Press Releases

Sunday, 20 November 2016 14:42

Reigning world champion Maxime Nocher put in a stellar shift on the closing day of of the International Kiteboarding Association KiteFoil GoldCup to bag another title in some of the fiercest and most competitive racing of the year.

The Monegasque rider began the day in second spot on the leaderboard just two points adrift of Britain’s Olly Bridge on the for fourth day of the finals of the “open” kitefoil world championship series.

But with two bullets, four seconds and a third spot in the day’s seven races, even as his training partner Axel Mazella (FRA) and Bridge pushed hard and match-raced him, Nocher kept clear and fast to do enough to grab the crown.

With three successive Formula Kite world titles, the latest secured in China in September, the addition of the second successive KiteFoil GoldCup crown now makes it an incredible ten kiteboarding world championships to his name.

Nocher’s jubilation was evident when he punched the air as he crossed the line second in the day’s penultimate race. Even before the last race he knew he had clinched the title as another discard available meant he could not lose whatever happened.

“When I crossed the line I knew I already had the win,” said a beaming Nocher. “The last race for me was free, and for me that’s when I race best. But overall I had a good competition. Perhaps I’m not the fastest, but I am the most consistent and that’s what helps me get there in the end. It was perfect really. I’m very happy.”

The closing day of four in the competition hosted by the Qatar Sailing & Marine Sports Federation off the The Pearl-Qatar island’s Qanat Quartier precinct finally provided unbeatable conditions for the 31 men and six women kitefoilers from 18 nations.

Doha’s characteristic breezes usual in the approach of the desert winter went largely missing for several days. Yet day two delivered sparkling racing when the full potential of hydrofoils teamed with ultra-efficient foil kites manifested itself with scorchingly-fast competition in breezes the rarely reached 7kts.

Slovenian teenager, Toni Vodisek, had his breakthrough moment when he clinched four bullets from the day’s six races, breathtakingly quick on his Levitaz Bionic foil and Ozone R1V2 kite.

Ultimately, his challenge faded as the slightly older and more tactically experienced riders regrouped, while he made a number of errors. But he still posted a bullet and third spot on the final day to give him fourth overall to mark him out as a rider with a bright future.

The 9kts to 13kts blowing over the mirror flat waters of the Arabian Gulf sparked the fastest and closest racing of the contest. The windward-leeward track, with 1.1 nautical miles between top and bottom marks, threw up a raft of photo-finishes even after more than one-and-a-half laps of the course with riders hitting more than 30kts on downwind legs.

As the breeze built, riders increasingly favoured the left track’s side to take the benefit of a lift towards the shoreline, choosing to tack several times to stay on the inside. One of the hydrofoil’s advantages, aside from sheer blistering pace, is that almost no time is lost in the tack.

The tactics of many of the top riders led to nail-bitingly tense duels with the top of the order rounding the windward mark at full speed within metres of one another. Yet there were few incidents despite the huge potential for tangles, testament to the riders’ skill.

Bridge, 18, on his Levitaz Bionic foil and 17m Ozone R1V2 was moderately pleased with his second podium placing, despite starting the day in poll. But he felt the stronger breeze would have played more to his strengths than was ultimately the case.

“I’m quite happy,” he said. “I thought I might have been more in control [of the races] because of the slightly stronger wind. But Nocher and Mazella just seem to a bit faster on their foils with the new wings.”

Similarly, Mazella, also 18, who notched up two bullets and three seconds, was pleased with his day’s performance. On his Banga foil and F-One Diablo2 kite, gear identical to Nocher’s, he was able to leapfrog Vodisek to third in the standings.

“For me it was a good day,” he said. “I like these conditions, gusty and very shifty. But the problem for me was the second day of racing. I’m not so happy about that. I made many mistakes, had many crashes, and chose the wrong options. But in the end that’s all part of the game.”

Russia’s Elena Kalinina, yet another 18-year-old, was the worthy winner of the women’s title, showing her pace, class and experience even when competing among the strong men’s fleet.      “I’m a bit tired, but happy,” she said. “I’ve never done seven races in a day. Overall I enjoyed racing among the men. Sometimes I can catch them. But their level is so high.”

