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Sunday, 08 October 2017 20:36

France’s Nico Parlier put on an imperious display to seize the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil World Championship on the final day of racing on the Italian resort island of Sardinia.

Even before the last race of the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam, Parlier’s haul of bullets during the four days of competition meant he had the championship in the bag because of his vastly superior score.

But after adding two more bullets to his tally in the opening two races on the flat waters of the Gulf of Angels off Cagliari’s Poetto Beach, Parlier looked like he would make it a perfect hat-trick in the day’s final race after rounding the first top mark in the lead once again.

Uncharacteristically, he fell when he missed a gybe in the light, shifty breezes and had to watch much of the head of the fleet ride past as he tried to restart. Yet by the bottom mark Parlier was back up to sixth position and with his raw pace and finesse he managed to claw his way back to finish second, just behind countryman Axel Mazella.

“I could have stayed on the beach for that last race because I knew I had it won already,” said Parlier. “Still, I had to stay concentrated for the whole regatta. As I expected, the level of competition was very high. So I’m really delighted to  win.”

Mazella’s stellar performance earned him the second spot on the podium for the World title, but as the regatta doubled as the fourth stop of the 2017 IKA KiteFoil GoldCup series it was also enough to secure him the overall World Series title.

The 20-year-old Frenchman had been peerless at the GoldCup’s previous back-to-back stops at Weifang and Pingtan, China, last month, when he won race after race in light conditions that left rivals awed by his speed and precision.

“I’m really, really happy to win the tour title,” said a beaming Mazella. “But it’s slightly bitter-sweet. I’d loved to have taken the World Championship title too. We’ve had all the top guys here, so it was very tight and very interesting. I hope it will be the same at the Formula Kite Worlds in Oman next month.”

The intense competition at the top of the fleet left reigning IKA Formula Kite world champion and KiteFoil GoldCup title holder, Maxime Nocher (MON), in an unfamiliar third spot on the podium.

But after a four-month layoff and little training for the event, Nocher was pleased with his showing after a consistent series of top place finishes in the regatta’s 12 races that have left him hungry to get back on top in the increasingly competitive environment.

“It was very tight and I’m quite happy for my comeback,” said Nocher. “For sure I will go to Oman now. The level in foiling is really going up. Before, I was just leading. Now there’s very little between the top 10 guys. The technology is advancing like crazy and I’m working on my own foil. So let’s see.”

With virtually all the leading men among the 39-strong fleet from 14 nations at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam—sponsored by the City of Cagliari and Tourism Sardinia, supported by Yacht Club Cagliari—the five-day event produced some of the fastest, tightest racing of the year.

But straight out of the gate, Team Enata’s Mazella racked up two bullets on the first day of racing in light conditions that upset the form books that saw Parlier as the firm favourite after he had won nearly race this year.

True to form, though, the wheels of the Parlier machine began to grind on the second day when the gusty Mistral winds hit 40kts. On his Mike’s Lab foil and board, and Ozone R1V2 kites, he began racking up bullets and continued to do so right to close of racing, only faltering occasionally when he placed second, a record that made him untouchable.

For a time Britain’s Guy Bridge, 18, on his Levitaz Bionic foil and Flysurfer Sonic Race kites, looked as if he could challenge for a podium spot. But despite his searing pace, a chequered last two days left him in fourth spot overall.

His mother, multiple world champion, Steph Bridge, among the three women racing in the competitive mixed fleet, won the women’s title, but was nonetheless dismayed with her final day’s outing that took the gloss of things a little.

“I had a bit of a disaster,” said Bridge. “I don’t think I’ve ever in my life been out in such tricky, gusty conditions. But it’s the same for everyone. It’s just that it’s just not good to end a great event on sad note. I felt I should have done better.”

French 16-year-old Anaïs Mai Desjardins, undoubtedly a rising star, took the second podium spot behind Bridge. But her win at the KiteFoil GoldCup in Korea and a third in Weifang, China, were enough for her to take the overall tour crown.


