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Friday, 22 September 2017 16:42

It is a measure of French dominance of kitefoil racing that four of the nation’s riders have a lock on the leaderboard going into the final day’s competition at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup in China.

But while the quartet from France—the cradle of kitefoiling—are close friends off the water, and even in some cases Enata foils and kites team-mates, they are bitter rivals on the course seeking any opportunity to best on another when the starting flag drops.

All are at a loss to explain, though, how their sometime training partner Axel Mazella (FRA) has so utterly dominated the third and penultimate stop of the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup in Pingtan, seizing 14 bullets in 15 races.

On the fourth of the five-day competition on the East China Sea Mazella scooped a perfect five bullets. But more than that, in an incredible performance, he led every mark rounding on the two laps of the windward-leeward course on flat water in breezes that varied from 8kts to 11kts.

“We try to train together, we have the same equipment, yet when we try to work out why he [Mazella] is always winning, we have no idea,” said Enata rider Julien Kerneur (FRA), lying fourth overall. “In the races I had pretty clear starts and I was always with Mazella at the top mark. But in the end I was fighting with Theo Lhostis (FRA) for second and third spots.”

The Team Enata trio were only split by their compatriot Theo de Ramecourt, who was keeping pace on Flysurfer Sonic Race kites and a Mike’s Lab foil, finishing the day third on the leaderboard, slipping one place from the start of the day.

In the women’s division—competing in the mixed fleet of 21 riders from 13 nations—Elena Kalinina (RUS) again led her key rival, France’s Alexia Fancelli, but was using the opportunity to focus on the men around her to finesse her tactics and improve her speed.

“I was pleased that I could finish in the top ten of the fleet sometimes,” said Kalinina. “I look at the guys around me and try to figure out who I should be ahead of. I was starting near the committee boat but found I was among the faster men and getting a lot of turbulence from foils and kites. So it was better for me to start near the pin end of the line.”

Short on competition experience this year, Kalinina believes the practise in Pingtan, building on her victory at the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup last week in Weifang, has been invaluable in pushing her to get faster.

The back-to-back KiteFoil GoldCup stops in China set the scene for the globe-trotting tour’s finale in Italy next month at the Sardinia Kiteboarding Grand Slam where the winner will be crowned world champion in the IKA KiteFoil class, with a trophy for the best overall rider of the tour.

Theo de Ramecourt is certainly hoping the French riders can repeat the dominance they have shown so far in Pingtan at Cagliari in Italy. He believes the vibrancy of the French foil scene is one of their big advantages, even though they rarely now train together.

“We are super-motivated,” said de Ramecourt. “We do a lot of competitions together, which gives us a lot of experience. Individually, we’re also working on the development of the kites and foils, and riding the gear that fits us.”


OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 15 RACES (3 DISCARDS)

1. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 12 pts
2. Theo Lhostis (FRA) - 37 pts
3. Theo De Ramecourt (FRA) - 44 pts
4. Julien Kerneur (FRA) -37 pts
5 .Florian Gruber (GER) - 60 pts

TOP RANKED WOMEN AFTER 10 RACES (2 DISCARDS)
1. Elena Kalinina - 128 pts
2. Alexia Fancelli (FRA) - 154 pts
3. Kirstyn O'Brien - 176 pts

Full results and live scoring:www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Racing continues through to 23 September in tandem with the TT:R Open World Championships.

Thursday, 21 September 2017 15:03

In what turned out to be a long day at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KifeFoil GoldCup in Pingtan, eastern China, France’s Axel Mazella extended his commanding overall lead.

The onshore breeze blowing over the East China Sea’s flat waters unexpectedly built quickly to an adequate 7kts to 9kts, leaving some riders scrambling to get off the beach and upwind to the course area.

But in the day’s first race—ultimately the day’s only race after the breeze faded, not to return—Mazella was only one of five of the 21 riders on the start line in time when the horn sounded and the flag dropped.

For the Frenchman, on his distinctive red 21m Enata kite and foil, it appears to matter little whether he is pursued by just four rivals or the entire fleet. He led round the first top mark and never looked back, stretching his advantage to a comfortable lead by the reaching finish after two searingly-fast laps of the windward-leeward track.