Overall standings after 15 races (three discards):


1 Maxime Nocher (MON, F-One/Banga)        21pts
2 Olly Bridge (GBR, Ozone/Levitaz)               28pts
3 Axel Mazella (FRA, F-One/Banga)              33pts
4 Toni Vodisek (SLO, Ozone/Levitaz)             40pts
5 Florian Trittel (ESP, Ozone/KFA)                 65pts


1 Elena Kalinina (RUS, Elf/Banga)                193pts
2 Gina Hewson (AUS, Ozone/Levitaz)          270pts
3 Jade O’Connor (IRL, Elf/Banga)                 279pts
4 Ariane Imbert (FRA, Ozone/Banga)            311pts

Full results:

Saturday, 19 November 2016 12:24

The wind played cat and mouse, but in the end there was just enough breeze and daylight to squeeze in one race on the penultimate day of competition at the finals of the “open” kitefoil world championship series.

But in the hard-fought race with the desert sun sinking fast, the fickle, shifty airs were ideal for Monaco’s Maxime Nocher to eke out another bullet that puts him one step closer to retaining his International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup title.

His win over training partner Axel Mazella (FRA) by just one second at the line pushed him up to second place in the standings after a forgettable day two of the competition marked by misfortunes and mistakes that cast him down the order.

Yet courtesy of a third place finish Britain’s Olly Bridge holds his spot as overall leader going into the final day’s racing. With good wind finally forecast and just four points separating the top three riders, the high-octane action will undoubtedly furnish a fitting climax to the four-day championship played out on flat waters off The Pearl-Qatar island’s Qanat Quartier precinct.

Slovenia’s Toni Vodisek, just 16, is still very much in the hunt after blazing a trail with four bullets from day two’s six races, but his fifth place in the day’s only race caused him to slip to third overall.

Even Mazella, current KiteFoil GoldCup series’ leader after his victory in the opening round in Gizzeria, Italy, in July, is just a few points adrift in the competition hosted by the Qatar Sailing & Marine-Sports Federation.

The 31 men and six women, from 18 countries, have been racing as one fleet in an attempt to run as many races as possible in the short days and the light breezes that have only permitted eight races.

Day three came perilously close to proving a complete bust. An adequate 6kts to 7kts finally emerged in mid-afternoon. But while many of the lighter riders easily made it to the track from the beach and were comfortably riding in the 5kts to 7kts breezes, others were stuck in the wind shadow on the beach.

For more than an hour race organisers waited and helped riders to get on to the course. But with the starting sequence eventually underway, the wind dropped to less than 6kts and the race had to be postponed just 10 seconds before the off.      

When the yellow class flag finally dropped to signal the start Nocher, on his Banga foil and F-One Diablo2 kite, rarely looked back and led all the way. But he was aware that Bridge, on his Levitaz Bionic foil and Ozone R1V2 kite customised with a Union Jack flag, was hard on his heels.

As the pair match raced, covering one another’s tacks and gybes, they took the left side of the track on the second upwind leg of the two-lap race that unfolded in barely 13 nail-biting minutes.

Their duel left the door open for Mazella, who opted for the right side of the course where the wind was marginally stronger and steadier. It was a move that cost Bridge a place and almost allowed Mazella to overhaul Nocher.

“I’m so happy,” said a clearly relieved Nocher. “It’s a big fight with Olly Bridge and Axel Mazella for the world title, so every race you push hard and try to win. Every race is so important, partly because we will have only two discards. Yesterday, I made so many mistakes and broke my foil. But today I was clear and fast, and I’m pleased.”

For Russia’s Elena Kalinina, the path to the women’s crown seems assured. The 18-year-old has been racing fast and cleanly, putting her on a par with many of the men.

Overall standings after 8 races (1 discard).


1 Olly Bridge (GBR, Ozone/Levitaz)             17pts
2 Maxime Nocher (MON, F-One/Banga)      19pts
3 Toni Vodisek (SLO, Ozone/Levitaz)            21pts
4 Axel Mazella (FRA, F-One/Banga)             24pts
5 Florian Trittel (ESP, Ozone/KFA)                31pts


1 Elena Kalinina (RUS, Elf/Banga)                103pts
2 Gina Hewson (AUS, Ozone/Levitaz)          159pts
3 Jade O’Connor (IRL, Elf/Banga)                 160pts
4 Ariane Imbert (FRA, Ozone/Banga)            192pts

Full results:

Low resolution pictures can be downloaded from: 

For daily highlight videos, please see

Friday, 18 November 2016 12:25

One of the youngest riders at the KiteFoil GoldCup, Toni Vodisek, stamped his authority on proceedings with four bullets from six in a remarkable performance that marked his best day on the water and left competitors in awe of his sheer pace.