IKA KiteFoil World Championship (Men)
1 Nico Parlier (FRA)                          
2 Axel Mazella (FRA)                        
3 Maxime Nocher (MON)

IKA KiteFoil World Championship (Women)
1 Steph Bridge (GBR)
2 Anaïs Mai Desjardins (FRA)
3 Sabrina Schlossnikel (GER)

IKA KiteFoil World Championship (U21)
1 Axel Mazella (FRA)
2 Guy Bridge (GBR)
3 Theo de Ramecourt (FRA)

IKA KiteFoil World Championship Masters
1 Ivan Doronin (RUS)
2 Benjamin Petit (FRA)
3 Pier Luigi Capozzi (ITA)
 
IKA KiteFoil GoldCup Men
1 Axel Mazella (FRA)
2 Theo de Ramecourt (FRA)
3 Theo Lhostis (FRA)

IKA KiteFoil GoldCup Women
1 Anaïs Mai Desjardins (FRA)
2 Alexia Fancelli (FRA)
3 Elena Kalinina (RUS)

IKA KiteFoil GoldCup Masters
1 Benjamin Petit (FRA)
2 Ivan Doronin (RUS)
3 Amil Kabil (USA)

IKA KiteFoil GoldCup (U18)
1 Martin Dolenc (CRO)
2 Anaïs Mai Desjardins (FRA)
3 Toni Vodisek (SLO)

Full results, LIVE video streaming and live results: www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Saturday, 07 October 2017 19:33

The battle at the head of the order intensified as the changeable breezes caused the otherwise flawless French kitefoil racer Nico Parlier to skip a beat even as he cemented his overall lead on the Italian island of Sardinia.

As the breeze dropped and shifted in the day’s final race at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam, Parlier’s countryman Axel Mazella finally turned the tables and took a precious bullet that left his rival trailing in second.

No matter, Parlier had already notched up two bullets in the stronger 11kts-to-15kts breezes of the opening two races that stretched his advantage on the leaderboard on the penultimate day  of competition on the sparkling waters of Sardinia’s Gulf of Angels.

The moderate north-easterly breezes that bathed the track off Cagliari’s Poetto Beach eventually dropped, preventing further racing in the afternoon, but were in stark contrast to the blustery offshore Mistral winds that hit 40kts the previous day.

With the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil World Championship to be awarded on the final fourth day of competition, the crown would appear to be Parlier’s to lose due to his healthy overall lead.

Similarly, as the regatta is also the final fourth stop of the globe-trotting IKA KiteFoil GoldCup, Mazella seems on course to take the trophy for the tour’s best overall rider after seamless victories at back-to-back stops last month in Weifang and Pingtan, China.

Even Maxime Nocher (MON), lying third overall, will be unable catch Mazella for the winners’ trophy despite winning the opening GoldCup stop in Korea in May. Nocher, the reigning GoldCup title holder and Formula Kite World Champion, missed the two China events and cannot make up the points difference in the standings.

But the coveted titles and €20,000 prize money up for grabs at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam—sponsored by the City of Cagliari and Tourism Sardinia, supported by Yacht Club Cagliari—have drawn virtually all the world’s fastest men competing in a 39-strong fleet from 14 countries.

France’s Anaïs Mai Desjardins, 16, is one of three women fighting for places racing among the mixed fleet. But she has been struggling in the conditions and failed to finish the day’s last two races, one after her 11m Enata kite unexpectedly collapsed in the gusty breezes.

Britain’s multiple world champion Steph Bridge suffered the misfortune of getting stuck in a wind hole after coming back to the beach to change up to a bigger kite between races and was several minutes late for the start of the final race. But she is still able to stay on terms with many of the men in the highly competitive fleet.

“I thought I was doing better, but I’m still finishing about 20th,” said Bridge. “I’m pretty close to the chasing pack and I’m fine with that. But I’m still making to many mistakes.”

Local favourite, Italy’s Mario Calbucci, is one who has been beating expectations after almost a year off the race circuit to help develop Moses’ Comet foil that he has been using to good effect. Currently sixth on the leaderboard, his goal at the outset was a top ten finish.

“I’m really pleased with my position, but I think I can still do better,” said Calbucci. “My feeling is that I’m fast, and this is great training to improve because we have all the top riders here in Sardinia to test yourself against. I’m learning all the time.”

Just ahead of Calbucci on the leaderboard is another Frenchman, Theo de Ramecourt, who is pleased with his overall position, but like all he feels there is room for improvement in his performance.

“I’m happy with my results, but oddly I’m way better on one tack than the other,” said de Ramecourt. “I’ll need to see my physiotherapist when I get home. I have good speed, and some good results, like a fourth in the last race. The wind was shifty, but then it’s more like sailing: more tactical, and more interesting.”
 

OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 9 RACES (1 DISCARDS)

1. Nico Parlier (FRA) - 11 pts
2. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 23 pts
3. Maxime Nocher (MON) -26 pts
4. Guy Bridge (GBR) - 31 pts
5 .Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) - 36 pts

TOP RANKED WOMEN AFTER 9 RACES (1 DISCARDS)
1. Steph Bridge (GBR) - 178 pts
2. Anais Desjardins (FRA) - 256 pts
3. Sabrina Schlossnikel (GER) - 311 pts

Full results, LIVE video streaming and live results: www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Saturday, 07 October 2017 19:33

The battle at the head of the order intensified as the changeable breezes caused the otherwise flawless French kitefoil racer Nico Parlier to skip a beat even as he cemented his overall lead on the Italian island of Sardinia.

As the breeze dropped and shifted in the day’s final race at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam, Parlier’s countryman Axel Mazella finally turned the tables and took a precious bullet that left his rival trailing in second.

No matter, Parlier had already notched up two bullets in the stronger 11kts-to-15kts breezes of the opening two races that stretched his advantage on the leaderboard on the penultimate day  of competition on the sparkling waters of Sardinia’s Gulf of Angels.

The moderate north-easterly breezes that bathed the track off Cagliari’s Poetto Beach eventually dropped, preventing further racing in the afternoon, but were in stark contrast to the blustery offshore Mistral winds that hit 40kts the previous day.

With the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil World Championship to be awarded on the final fourth day of competition, the crown would appear to be Parlier’s to lose due to his healthy overall lead.

Similarly, as the regatta is also the final fourth stop of the globe-trotting IKA KiteFoil GoldCup, Mazella seems on course to take the trophy for the tour’s best overall rider after seamless victories at back-to-back stops last month in Weifang and Pingtan, China.

Even Maxime Nocher (MON), lying third overall, will be unable catch Mazella for the winners’ trophy despite winning the opening GoldCup stop in Korea in May. Nocher, the reigning GoldCup title holder and Formula Kite World Champion, missed the two China events and cannot make up the points difference in the standings.

But the coveted titles and €20,000 prize money up for grabs at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam—sponsored by the City of Cagliari and Tourism Sardinia, supported by Yacht Club Cagliari—have drawn virtually all the world’s fastest men competing in a 39-strong fleet from 14 countries.

France’s Anaïs Mai Desjardins, 16, is one of three women fighting for places racing among the mixed fleet. But she has been struggling in the conditions and failed to finish the day’s last two races, one after her 11m Enata kite unexpectedly collapsed in the gusty breezes.

Britain’s multiple world champion Steph Bridge suffered the misfortune of getting stuck in a wind hole after coming back to the beach to change up to a bigger kite between races and was several minutes late for the start of the final race. But she is still able to stay on terms with many of the men in the highly competitive fleet.

“I thought I was doing better, but I’m still finishing about 20th,” said Bridge. “I’m pretty close to the chasing pack and I’m fine with that. But I’m still making to many mistakes.”

Local favourite, Italy’s Mario Calbucci, is one who has been beating expectations after almost a year off the race circuit to help develop Moses’ Comet foil that he has been using to good effect. Currently sixth on the leaderboard, his goal at the outset was a top ten finish.

“I’m really pleased with my position, but I think I can still do better,” said Calbucci. “My feeling is that I’m fast, and this is great training to improve because we have all the top riders here in Sardinia to test yourself against. I’m learning all the time.”

Just ahead of Calbucci on the leaderboard is another Frenchman, Theo de Ramecourt, who is pleased with his overall position, but like all he feels there is room for improvement in his performance.

“I’m happy with my results, but oddly I’m way better on one tack than the other,” said de Ramecourt. “I’ll need to see my physiotherapist when I get home. I have good speed, and some good results, like a fourth in the last race. The wind was shifty, but then it’s more like sailing: more tactical, and more interesting.”
 

OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 9 RACES (1 DISCARDS)

1. Nico Parlier (FRA) - 11 pts
2. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 23 pts
3. Maxime Nocher (MON) -26 pts
4. Guy Bridge (GBR) - 31 pts
5 .Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) - 36 pts

TOP RANKED WOMEN AFTER 9 RACES (1 DISCARDS)
1. Steph Bridge (GBR) - 178 pts
2. Anais Desjardins (FRA) - 256 pts
3. Sabrina Schlossnikel (GER) - 311 pts

Full results, LIVE video streaming and live results: www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Friday, 06 October 2017 18:53

Gusty Mistral winds played to the strengths of French kitefoil racer Nico Parlier when he seized pole position on the leaderboard with a perfect three bullets that left rivals struggling to match his pace in the punchy conditions.