Now the peerless Mazella has bagged nine bullets from 10 races over the first three days of five at the Pingtan stop of the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup, the penultimate leg of the series that wraps up in two weeks, when the IKA KiteFoil world champion will be crowned in Sardinia, Italy.

The tour’s Pingtan stop is being staged as part of the China International Kiteboarding Festival, which is also hosting the inaugural IKA TT:R World Championships being run in tandem.

But with the breezes again too light for the twin-tip competitors, it was down to the foil racers to take to the course at what is ordinarily a notoriously windy venue, though the weather patterns have been disrupted by a typhoon that passed nearby recently.

The women’s division, racing among the mixed fleet from 13 nations, saw former Formula Kite world champion, Elena Kalinina (RUS), cement her lead over closest rival, Alexia Fancelli (FRA).

In a rare mistake the Frenchwoman, who was late leaving the beach, missed a tack in her efforts to get upwind to the start line and put her 19m kite in the water, struggling to relaunch in the light breeze. Luckily for her the day’s second back-to-back race was postponed minutes before the start when the wind fell below the required 6kts.

Another rider who paid the price for the error of not getting out early enough was Alejandro Climent Hernandez (ESP). On his 20m F-one Diablo3 kite and Mike’s Lab foil he has been quick and posted good results in the opening days.

But he could only finish tenth which, even though he was able to discard the result, pushed him two places down the order to seventh overall. He believes that with more races he will be able to claw his way back up the rankings.

“I hope we get more races so that I can improve my position,” said Climent Hernandez. “I feel I’m doing well and I’ve improved my skills a lot. My speed is good and my gear is well tuned. These conditions are nice, too.”

Croatia’s Martin Dolenc, 17, lies just behind the Spaniard on the leaderboard, but has been getting quicker as the regatta progresses, taking second on the day to Mazella and building on a run of consistently high-placed finishes.

“In light wind like today I’m going really good,” he said, explaining his improving performances. “Either that, or strong wind and big waves. That’s when I go best, when it’s a bit technical.”

The IKA TT:R European champion, who is also looking to add the TT:R World title to his haul, may get his wish if the predicted freshening winds of the competition’s closing days show up.


OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 10 RACES (2 DISCARDS)

1. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 8 pts
1. Theo De Ramecourt (FRA) - 25 pts
3. Theo Lhostis (FRA) - 32 pts
4. Julien Kerneur (FRA) -36 pts
5. Alexander Bachev (BUL) - 38 pts

TOP RANKED WOMEN AFTER 10 RACES (2 DISCARDS)
1. Elena Kalinina - 89 pts
2. Alexia Fancelli (FRA) - 104 pts
3. Kirstyn O'Brien - 176 pts

Full results and live scoring:www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Racing continues through to 23 September in tandem with the TT:R Open World Championships.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 16:31

If the venue had changed, the storyline remained the same. France’s Axel Mazella was almost flawless in the first clashes of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup on Pingtan Island, eastern China.

Mazella racked up an incredible eight bullets from nine races in Pingtan, picking up where he had left off a few days earlier in Weifang at the first of the two back-to-back KiteFoil GoldCup stops in China.

But if the Frenchman had been composed to take victory at the second stop of the KiteFoil GoldCup tour—scoring a clutch of bullets—he appears close to peerless in the third and penultimate act of the drama in Pingtan on the East China Sea.

He opened his account on day one of the five-day regatta that is part of the China International Kiteboarding Festival with two wins from two after much of the time was given over to the IKA TT:R World Championships which are being run in tandem.

Yet on day two in light, shifty breezes that started at around 10kts and eased slowly as the races progressed Mazella, on his 21m Enata kite and foil, took six of the seven races with apparent ease to leave clear blue water between him and the chasing pack on the leaderboard.

In the women’s division—racing among the mixed fleet of 21 riders from 13 nations—Russia’s Elena Kalinina was battling with Alexia Fancelli (FRA) and for the most part seemed to have he measure of the Frenchwoman, though their races were hard fought.