The 16-year-old Slovenian who has been threatening a breakthrough led every race he won almost from start to finish in a stellar outing on smooth waters in gentle breezes that spawned scintillating racing at the “open” kitefoil world championship finals.

Nonetheless, Britain’s Olly Bridge leads the standings after he scored a bullet, three seconds and a raft of consistent other placings on the second day of four at the competition being staged in the Arabian Gulf off The Pearl-Qatar island’s Qanat Quartier precinct.

 Reigning International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup champion, Maxime Nocher (MON), slipped to third on the leaderboard from his overnight lead, despite a bullet, two seconds and third placing.

Nocher suffered the misfortune of tangling briefly with Poland’s Maks Zakowski who had crashed just metres from the finish line as he pressed hard to clinch a third spot on a blistering final reach. Nocher freed his kite and dragged both himself and board over the line.

The intensely-competitive racing belied the benign conditions. In breezes rarely topped 7kts  under cloudless skies, the kitefoils again showed their versatility and mind-boggling speed as racers blazed around two laps of the flat windward-leeward track hitting more than 25kts.

From 22 nations, the 37 riders — including four women — have been racing as one fleet, with Doha’s dramatic skyline serving as a fitting backcloth for the action in the on-set of desert state’s winter.

The tour leader Axel Mazella (FRA) — who took the overall win at the first stop in Gizzeria, Italy, in July — sits in fourth spot. He again scored consistently, but on his Banga foil and F-One Diablo2 18m seemed a little off his usual pace.

Race organisers were able to get two sets of three back-to-back races away after the breeze, largely AWOL in recent days, kicked in on cue before lunch and held steady until just before the early sunset.

That was a perfect opportunity for Vodisek to put the hammer down on his Levitaz Bionic foil and Ozone R1V2. The settled conditions at the contest hosted by the Qatar Sailing & Marine-Sports Federation almost precisely mirror those of his home training waters.

Yet while he was happy with his incredible four wins, in the way of most athletes striving for perfection, the teenager could only see the flaws in his races that he hopes to eliminate in the final two days of competition.

“Sure, it’s the best day ever,” he said. “I’m not really sure what I’m doing right. Probably it’s down to having good speed and good angles. But I’m still making mistakes. And with no-one in front of me, now I have to figure it all out for myself. I’m thinking: don’t mess up, don’t mess up.”

His key rival, Bridge, himself just 18 and riding identical equipment to Vodisek, was equally quick to spot the problems in his racing, but took solace from the fact it had been enough to send him top overall.

“We have the same gear and we’re just as fast as each other,” he said. “But I had one crash in one race. The morning races were good, but not so great towards the end of the day. Overall, though, I pretty happy with things.”

Among the women, Russia’s Elena Kalinina was as fast as ever in the light breeze, ending the day 17th overall after some quick races that left many of the men trailing in her wake.

Overall standings after 7 races (1 discard).


1 Olly Bridge (GBR, Ozone/Levitaz)              14pts
2 Toni Vodisek (SLO, Ozone/Levitaz)            16pts
3 Maxime Nocher (MON, F-One/Banga)       18pts
4 Axel Mazella (FRA, F-One/Banga)             22pts
5 Florian Trittel (ESP, Ozone/KFA)                28pts


1 Elena Kalinina (RUS, Elf/Banga)                83pts
2 Gina Hewson (AUS, Ozone/Levitaz)          134pts
3 Jade O’Connor (IRL, Elf/Banga)                 137pts
4 Ariane Imbert (FRA, Ozone/Banga)           168pts

Full results:

Thursday, 17 November 2016 12:27

Reigning world champion Maxime Nocher opened his account with a bullet after a tricky day of light, shifty breezes at the KiteFoil GoldCup that tested riders’ skill and patience.

But the Monegasque Formula Kite title holder was pushed all the way in the day’s only race by his biggest rival, France’s Axel Mazella, and snatched the win by barely 20m after two laps of the track’s near glassy waters.

Race organisers were able to squeeze in just one race ahead of the early sunset in the Arabian Gulf after the light airs of recent days prevailed on day one of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) GoldCup final in Qatar.

The first effort to get the closing round of the “open” kitefoil world championship underway in breezes of 6kts faltered as many riders struggled to clear a wind shadow off The Pearl-Qatar island’s Qanat Quartier precinct beach.

For those who made it to the windward-leeward course the 6kts to 7kts breeze, flat waters and 18m and 19m foil kites were more than sufficient to achieve scorching speeds heralded by wind screaming in riders’ lines as they hit more than 25kts.