Overnight leader Axel Mazella (FRA) had already reconciled himself to the fact that the second day of competition at the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam would be Parlier’s when he saw the forecast breezes.

Yet Mazella still gave Parlier a run for his money, harrying his countryman around the two-and-a-half laps of the windward-leeward course in offshore winds that quickly built to an average of 25kts, with gusts of more than 30kts under clear blue Mediterranean skies.

In the day’s third and final race, however, the wheels came off when he missed a gybe in the “survival” conditions on the second downwind leg, momentarily crashing his kite in the process, before recovering to finish sixth.

Britain’s Guy Bridge, 18, was just above Mazella at the time and had to carry on further to avoid the downed Frenchman and make his own gybe. It helped the Briton take fourth place, though in the end it was not enough for him to avoid slipping one place overall to fourth.

Monegasque Maxime Nocher, the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) Formula Kite World Champion and reigning KiteFoil GoldCup title holder, capitalised on the others’ slips to take a trio of solid third spots that left him just adrift of Mazella overall.

“I’m not training a lot in these conditions, but I’m quite happy about them,” said Nocher, making his comeback after a four month layoff used to launch his own business. “I managed to make some good races. The first two were OK, but the last one was was very windy and I crashed a couple of times.”

Indeed, the Mistral winds whipping the sand off Cagliari’s Poetto Beach mounted so quickly, gusting to 40kts on the course, they forced a suspension of racing over safety concerns. When it failed to moderate even in late afternoon, racing was called off for the day.

The five-day regatta on the historic Italian resort island will crown the IKA KiteFoil World Champion. But the competition is also the fourth and final stop of the “open” IKA KiteFoil GoldCup series, with Mazella in the box seat after victories at back-to-back regattas last month in Weifang and Pingtan, China.

In the women’s contest, French 16-year-old Anaïs Desjardins is looking to take the GoldCup title after winning at the first stop in Korea and taking a third podium place in Weifang. But she struggled in the tough conditions in Sardinia, failing to complete two races, leaving Britain’s Steph Bridge in control when she posted three mid-table finishes in the competitive mixed fleet.

Her middle son, Guy Bridge, on a Levitaz Bionic foil and 9m Flysurfer Sonic Race kite, was sanguine about dropping a place in the circumstances and believes the slightly lighter breezes expected for the closing days could work for him.

“It was a battle for survival out there,” he said, casting an eye over the blustery track. “I didn’t feel totally in control. The second race was really gusty and I crashed a bit. I felt better in the last race. I certainly dialled it back a bit and didn’t push too hard.”

Team-mate and former Formula Kite World Champion, Germany’s Florian Gruber, also riding Levitaz foil and 9m Flysurfer kite, felt comfortable in the conditions for the most part, though was slightly apprehensive about the potential for tangles at such high speeds on crowded startlines.

“The three races were fine,” said Gruber, lying ninth overall. “OK, on my 9m, the gusts were strong, but otherwise it was good out there. For the top riders these conditions are no problem. I was just a bit unlucky when my kite collapsed in a windshift in one race when I was running fifth, and it cost me quite a bit in the end. I just need a bit more luck.”
 

OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 6 RACES (1 DISCARDS)

1. Nico Parlier (FRA) - 7 pts
2. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 12 pts
3. Maxime Nocher (MON) -14 pts
4. Guy Bridge (GBR) - 19 pts
5 .Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) - 22 pts

TOP RANKED WOMEN AFTER 6 RACES (1 DISCARDS)
1. Steph Bridge (GBR) - 109 pts
2. Anais Desjardins (FRA) - 147 pts
3. Sabrina Schlossnikel (GER) - 191 pts

Full results, LIVE video streaming and live results: www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Thursday, 05 October 2017 23:27

None of the favourites to take the IKA KiteFoil World Championship title had it all their own in the opening exchanges on sparkling blue Mediterranean waters off the Italian island of Sardinia.

In a surprise upset to the form books, France’s Axel Mazella scored bullets in the first two races, holding countryman Nico Parlier at bay and pushing him into unfamiliar second spots on each occasion as the shifty breezes vexed the entire fleet.

Yet in the opening day’s third and final race both Frenchmen—arguably the fastest racers in the fleet—came unstuck. Each separately tangled with other riders and had to fight their back way into contention but finished slightly down the order.

That left the door open for reigning IKA KiteFoil GoldCup title holder and Formula Kite World Champion Maxime Nocher (MON) to take the win on his comeback at the Sardinia Kiteboarding Grand Slam after a four-month layoff.

