doing their utmost to ensure that whoever triumphs in Cagliari and lifts the 2019 IKA KiteFoil crown will have earned it.
The KiteFoil world title carries the added incentive that the winners will pick up a share of the total of €27,000 set aside from each tour stop purse, to be divided equally between the top 3 men and top 3 women.
Among the 24 women battling in the mixed fleet, the US’s reigning four-times Formula Kite world champion, Daniela Moroz, 18, proved as dominant as Vodisek, with a hat-trick of tour stop victories.
But she will also be up against reigning KiteFoil World Series title holder, Kirstyn O’Brien (USA), and former Formula Kite world champion, Russia’s Elena Kalinina. With a fresh crop of newcomers fuelled by Olympic ambition—including Formula Kite European Champion, Britain’s Ellie Aldridge and Australia’s Breiana Whitehead—the mouthwatering battles will no doubt be fierce.