A second attempt towards the end of the afternoon proved more successful as what little breeze there was swung off-shore, the smooth waters ensuring the margins between competitors remained extremely tight on the two laps of the track.

The 37 riders — including six women — will race in one fleet over the forthcoming three days as the race committee decided it would afford the greatest opportunity to run the most races, faced with short days and forecast settled conditions.

Yet for Slovenia’s Toni Vodisek, at 16 one of the fleet’s youngest riders, the light airs were right in his wheel-house and he picked up a strong fifth place, an ideal start as he bested many older and more experienced racers.

Despite his youth, Vodisek knows the waters and is returning two years after competing in the course-board Asian Continental Championships, which were also hosted by the Qatar Sailing & Marine-Sports Federation.

“This place is like my home spot, so it suits me,” he said. “I like it a lot. I was here a couple of years ago. I’m one of the youngest, but it’s always been like that. At first it was a bit strange, but it doesn’t bother me now.”

Another veteran of the Doha track who put in a blistering opening performance was Russia’s Elena Kalinina, 18. The KiteFoil GoldCup women’s tour leader, who romped home in twelfth spot, leaving many ordinarily faster men in her wake.

Even after the first attempt aborted because of the fickle breeze, the light-wind diva was chomping at the bit and eager to race as she had been in her element blasting around the track framed by the Doha’s burgeoning skyscrapers and cranes.

“It was good,” she said. “The wind was good for racing. I want to go. These are exactly the kind of conditions I like.”

She found no arguments from Nocher who revels in flat waters and lighter airs that have invariably carried him to three successive Formula Kite world titles and earned him the 2015 IKA KiteFoil GoldCup crown.

“It was perfect,” he said, winding his lines as he came ashore. “It was a little bit light, but OK. I was just ahead of Axel [Mazella] at the start line and I maintained the lead all the way round the course. I’m in poll position, so it’s a great start.”

But Mazella, 18, knows there is a long way to go, especially if the breeze picks up in the coming days. The GoldCup series’ leader, courtesy of his overall first round victory in Italy, realises  that on his Banga foil and F-one Diablo2 kites that are identical to Nocher’s, he has to pace to win.

“I started just behind Maxime Nocher, and he was just ahead of me on the upwind and downwind legs,” said Mazella. “At the finish he was only 20m ahead of me. I’ve got the speed. I just need to make a slightly better start.

Overall standings after one race.


1 Maxime Nocher (MON, Banga/F-one) 1pt
2 Axel Mazella (FRA, Banga/F-one)       2pts
3 Maks Zakowski (POL, Moses/Ozone)  3pts          
4 Blazej Ozog (POL, Moses/Flysurfer)    4pts
5 Toni Vodisek (SLO, Levitaz/Ozone)      5pts


1 Elena Kalinina (RUS, Banga/Elf)          12pts
2 Gina Hewson (AUS, Levitaz/Ozone)     38pts
2 Ariane Imbert (FRA)                              38pts
2 Jade O’Connor (IRL, Banga/Elf)           38pts

Full results:

Tuesday, 15 November 2016 12:29

The stage is set for the final act of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup in what will surely be a thrilling showdown on the Arabian Gulf’s flawless flat waters.

Leading contenders for the world championship crown in the “open” kitefoil class have been limbering up off The Pearl island’s Qanat Quartier, clocking blistering speeds in breezes of barely 5kts under cloudless skies.

The high-octane competition will feature 37 riders from 18 nations locked four days of tight, breathtakingly-quick action that kicks off tomorrow (Wed,16 Nov), framed by Doha’s towering and fast-evolving skyline.

France’s Axel Mazella has put himself in poll position for the title with a victory in the GoldCup’s opening round in Gizzeria, Italy, in July. That win established the 18-year-old as series’ leader after he stamped his authority in a range of testing conditions — from the lightest breezes to punchy winds accompanied by big swells.

But Mazella’s clear path to the crown is far from assured. The French teenager clinched victory in Italy by just one point, ahead of training parter, Monaco’s Maxime Nocher, who had reeled in Mazella, remorselessly chipping away at a commanding early lead.

Since that tense duel, Nocher turned the tables on his rival with a win at the IKA Formula Kite (foil) World Championships in China, his third successive title and the first of the foiling era. He is also reigning KiteFoil GoldCup champion.

Yet if there is one rider determined to upset any victory lap, it will be Olly Bridge. Also just 18, the rangy Briton has a devastating turn of speed and displays growing tactical awareness that secured the second podium spot in China, splitting his Gallic rivals.