With the finale of the globe-trotting IKA KiteFoil Gold series just two weeks away in Italy at the Sardinia Kiteboarding Grand Slam, with the  trophy going to the tour’s best rider, and KiteFoil World Champion title going to the event winner, none are anxious to put a foot wrong.

In Mazella’s wake, his countryman Theo de Ramecourt was closer than most to giving the leader a run for his money. He pushed Mazella hard in race after race and often led for large parts of the two laps of the windward-leeward course, only to lose out on the last down-wind leg and reach to finish.

De Ramecourt, on his 21m Flysurfer Sonic Race kite, scored a bullet and a handful of second and third place finishes to leave him fourth on the leaderboard. But in day two’s first race he felt he had a win in the bag only to catch some debris that derailed his opportunity.

“On the last downwind leg I caught something in the water and ended up way back,” said de Ramecourt. “But apart from that I love the conditions here because they’re a bit more technical than we saw in Weifang. It’s a bit choppier, there are wind holes and it’s shifting, all of which I like.”

Bulgaria’s Alex Bachev, on his Mike’s Lab foil and 19m Ozone R1V2 kite, had another good day that built on his overnight second spot courtesy of two third place finishes on day one. Perhaps his day two foray was not quite so fortuitous, but consistent high-placed finishes kept him in the hunt even after he crashed and lost his board in one race just before crossing the line.

“I had a good opening day, and I think we’re all quite close performance-wise,” said Bachev. “So in the end it’s all about not making any mistakes and good strategy. You’ve got to read the wind shifts. Sometimes it was stronger outside, sometimes inside. When you’re going upwind, you can feel the power and make a call where it’s likely to be best.”


OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 9 RACES (1 DISCARD)

1. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 8 pts
1. Theo De Ramecourt (FRA) - 32 pts
3. Alexander Bachev (BUL) - 36 pts
4. Florian Gruber (GER)- 40 pts
5. Alejandro Climent (ESP) - 43 pts


TOP RANKED WOMEN AFTER 9 RACES (1 DISCARD)
1. Elena Kalinina - 92 pts
2. Alexia Fancelli (FRA) - 104 pts
3. Kirstyn O'Brien - 176 pts

Full results and live scoring:www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Racing continues through to 23 September in tandem with the TT:R Open World Championships.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017 16:33

In an anxious final day France’s Axel Mazella sealed victory at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup in eastern China with a pair of assured bullets.

But heading out on to the water with his 21m kite in the light airs that had taken most of the day to fill, overnight leader Mazella was aware that Britain’s Guy Bridge just behind in second place overall was breathing down his neck and the slightest mistake could cost him the event.

In the end the Team Enata foils and kites’ poster boy held the lead almost from the start of the first race. He finished well ahead in the 7kts to 8kts of breeze on two laps of the windward-leeward track on the Yellow Sea’s smooth waters.

In the light airs Bridge, on his 21m Flysurfer Sonic Race kite and Levitaz Bionic foil, could only manage third behind his other key rival, Enata’s Theo Lhostis (FRA). But in the day’s second race as the breeze freshened to 9kts Bridge was hot on Mazella’s heels all the way around the course, with only a few seconds separating them at the end.

“I am really happy,” said Mazella. “In the first race I was a bit nervous because Guy Bridge was close enough on points that if he won and I came second or worse, I could lose the overall lead. When I got the win in that race I was able to relax. Still, in the second race, when the wind was a little bit stronger, he was better and it was much closer.”

The contest among the women, racing in the mixed fleet, was similarly tight. But even with former Formula Kite World Champion Elena Kalinina (RUS) and France’s Alexia Fancelli locked together on points at the start of the day, the Russian edged it when she twice crossed the line just ahead of her rival, with the fast-improving Anaïs Mai Desjardins (FRA) close behind taking the third podium spot.

The fifth and final day of the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup was marked by the light breezes that characterised the event which, with €50,000 in prize money up for grabs is the richest of the four-stop tour that travels south to China’s windy Pingtan Island next week.

