The hotly-anticipated KiteFoil World Series’ second act is set to kick-off with four days of scorchingly-quick kiteboard racing action in back-to-back tour stops in China.
Hot of the heels of the season-opener of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil tour in Shandong province’s Weifang Binhai, the world’s fastest kitefoil athletes are to take to the East China Sea track off Fujian’s Pingtan Island.
Monaco’s Maxime Nocher, staked his claim to the scheduled four-stop series’ world title crown when he captured the victory in Weifang Binhai with increasingly-fast and confident performances that signalled his return to form.
The multiple world champion will look to build on his advantage in Pingtan, particularly with reigning IKA Formula Kite and “open” KiteFoil World Champion, Nico Parlier, missing. The Frenchman took the second podium spot in Weifang, but college commitments prevented him making the trip to Pingtan.
But despite Nocher’s steady and tactically astute racing in Weifang, he is unlikely to have it all his own way. He will be up against Britain’s Connor Bainbridge who proved almost unbeatable in the opening battles at the first tour stop.
A clutch of the fastest French racers are also among the 27 athletes from 16 nations who have made the journey to fight for a share of the $40,000 purse on offer at second stop that is the centre-piece of the 2018 Pingtan International Kitesurfing Festival.
The reigning IKA KiteFoil GoldCup title holder, Axel Mazella, Théo de Ramecourt, Theo Lhostis and Titouan Galea will undoubtedly give Nocher and Bainbridge a run for their money, each eager to claim a share of the glory and the prize money.
But with high winds and big seas already pummelling Pingtan’s beach-front, and more forecast throughout the week due to Cat. 4 typhoon "Mangkhut" approaching mainland China, the conditions could prove almost as challenging as the competition on the windward-leeward course.
A small group of women, led by former Formula Kite World Champion, Russia’s Elena Kalinina, will pit themselves against the men and the elements. They will race in the mixed fleet in Pingtan, a venue that has become a firm fixture on kiteboarding’s calendar because it always delivers stellar conditions that make for enthralling kite racing action.