All three contenders are strongest in light breezes, which could be important in the coming days as the promised uncharacteristically settled conditions mirror the zephyrs that have graced the track in the run-up to the GoldCup finale hosted by the Qatar Sailing & Marine Sports Federation.

Whoever takes the title, they will have the honour of receiving it from Khalifa al-Suwaidi, president of the federation, which hosted the course-board Asian Continental Championships in 2014. Two years on, four Qatari riders will be competing on the international foiling stage for the first time.

But aside from the top three ranked riders, they will find themselves up against a formidable array talent, including Spain’s Florian Trittel, former world champion Florian Gruber (GER), Bulgaria’s Alexander Bachev, and Theo Lhostis (FRA).

Among the women, former world champion Elena Kalinina (RUS), leading the KiteFoil GoldCup rankings, must be hot favourite to take the crown. She too has been out on her Banga foil and Elf Joker 18m kite scything effortlessly through the flat waters, a dramatic precursor of what is to come.

Monday, 05 September 2016 12:50

2016 has proven to be a difficult year for all kinds of competitions. Political instability and now the postponement of the Korea event for May 3-7, 2017 means that the next major event on the KiteFoil GoldCup Tour will be the Final in Qatar.

Qatar has played host already for the 2014 Formula Kite Asian Championships and is now hosting the final of the KiteFoil GoldCup, where the World Champions of the IKA KiteFoil class will be crowned.

20000 EUR prizemoney are up for grabs for the worlds fastest kiteracers, together with a more than attractive package for all competitors. Accomodation in the 5 star event hotel, the Grand Hyatt, is strongly subsidized by the event organizer and includes breakfast as well as dinner. Visa will be arranged by the organizer as well. Please check the event registration page for more details.

Registration is open now at

The Notice of Race can be found here:

Monday, 18 July 2016 12:51

French teenager Axel Mazella snatched victory at the KiteFoil GoldCup by the finest of margins after a series misfortunes and mistakes on the contest’s final day that saw his overnight lead evaporate in the tightest races of the world championships’ opening tour stop in Italy.

But the 18-year-old’s performances in the “gold” fleet’s six races were just enough to pip his great rival and training partner, reigning Formula kite world champion Maxime Nocher, by a single point.
Mazella’s victory was assured only at the death. A tangle with Olly Bridge (GBR) in the “gold” fleet’s penultimate race cost both riders dearly. Bridge’s kite inverted as he pushed hard on an upwind leg and Mazella was unable to avoid it, forcing Bridge to retire while Mazella finished last after disentangling himself.

Both were able to dispense with the poor result when discards kicked-in after five races. But for 18-year-old Bridge — who scored four bullets and a second on the day with sizzling pace on his Levitaz foil and Elf Joker kites — the slip may have cost him at least one podium spot, though ultimately he was content with his third overall.

The Italian-Colombian rider Riccardo Leccese, who sat in second spot overnight, was also in with a shout of a podium finish at the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) GoldCup in Italy. But he mistakenly believed the day’s final race had been reduced to two laps and put himself out of contention, slipping to fourth overall.

If anything, the drama and mounting tension of the four-day contest’s finale off Gizzeria’s Hang Loose Beach appeared initially to leave Mazella more relieved than pleased by his triumph. “I’m delighted to win,” he said, slightly unconvincingly. “I train together with Maxime Nocher, so I know him well and he goes very, very fast. I try to be more consistent, like him. But I made so many mistakes. In the day’s first race I had many crashes, then I tangled with Olly Bridge and had lots of poor starts.”

Uncertainty over the final outcome until the very last moment merely added to the spectacle for a crowded weekend beach. Perfect conditions, with the onshore breeze varying from 8kts to around 16kts, saw the 62 riders for 26 nationalities deploy their 15m and 18m kites.

On the three laps of the windward-leeward course, with a blasting reach to the finish just off the beach, spectators were treated to the world’s fastest foilers pushing to the limit and beyond, with sometimes spectacular wipeouts.

The conditions and the desire to win pushed the riders on, with the leaders continually trading places on the course and the leaderboard. But Mazella’s ability to post solid results under intense pressure was enough to clinch the title for him.

Even Olly Bridge was wistful about his slice of ill-luck on an otherwise stellar day. “In the end it was all right,” he said. “I’m pretty pleased. I broke a bridle [yesterday] and my kite inverted. That was my two discards. I’d have been pretty close to top with a bit more luck.”