Only Britain’s increasingly quick teenager, Guy Bridge, could split the order with three consistent finishes in the thermal breezes that built to around 12kts and left him third on the leaderboard.

His mother, multiple world champion Steph Bridge (GBR), had a slightly chequered outing missing one start by several minutes after suffering a tangle launching her foil kite on the beach. But racing in the mixed fleet, she managed to keep her nose in front of 16-year-old Anaïs Mai Desjardins (FRA) to give her the edge on the leaderboard.

Still, for all the drama of mixed fortunes on the water, the opening day of the IKA KiteFoil World Championship, which is also the concluding contest of the four-stop KiteFoil GoldCup series that began in May in Korea before proceeding to China for back-to-back events last month, lived up to the hype.

With virtually all the world’s top men on the startline for the first time this year on the first day of the four-day regatta, sponsored by Cagliari city and the Sardinia region, the showdown was bound to produce fireworks.

That Mazella opened his account taking two comfortable victories, leaving Parlier in his wake, was slightly unexpected. On the two laps of the windward-leeward track Mazella  took early leads from where he barley looked back using his favoured 15m Enata foil kite.

“I got good starts just in front of Nico Parlier,” said Mazella. “But I needed to control the races all the time. I was just in front of him, so when he took a slightly higher angle, I did the same. If he went deeper, I followed suit. I’m really confident on my 15m kite.”

Parlier had also started the day on a 15m Ozone R1V2 kite that had been big enough for the early winds. But for the racer who favours heavier conditions, the tricky breezes proved slightly troublesome.

“It was pretty light wind,” said Parlier. “But the biggest problem was that I had no idea which part of the course was favoured. In the last race I had a crash into another rider and that really didn’t help, though I managed to get back into it at the end.”

With the two Frenchmen fighting to get back on terms in the final race Nocher, who had switched to a second prototype foil, found another gear that gave him his first cherished victory, just ahead of Theo Lhostis (FRA), Italy’s Mario Calbucci and Guy Bridge, who were hot on his heels.

“After the first two races I changed the foil,” said Nocher. “It had been giving me a lot of trouble, and the third race was way better and I managed to win, so I’m happy. It’s my comeback after four months off, and I’ve only been training for two weeks, so it’s a good start.”

OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 3 RACES (0 DISCARDS)

1. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 9 pts
2. Nico Parlier (FRA) - 10 pts
3. Guy Bridge (GBR) - 10 pts
4. Maxime Nocher (MON) -12 pts
5 .Mario Calbucci (ITA) - 60 pts

TOP RANKED WOMEN AFTER 3 RACES (0 DISCARDS)
1. Steph Bridge (GBR) - 77 pts
2. Anais Desjardin (FRA) - 85 pts
3. Sabrina Schlossnikel (GER) - 111 pts

Full results, LIVE streaming and live scoring: www.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Up-to-date results and minute by minute updates will be available atwww.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Wednesday, 04 October 2017 23:08

The stage is set for a thrilling finale of the globe-trotting IKA KiteFoil GoldCup series with the world’s fastest riders lining up for a showdown on the leading Italian resort island of Sardinia.

The fourth stop of the KiteFoil GoldCup tour will be hosted off Cagliari’s Poetto Beach at the Sardinia Kiteboarding Grand Slam, with a trophy going to the best rider over the entire series which opened in Korea in May, followed by back-to-back regattas in China last month.

But the winner at the Sardinia Kiteboarding Grand Slam event will also claim the coveted world champion’s crown in the “open” IKA KiteFoil class, a prize that has drawn a fleet packed with the globe’s fastest kitefoil racers.

Sardinia is no stranger to top level kiteboarding events. Last year it played host to the kite freestylers battling for world titles in the IKA World Kite League at Porto Pollo, and in 2012 staged the Formula Kite World Championships off the sumptuous Poetto Beach.

With €20,000 in prize money up for grabs, Sardinia’s commitment to burnishing its reputation as a perfect kiting destination off fabled beaches on breezy blue Mediterranean waters is self-evident.  Cagliari city and the Sardinia region are key sponsors of the event through the island’s tourism department, with the support of the Yacht Club of Cagliari.

The spectacularly quick and still fast-evolving kitefoil racing discipline, with the athletes’ raw power fused with a balletic precision, is a more than fitting way to see the region’s ambitions realised.