The tour will wrap up next month at the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup finale in Italy at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam on Cagliari’s Poetto Beach, with the event winner crowned the IKA KiteFoil World Champion, while the KiteFoil GoldCup trophy will go to the best rider of the tour.

Despite Mazella’s win in Weifang, Guy Bridge, 18, could stake a claim to being the most exciting rider. On day three of the five-day regatta, Bridge racked up an amazing four bullets from six races and was a whisker from taking a fifth in the stiffer breezes that hit 12kts to 14kts.

For the younger brother of seasoned racer Olly Bridge (GBR), it was a stellar performance and marked his breakthrough on a day when he lived up to the promise he had hinted at for some time, always showing great pace but lacking consistency.

After grabbing the overall lead with his audacious performance, his disappointment was palpable when he surrendered the top spot to Mazella on day four after he struck something in the water and was thrown from his foil, struggling to get going again in the ultra-light breeze.

But even as he battled to close the two-point gap to Mazella in the final day’s two races, he knew it would be tall order to overhaul his French rival in the lighter breezes that favour his physique and Enata foil and kite set-up.

Bridge was phlegmatic about his runner-up spot. “I’m pleased with that, especially in these light winds. I’ve never done anywhere near as well at a major event so, really, it’s all good. I didn’t expect too much coming to China.”

Bridge was pushed all the way by Lhostis, also 18, who took the third podium spot, and was delighted with his showing that similarly signalled his best run at a big event.

“I’m very, very happy,” said the ever-cheerful Lhostis. “I think my pace and racing is getting better and better. It was so close between me and Guy Bridge. On the course I was looking out, ‘where is Guy, where is Guy?’”

For Elena Kalinina the worry was where was Alexia Fancelli?  The Russian found herself stretched as they almost matched raced one another around the track in both races.

“She was pushing me at the start, on the the up-wind and down-wind  legs when she didn’t want me to tack or gybe,” she said. “But I’m happy. It was very interesting. Very often at events the level is so different. But we were very similar and it was good. We were so close.”


OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 12 RACES (2 DISCARDS)

1. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 14 pts
1. Guy Bridge (GBR) - 19 pts
3. Theo Lhostis (FRA) - 23 pts
4. Oliver Bridge (GBR) - 51 pts
5. Theo De Ramecourt (FRA) - 56 pts


TOP RANKED WOMEN AFTER 12 RACES (2 DISCARDS)
1. Elena Kalinina - 152 pts
2. Alexia Fancelli (FRA) - 154 pts
3. Anais Mai Desjarding (FRA) - 181 pts

Full results and live scoring:www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

The fleet is now heading to Pingtan Island for the second part of the Chinese back-to-back regattas starting on September 18, 2018.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 14:25

It was all change yet again at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup in eastern China as the lead in the men’s and women’s divisions switched hands on the penultimate day of competition.

But the fickle breezes that have dogged the regatta on the Yellow Sea off Weifang’s Joy Sea Beach returned and the one race that was possible when the wind briefly struggled above the 6kts threshold threw up upset.

The overnight leader, Britain’s Guy Bridge, who had gone top after scoring four scintillating bullets on day three of the five-day regatta, suffered the crushing disappointment catching debris early in the race ending any hope of a good finish.

“I caught a plastic bag or hit something on the first upwind leg and fell off the foil,” said Bridge, 18. “Just to get going again in the super-light wind I had to loop my 21m kite like crazy. There were so many holes in the wind and glassy patches on the water all over the course.”

The misfortune cost Bridge the top spot on the leaderboard—even though he was able to discard the eighth place finish—and allowed France’s Axel Mazella, of Team Enata foils and kites, back through into pole position with another crucial bullet to bring his tally to five.

Former Formula Kite world champion, Russia’s Elena Kalinina, finally grabbed the top of the women’s leaderboard with a win over France’s Alexia Fancelli, but only by virtue of count-backs as both remain locked equal on points as they race in the mixed fleet.

The 26 riders from 14 nations endured a long day waiting for the breeze to fill, a fate they seem unlikely to suffer next week when they travel to the notoriously windy island of Pingtan, the second of two IKA KiteFoil GoldCup stops in China.