Germany’s Florian Gruber, who placed fifth, was also able view the positives of his improving performances on his Flysurfer Sonic2 kite and Levitaz hydrofoil.

“Realistically my goal was to get in the top five, so I’m pleased with the result,” said Gruber. “I’m getting closer to the top guys. I made some little mistakes for sure, but so did everyone else. Without those we’d be machines, and that’s not possible.”

For the women competing with the men in the “silver” fleet, Formula Kitefoil European Champion Elena Kalinina showed she is a force to be reckoned with, seeing off challenges from Alexia Fancelli (FRA) and Jade O’Connor (IRL), who was thrilled with her podium finish.

Overall standings after ten “gold” fleet series races (two discards) and eight “silver” races (one discard).

1 Axel Mazella (FRA, F-one/Taaroa) — 22pts
2 Maxime Nocher (MON, F-One/Taaroa) — 23pts
3 Oliver Bridge (GBR, Elf/Levitaz) — 26pts
4 Riccardo Leccese (ITA, Ozone/MikesLab) — 36pts
5 Florian Gruber (GER, Flysurfer/Levitaz) — 44pts

1 Elena Kalinina (RUS, Elf/Moses) — 103pts
2 Alexia Fancelli (FRA, Airush/Flysurfer/Taaroa) — 125pts
3 Jade O'Connor (IRL, Elf/Banga) — 141pts

Full results:

Low resolution pictures can be downloaded from

Daily highlight videos are available from our Youtube channel:

Sunday, 17 July 2016 12:53

The young French rider Axel Mazella showed his class and growing pace at the KiteFoil GoldCup with a string of bullets on a day when all the top racers found themselves competing in the same fleet for the first time.

Mazella used his Taaroa Sword2 foil and F-one Diablo2 kite to clinical effect taking three wins from the “gold” fleet’s four races, with even a misstep in the day’s final race when he posted fifth, failing to prevent him topping the leaderboard.

For the most part in the difficult gusty and shifty conditions with large waves on the track off Hang Loose Beach, Gizzeria, in southern Italy, he seemed to have the measure of his old foe Maxime Nocher (MON), the reigning International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup champion.

The Italian-Colombian kite racing veteran Riccardo Leccese also seemed to have few answers to the French teenager’s scorching pace, though the four third places he snatched from four races earned him a solid second place in the standings just ahead of Nocher.

Racers, who were divided into three fleets for the medals series on day three of the IKA kitefoil world championships’ opening leg, were forced to wait until mid-afternoon for their first “go” signal because of a vicious shore-break organisers deemed posed a safety risk.

But when the wind steadied to around 14kts to 16kts and racing commenced the quality of the talent on display asserted itself with a clutch of stellar performances on the three lapse of the windward-leeward track completed in about 15 minutes.

It was not without incident. Briton’s Olly Bridge dropped his Elf Joker foil kite in the unpredictable winds ahead of the “gold” fleet’s second race of the day, could not relaunch and was brought ashore.
Luckily his mother, multiple world champion Steph Bridge was waiting with a kite in the air that she handed off to him. He made the start in time, but promptly crashed just afterwards and could not recover sufficiently and posted a disappointing 15th place, in stark contrast to the bullet he scored in the day’s final race.

But with the prospect of discards kicking after five races on the competition’s final day on Sunday, Bridge could yet climb the standings from his current fifth place on the leaderboard provided he suffers no further misfortunes.

Not that he was alone in suffering ill-luck. Germany’s Florian Gruber posted a series of solid results culminating in a second place finish in the day’s final race that carried him to fourth on the leaderboard. But like others his Levitaz foil caught plastic bags washed on to the track by the stormy conditions, which he had to clear.

Mazella suffered the same fate but was philosophical about it. “In one race when I caught a plastic bag Maxime Nocher was just behind me,” he said. “I jumped to try to get it from my wing. But I had to stop to clear it. Then Maxime caught one on another lap, and Florian on another.”

The lighter conditions than riders had faced on the regatta’s opening two days also suited Adrian Geislinger (AUT) who moved up the standings to 13th spot with several good performances at the start of of the day.

“My performances improved because in the lighter winds I was able to use my 15m and 13m kites,” said Geislinger. “I really like the new Flysurfer Sonic2 kites, but we had only tuned the bigger sizes last week in expectation of the lighter winds we normally get in Gizzeria.”

Among the women, racing with the men in the “silver” fleet, the old order was partially re-established. Reigning Formula kite world champion Elena Kalinina got her nose just in front of Alexia Fancelli (FRA) on the leaderboard, with Jade O’Connor just a few points adrift of them.