With 39 riders from 14 nations, including nine racers from Italy, the competition will be fierce. Three women—including multiple world champion Steph Bridge (GBR) and France’s 16-year-old rising star, Anaïs Mai Desjardins—will race among the mixed fleet.

When the starting flag drops, Cagliari’s spectacular bay framed by hills will serve as the backdrop for one of the few events so far this year where virtually all the leading men will do battle, vying for the world title.

France’s Nico Parlier will undoubtedly be the one to beat, having barely lost a race all year. But his countryman Axel Mazella, so dominant in the Chinese GoldCup events where some of the top riders were missing, has shown he can give Parlier a run for his money.

Britain’s Guy Bridge will surely be pulling out all the stops to break the French stranglehold on the top of the podium. Bridge, 18, clearly demonstrated in China he has what it takes. Maxime Nocher (MON), the reigning KiteFoil GoldCup title holder and Formula Kite World Champion, is also a force to be reckoned with even though he has been out for much of the year.

But the depth of French talent runs deep. Théo Lhostis, also 18, and countryman Theo de Ramecourt, are each capable of mounting concerted challenges.

Nonetheless, Italy will be pinning it hopes on local favourites like the larger-than-life Rikki Leccese, with Mario Calbucci and Andrea Beverino equally capable of upsetting the order.

With winds forecast to be anywhere between light and stormy over the four upcoming days of competition, the conditions could well be one of the defining factors in the race for the title.

Up-to-date results and minute by minute updates will be available atwww.kitefoilgoldcup.com

Sunday, 24 September 2017 05:55

The only blemish on Axel Mazella’s astonishing scoresheet at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup in eastern China was an uncharacteristic second place that deprived him of a perfect tally.

Otherwise the Frenchman’s record shows a sea of “gold”, courtesy of 14 bullets from the 15 races, earning him an undisputed victory at the tour’s third and penultimate stop in Pingtan.

The win built on his equally emphatic—if not quite so dominant—performance a week earlier when he clinched victory at the second stop of the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup series in Weifang, China.

His stellar record must put him in the driving seat for the trophy of the IKA KiteFoil GoldCup’s best overall rider as the tour moves on to its finale in Italy next month at the Sardinia Kiteboarding Grand Slam, on Cagliari’s Poetto Beach.

Yet even the modest Mazella seemed slightly taken aback, though nonetheless delighted, by his incredible record. He was quick to acknowledge that some of the world’s best riders, like compatriot Nico Parlier and Britain’s Olly Bridge, were missing, an absence he hopes will be filled in Sardinia.

“I am surprised about the results, but really, really happy,” he said. “We always had light conditions. But I’ve become good in those conditions, with good starts and good angles. Of course, some riders had bad races, catching plastic bags on their foils. But I did too, it’s just I was far enough ahead that it didn’t cost me.”

The Pingtan stop of the tour, part of the China International Kiteboarding Festival that also hosted the IKA TT:R World Championships that were run in tandem, was marked by lighter airs than usual, the normal wind patterns disturbed by a typhoon nearby recently.

Yet the breezes proved sufficient to get foil races off every day in the bay off Pingtan’s beach on the flat waters of the East China Sea framed by islands and the city’s skyline.

If Mazella, invariably on his Team Enata 21m kite and foil, proved almost unbeatable, the honour of upsetting the established order went to Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) who managed to take a coveted race win.

De Ramecourt, riding his 21m Flysurfer Sonic Race kite and Mike’s Lab foil, several times on day two of the regatta thought he had Mazella well in his sights. De Ramecourt was leading or challenging at the first top mark, only to see his quest evaporate when he suffered one misfortune or another.

Ultimately, de Ramecourt took the third podium spot, just behind countryman Theo Lhostis, giving France a clean sweep of the top four when Julien Kerneur is added to the mix. Almost as remarkable is that aside from de Ramecourt, the others in the quartet were riding identical Team Enata kites and foils.

“I’m very happy with my second place,” said Lhostis. “Axel Mazella is just very, very fast. But Theo de Ramecourt and I are really close, and were together all the time, which was great.”

The women’s division, racing among the men, was won by Russia’s Elena Kalinina who bested her nearest rival Alexia Fancelli (FRA), another Team Enata rider. Kalinina revelled riding against the quicker men, all the while improving her pace.


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 15 RACES (3 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

The fleet is now heading to Italy for the KiteFoil World Series Final to crown the KiteFoil Class World Champion at Poetto Beach, Cagliari.

Friday, 22 September 2017 18:42

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 17:03

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 18:31

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.


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