The back-to-back events punctuate the four-stop tour, which began in South Korea in May and will conclude in Italy next month with the KiteFoil GoldCup finale in Italy at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam on Poetto Beach, Cagliari.

Yet at Weifang even Mazella initially had a tough time thanks a poor start when he was caught out by a wind shift. But by the top mark had pulled a minute ahead of of his closest rivals on his 21m kite and foil that work well in the light airs and flat water.

Even then he admitted there was no margin for error with a fluffed gybe or tack—a strong possibility in the unpredictable wind holes—likely to mean the difference between a well-placed finish and a poor one down the order. Mazella conceded he had a few close calls, but saw off challenges from Britain’s Olly Bridge in second, and French Enata team-mate Theo Lhostis in third.

“I chose all the time to stay in the centre of the course,” said Mazella. “When the wind’s so light and shifty it’s far less risky staying down the middle as you’re far less likely to suffer from a big shift. It’s also much easier to judge the layline.”

For Kalinina the challenges of racing in such light conditions are immense, but she takes heart from the fact that she and rivals Fancelli and Anaïs Mai Desjardins (FRA) are able to complete the course in tight contests.

“I’m quite surprised,” said Kalinina. “Last year the girls could not have finished the race in such conditions. But now we can, and it’s some of the men who can’t finish. Kites have got better, but our ability to race in light winds has improved a lot too.”


OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 10 RACES (2 DISCARDS)

1. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 12 pts
1. Guy Bridge (GBR) - 14 pts
3. Theo Lhostis (FRA) - 19 pts
4. Oliver Bridge (GBR) - 38 pts
5. Theo De Ramecourt (FRA) - 42 pts


TOP RANKED WOMEN AFTER 10 RACES (2 DISCARDS)
1. Elena Kalinina - 122 pts
2. Alexia Fancelli (FRA) - 122 pts
3. Anais Mai Desjarding (FRA) - 145 pts

Full results and live scoring:www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Racing continues through to Wednesday, September 13, 2017, before the fleet heads to Pingtan Island for the second part of the Chinese back-to-back regattas starting on September 18, 2018.

Monday, 11 September 2017 15:43

British teenager Guy Bridge notched up a remarkable four bullets to seize to top of the leaderboard at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup in eastern China.

            Bridge, younger brother of Olly, might even have made it five wins had he not misjudged a dramatic wind shift that saw him overhauled by his closest rivals on the long reach to finish line on the last of day’s six races.

            But Bridge’s stellar showing at the second of the four-stop IKA KiteFoil GoldCup tour in Weifang saw him leapfrog his nearest competition in the standings, France’s Axel Mazella and Theo Lhostis, both of team Enata foils and kites that had dominated proceedings.

            Former Formula Kite world champion, Russia’s Elena Kalinina, put another dampener on the Enata party when she found her groove and reeled in Alexia Fancelli (FRA), to go even on points.

            Day three of the five days of competition—to be followed almost immediately by another KiteFoil GoldCup stop on the Chinese island of Pingtan—saw the 26 riders from 14 nations on the water early as the breeze that had been fickle from the outset finally showed up.

            The characteristic north-westerly breeze soon hit an ideal 12kts to 14kts blowing over the clear, flat waters of the Yellow Sea, perfect for the foilers’ scorching pace around the two laps of the windward-leeward track with a reach to the finish near the pristine Joy Sea Beach.

            Guy Bridge, 18, won the first three back-to-back races of the day, trading places at the top and bottom marks with Mazella, Lhostis and France’s Theo de Ramecourt. But on his 15m Flysurfer Sonic Race and Levitaz foil, Bridge matched the pace he had shown early on with consistency and tactical assurance.

            “I stayed on the inside on the left-hand side of the course on the up-wind legs,” said Bridge. “The wind was good there and there was a bit of a lift that made it easier to make the mark, though once just skated around it. Going outside it was difficult to see the lay line.”

            But in his battles with Mazella, who had scored three bullets from three in the opening two days, Bridge did not have it all his own way as the breeze eased and stiffened continually, forcing the riders to come to the beach between races and switch to bigger or smaller kites.