Overall standings after four “gold” fleet series races (no discards), two “silver” and two “bronze”.

1 Axel Mazella (FRA, F-one/Taaroa) — 10pts
2 Riccardo Leccese (ITA, Ozone/MikesLab) — 14pts
3 Maxime Nocher (MON, F-One/Taaroa) — 18pts
4 Florian Gruber (GER, Flysurfer/Levitaz) — 31pts
5 Oliver Bridge (GBR, Elf/Levitaz) — 35pts

1 Elena Kalinina (RUS, Elf/Moses) — 65pts
2 Alexia Fancelli (FRA, Airush/Flysurfer/Taaroa) — 65pts
3 Jade O'Connor (IRL, Elf/Banga) — 69pts

Full results:

Low resolution pictures can be downloaded from

Daily highlight videos are available from our Youtube channel:

Saturday, 16 July 2016 12:54

Germany’s Florian Gruber shrugged off the mixed bag of weather that played havoc with the racing schedule at the KiteFoil GoldCup in Italy to snatch a flawless two victories from two races.

In a break-neck dash for the line in his day’s final race the former Formula kite world champion crashed spectacularly just as he crossed to see off rival, reigning International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup title holder, Maxime Nocher (MON).

It was the second time of the day the invariably imperious Nocher had just lost out to Gruber, who feels he is finding his a winning grove on his prototype Flysurfer Sonic foil kites and Levitaz Aspect Bionic hydrofoil in the shifty and gusty conditions that mirror his home training spot.

Day two of the four-day competition, the first of a four-stop world tour, began with light on-shore breezes that built quickly to allow the three fleets out on the track off Gizzeria’s Hang Loose Beach on their biggest 15m and 18m kites.

But after three races, one for each fleet, racing was suspended with the approach of squalls that swirled around the Calabrian hills overlooking the venue. Racing recommenced when the showers cleared, with the on-off wind steading to between 20kts and 25kts.

It was not to last and the flukey winds forced organisers to call a halt to racing after just another three races. With a total of seven races for each fleet, the riders will now be seeded into “gold”, “silver” and “bronze” flights for the medals races of the concluding two days.

Stellar performances again were put in by Riccardo Leccese (ITA) and Axel Mazella (FRA). Each scored bullets in two races in their respective fleets, adding to their perfect tally from day one and leaving them joint top in the standings.

Despite Nocher coming of second best to Gruber, the Monegasque rider lies in third place overall and is well positioned to find a new gear on his clearly fast F-One Diablo foil kites and Taaroa Sword2 hydrofoil.

Gruber’s sheer pace and tactical nous around the two laps of the windward-leeward, in winds that varied during the day from 8kts to 25kts, propelled him up the leaderboard to sixth spot.
“Up until the end of last year I was still on both the course board and the foil,” said Gruber. “Now it’s just foil and I really love it. The equipment is really important. I’m lucky that both Flysurfer and Levitaz are just a couple of hours’ drive from home, so I can easily discuss technical changes with them.”

Gruber’s strong showing left him just adrift of Mario Calbucci (ITA) and Olly Bridge (GBR) who again both had good days in their fleets, leaving them fourth and fifth respectively overall. Like all riders they will start the medals races with a points deficit of two times their position from the qualifying series.

Poland’s Balzej Ozog also put in a good shift on his Moses Vorace foil and Flysurfer Sonic kites after a shaky start to the day, eventually taking a second in his day’s final race that pushed him up the standings to tenth spot.

“In the first race I made a mistake at the downwind gate,” he said. “I was trying to catch to many guys and crashed. My fault. But I like these difficult conditions. The harder it gets with wind shifts and big waves, the better I get. Then it’s more about the rider than the equipment.”

Among the women, who are racing among the men, one of the surprises in that multiple world champion Steph Bridge (GBR) failed to make it to the “silver” fleet, where Jade O’Connor (IRL), Alexia Fancelli (FRA) and reigning Formula kite world champion Elena Kalinina (RUS) will occupy slots as they sit neck-and-neck in the standings.

Overall standings after seven qualifying series races (one discard).