            Even though Mazella added another bullet and a handful of second and third spots to his tally, the Frenchman conceded it had not been his best day as he struggled for the lack of a kite to bridge the gap between his 15m and 21m kites.

            “I don’t have a 17m or a 19m kite, so when I took the 21m I was often overpowered, or with the 15m I was underpowered,” said Mazella. “I think the kite size thing was my biggest problem, but Guy Bridge is really strong, has good speed and makes no mistakes.”

            His Enata team-mate and countrywoman, Alexia Fancelli, had another good outing but found herself swapping places with Kalinina as they raced among the mixed fleet.

            “Elena Kalinina and I had some good battles,” said Fancelli. “I was on my 15m kite the whole time and so was she. But I think that she just better than me on the 15m kite. For example, in the last race I was below where the wind was more favourable, but she still got past me.”


OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 9 RACES (1 DISCARD)

1. Guy Bridge (GBR) - 14 pts
2. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 15 pts
3. Theo Lhostis (FRA) - 19 pts
4. Theo De Ramecourt (FRA) - 42 pts
5. Oliver Bridge (GBR) - 46 pts

TOP RANKED WOMEN AFTER 9 RACES
1. Alexia Fancelli (FRA) - 128 pts
2. Elena Kalinina - 128 pts
3. Anais Mai Desjarding (FRA) - 153 pts

Full results and live scoring:www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Racing continues through to Wednesday, September 13, 2017, before the fleet heads to Pingtan Island for the second part of the Chinese back-to-back regattas starting on September 18, 2018.

Sunday, 10 September 2017 13:52

France’s Axel Mazella and Alexia Fancelli tightened their grip on the leaderboard’s top spots with wins in the men’s and women’s divisions at the International Kiteboard Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup in China.

            Mazella scored his third consecutive bullet from three races while Fancelli made it two wins from three. Both recently signed with the ambitious Dubai-based kite and foil brand, Enata, whose riders are giving rivals something to think about.

            But if day two of the second stop of the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup series in Weifang Binhai went according to script for the French duo, the same could not be said for race officials who had to wait all day for the the shifty, fickle breeze to finally fill.

            In the overcast conditions it was possible in the end to get only one race away, but the breeze that had been absent quickly built to 15kts to 17kts forcing riders who had been first out on the water to return for smaller kites.

            Yet all 26 riders from 14 nations who have travelled to Weifang for the first of two back-to-back KiteFoil GoldCup stops in China made it to the start line on the Yellow Sea’s smooth waters.

            The Team Enata trio of Mazella, Theo Lhostis (FRA) and Julien Kerneur (FRA), with their distinctive unmarked red foil kites, got a jump on the fleet when they correctly figured the shifting breeze handed the advantage to a risky port-tack start.

            But by the first upwind mark Theo de Ramecourt (FRA), riding a 15m Flysurfer Sonic kite and Mike’s Lab foil, had clawed back some of the leaders’ advantage and rounded just behind Mazella and Lhostis, who went on to take the top spots.

            De Ramecourt eventually finished fifth just behind brothers Guy and Olly Bridge (GBR) riding a Flysurfer Sonic kite and Levitaz foil combo, but was pleased with his showing after having to watch the port-tack starters steal a march on the fleet.

            “Like the others chasing the leaders I stayed on the inside closer the the shore, where the water was flatter and that allowed us to catch up, so I’m pretty happy with that,” said de Ramecourt.

            Olly Bridge, was fairly content with his outing after having to wait the whole day for lack of wind, but blamed his tactical mistake in not spotting the potential for a pin-end start on the fact that he was late leaving the beach in the changeable winds.

            “Actually, it was quite nice out there,” said Bridge. “Nice for my 15m. It felt good and I’ve good speed. But we made the error of not spotting the port tack potential. I was late out and didn’t get a chance to look at it properly.”

            Former Formula Kite World Champion, Russia’s Elena Kalinina, is another willing to acknowledge her own mistakes are costing her, as she sits third overall behind Fancelli and equal on points with teenager Anaïs Mai Desjardins (FRA).

            Kalinina was one of the first riders out on her 18m Elf Joker kite and Levitaz foil but quickly returned to change down to her 11m. Yet in the rush she rigged her lines wrongly, symptomatic of her regatta so far.

            “I feel I have good speed, but I’m just making too many mistakes,” she said. “Yesterday it was tactical errors when I went into a wind hole, today it was my gear. The problem’s with the rider, not the gear.”


OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 3 RACES
1. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 3 pts
2. Theo Lhostis (FRA) - 7 pts
3. Guy Bridge (GBR) - 14 pts
4. Oliver Bridge (GBR) - 15 pts
5. Julien Kerneur (FRA) - 16 pts

TOP RANKED WOMEN AFTER 3 RACES
1. Alexia Fancelli (FRA) - 57 pts
2. Anais Mai Desjardin - 61 pts
3. Elena Kalinina - 61 pts

Full results:www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Racing continues through to Wednesday, September 13, 2017, before the fleet heads to Pingtan Island for the second part of the Chinese back-to-back regattas starting on September 18, 2018.

Sunday, 10 September 2017 05:21

Most of the world’s fastest kitefoilers have been limbering up for the second stop of the International Kiteboarding Association’s (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup series in eastern China.

            True to form, the Yellow Sea off Weifang Binhai has been serving up flat waters and light breezes characteristic of the time of year. But the foilers on their largest 21m kites have been notching up impressive speeds as they test their pace against rivals and team-mates.

            Thirty-eight riders from 16 countries registered for the KiteFoil GoldCup event and Twin-Tip:Racing (TT:R) Open Slalom competition scheduled to run simultaneously over five days of competition if the wind proves sufficiently strong for both.

            France’s Axel Mazella made a flawless start to his campaign, racking up two bullets from two races.

            Mazella, still finding his feet on kites and foils from relative new-comer Enata, used the equipment combination to maximum effect leaving the field in his wake on the Yellow Sea’s near-glassy waters in a breeze that struggled to reach 8kts.

            But on his unmarked red 21m kite—the size favoured by most rivals—he was able to scythe his way flat out around the two laps of the windward-leeward course, with 0.8 nautical miles between top and bottom marks, in a remarkable 14 minutes.

            With the fickle light airs particularly difficult on Joy Sea Beach at Weifang Binhai, race officials were forced to set course far off the packed shoreline with the top mark barely visible through the haze in the sultry heat.

            Even then, it was late afternoon before the breeze kicked in sufficiently to get the only two races of the day away in the opening salvos of the second stop of the “open” IKA KiteFoil GoldCup series, which has no equipment restrictions.

            The Weifang Binhai event is the first of two sitting back-to-back in China, with the second scheduled for the reliably windy Pingtan Island, setting up the KiteFoil GoldCup finale in Italy at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam at Poetto Beach, Cagliari, next month.

            But in a measure of Weifang Binhai’s commitment to driving its global profile through international kiteboarding, the local authorities again staged a sparkling opening ceremony to match their ambition for the region.

            That scintillating opening was mirrored by the racing among the 26 riders from 14 nations who have made their way to China. Yet in the first exchanges Mazella, racing in the mixed fleet of men and women, was almost untouchable in an ominous signal for rivals in the classy field.

            “The conditions were very light, maybe just 4kts to 6kts,” said Mazella. “But with my 21m kite it was the best for these conditions in flat water. Still, I hope we get a little bit more wind for the next days.”

            In the day’s races Mazella’s Enata team-mate riding identical equipment, Theo Lhostis (FRA), was close to matching his countryman’s pace, scoring a third and a second to leave him in second spot overall.

            But Britain’s Guy Bridge, younger brother of Olly, managed to split the pair in the day’s first race taking a good second on his Levitaz foil and 21m Flysurfer Sonic kite.

            “In the first race I had a good start, and a good first leg on starboard, which was quite long, so it’s difficult for anyone to get past. The second race wasn’t so good. There were a lot of holes and I was tacking and looping the kite trying to get to the top mark.”