1 Riccardo Leccese (ITA, Ozone/MikesLab) - 6 pts
1 Axel Mazella (ESP, Elf/KFA) - 6 pts
3 Maxime Nocher (MON, F-One/Taaroa) - 8 pts
4 Mario Calbucci (ITA, Elf/Banga) - 13 pts
5 Oliver Bridge (GBR, Elf/Levitaz) - 13 pts

1 Jade O'Connor (IRL, Elf/Banga) - 76 pts
2 Alexia Fancelli (FRA, Airush/Taaroa) - 76 pts
3 Elena Kalinina (RUS, Elf/Moses) - 78 pts
4 Steph Bridge (GBR, North/Levitaz/Volvo) 83pts

Full results: 

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Friday, 15 July 2016 12:55

Margins separating the world’s leading kitefoilers are extremely fine. Reigning European and KiteFoil GoldCup champion, Monegasque rider Maxime Nocher, almost had a perfect day but was literally pipped at the post.

Florian Trittel (ESP) just overhauled Nocher on a searing reach to the finish on their last race of the day, but in doing so the Spaniard caught a mark line with his foil and was catapulted off his board. Still, it was enough to secure a win and deprive Nocher of five bullets from five races.

French rider Axel Mazella and Italian Riccardo Leccese, competing in the other two of three race fleets on day one of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil GoldCup at Gizzeria, southern Italy, suffered no similar misfortunes. Each racked up five wins in their respective fleets to leave them equal top in the standings.

By dint of Nocher's second place finish, which was dispensed with when discards kicked-in after five races, he found himself in third position but remained equal in the day’s overall points’ standings. On the track off Hang Loose Beach, in the shadow of dramatic Calabrian hills, races were similarly tight with leaders invariably finishing within seconds of one-another.

The 63 racers from 26 countries were divided into three fleets for the first of the two-day qualifying series, with eight women competing with the men. On completion of the qualifiers, the riders will be seeded in three fleets for the final two days in the medals series.

The Italy stop of the KiteFoil GoldCup world championship is the first of four planned legs.
Events are set for Turkey, followed by South Korea, with the overall winner crowned in Qatar towards year’s end.

But first will come tougher and tougher racing as both riders and equipment in the “open” kitefoil class continue their headlong development, improving speeds and angles on the race track at frantic pace.

There are few better illustrations of the speed of change than the dramatically improving performances of Italian Mario Calbucci, 19. On his handmade Italian Banga hydrofoil, a new-comer to the kitefoil scene, he scored four second places from five in his fleet.

In the testing conditions, with the shifty winds averaging 14kts but gusting to an uncharacteristic 20kts, Calbucci deployed a 9m Elf Joker6 foil kite to good effect on the two laps of the windward-leeward track that the leaders completed in around 11 blistering minutes despite the one-metre swells.

“My Banga foil is working really well,” said a clearly delighted Calbucci. “We tested it out just before competition started. The carbon’s strong and stiff, so it’s ideal for the strong winds we’re getting.”
Calbucci was only bested slightly in the standings by the young Briton Olly Bridge, competing in an alternate fleet where he notched up five second places from five. On his Levitaz Aspect Bionic hydrofoil and Elf Joker foil kites he again showed great consistency and devastating speed.
But perhaps one of the day’s biggest surprises was the emergence of a new face, a French rider from New Caledonia, Titouan Galea, 19. He burst onto the scene with four seconds and a third to end in seventh place overall, putting down his marker for the coming days.

“I’ve been training in France with the French team for the past three months,” he said by way of explanation for his stellar performance. “But it’s the kind of conditions I’m used to in New Caledonia. I think I’m better in the strong winds with my 9m kite, than in lighter winds.”

Another unexpected result was Irish rider Jade O’Connor topping the women’s standings, ahead of Alexia Fancelli (FRA) and European champion, Russia’s Elena Kalinina. But with even tougher conditions and higher winds forecast for day two, the likelihood of the whole pack being reshuffled seems strong.

Overall standings after five qualifying series races (one discard).

1 Riccardo Leccese (ITA, Ozone/MikesLab) - 4 pts
1 Axel Mazella (FRA, F-One/F-One) - 4 pts
3 Maxime Nocher (MON, F-One/Taaroa) - 4 pts
4 Oliver Bridge (GBR, Elf/Levitaz) - 8 pts
5. Mario Calbucci (ITA, Elf/Banga) - 8 pts

1 Jade O'Connor (IRL, Elf/Banga) - 9 pts
2 Alexia Fancelli (FRA, Airush/Flysurfer/Taaroa) - 51 pts
3 Elena Kalinina (RUS, Elf/Moses) - 52 pts
4 Gina Hewson (NZL, Ozone/Spotz) - 55 pts

Full results:

Picture Gallery:

Daily highlight videos are available from our Youtube channel

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