            For the women, the second race in a dying breeze proved difficult. With all of them further back they were unable to complete the race. But in the first race France’s Alexia Fancelli won followed by Enata team-mate and countrywoman Anaïs Mai Desjardins, each outstripping former world champion Elena Kalinina (RUS).

            Desjardins, the winner of the first leg of the KiteFoil GoldCup in Korea in May and also a new convert to the Enata team, was delighted with her showing on unfamiliar equipment.

            “The first race today, compared to last year when I had old stuff, was very, very good. I’m really proud of myself,” said Desjardins. “I’m not used to light winds where I live in Dunkirk. But the 19m kite that I’ve used only three times was perfect.”

OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 2 RACES
1. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 2 pts
2. Theo Lhostis (FRA) - 5 pts
3. Alexander Bachev (BUL) - 10 pts
4. Julien Kerneur (FRA) - 10 pts
5. Guy Bridge (GBR) - 11 pts

Full results:www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Thursday, 07 September 2017 19:22

The opening clashes of the much-anticipated second stop of the 2017 International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup are just hours away with the leading contenders for the crown assembled on the shores of the Yellow Sea, eastern China.

            It is the third year in succession that the smooth waters off Joy Sea Beach at Weifang Binhai have hosted the fastest kitefoil racers from all corners of the globe, and follows the success of the IKA Formula Kite World Championships that played there out exactly 12 months ago.

            But the mouth-watering prospect of the planet’s fastest kitefoilers doing battle over five days of competition in likely lighter airs that characterise Weifang Binhai is merely the opening act of the drama that will unfold in China.

            Just a few days after the winners trophies are awarded in Weifang, the athletes will have taken to the road and set up camp for the KiteFoil GoldCup’s third stop in the notoriously windy spot of Pingtan, where the wildly contrasting conditions could throw up more than a few surprises.

            The forthcoming contests—bolstering the 2017 KiteFoil GoldCup series’ opener in South Korea where Formula Kite World Champion Maxime Nocher (MON) and Anaïs Mai Desjardins (FRA) took top honours—will set the stage for the final thrilling showdown next month.

            Leading riders from the first three events will qualify directly for the KiteFoil GoldCup finale in Italy at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam at Poetto Beach, Cagliari. The winning man and woman will be crowned 2017 IKA KiteFoil World Champions, with the KiteFoil GoldCup trophy awarded to the best riders of the four-stop tour.

            Former world champions Germany’s Florian Gruber and Russia’s Elena Kalinina have shown their determination not to miss out on the opportunity, and showed up early at Weifang Binhai to give themselves the best chance of grabbing the coveted titles and a share of the total of €125,000 prize money on offer.

            With the open IKA KiteFoil GoldCup that allows competitors to use any equipment growing ever-more competitive, the closing weeks of the series’ season will inevitably be filled with high-octane action and unexpected outcomes that will keep fans gripped right to the death.

Racing commences from 09 September through to 13 September and results and race committee communication will be broadcasted LIVE at http://www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Saturday, 02 September 2017 20:32

The 2017 World Champions of the IKA KiteFoil Class will be crowned from 04 to 08 October 2017 at Poetto Beach, Cagliari, Sardinia.

The Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam marks the final of this years 4-stop KiteFoil GoldCup which has awarded a total of 125.000 EUR prize money.

Earlier plans to host the final in France or in the UAE unfortunately had to be postponed till the 2018 season due to reasons beyond our control. However, both of these events will make fantastic additions to the 2018 tour !

Starting with Korea back in May, the top 15 riders of each 2017 KiteFoil GoldCup (Korea, Weifang, Pingtan) qualify directly for the final event, with the remaining competitors being able to enter in the order of the world ranking up to a maximum of 60 entries. The winner of the Sardinia event will be crowned 2017 KiteFoil World Champion, while the KiteFoil GoldCup trophy will be awarded to the best rider of the tour.

Riders can register here: http://internationalkiteboarding.org/events/upcoming-events/formula/74-2017-kitefoil-goldcup-italy

The Notice of Race can be found here: http://kitefoilgoldcup.com/onb


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