Friday, 04 October 2019 18:39

Title favourite out in drama-filled day at KiteFoil final in Sardinia

The hot-favourite to lift the 2019 KiteFoil World Series title at the finale being fought out on the Italian resort island of Sardinia is out of the competition after he suffered a dramatic shoulder injury in a crash in the penultimate race of the second day.

Slovenia’s Toni Vodisek, 19, had proved virtually untouchable at the opening three stops of International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) series where he dominated to take a hat-trick of victories that put him in pole position to secure the coveted crown.

But even before his campaign-ending injury, there were ominous signs his title bid was coming off the rails, thanks to several costly errors. On the second of a scheduled four days of competition off Cagliari’s Poetto Beach the teenager was disqualified from one race for crossing the line early and tangled at the bottom gate, failing to finish another.

In the early, shifty 9kts to 14kts offshore breezes Vodisek’s rivals ruthlessly capitalised on his mistakes to cement their positions or move up the order in intense action of the glorious Gulf of Angels track.

France’s Théo de Ramecourt bracketed his day’s five races with a blisteringly-quick pair of bullets and a second spot that belied a somewhat mixed effort, though it was enough to retain his overnight lead in the standings.

De Ramecourt was not alone in struggling to read the vicious shifts and falling pressure at the top mark that left many misreading the lay line and having to tack several times to make up the difference.

But later in the day as the wind shifted to the right and picked up to 18kts to 20kts on the start boat, the athletes switched from the 21m kites, down to 15m and finally 13m for breathtakingly-fast races that often ended in photo-finishes.

“I won the first race,” said De Ramecourt. “Then I took too many risks in the following races. It was super-shifty, but I wanted to be first. When I took chances it didn’t really work out for me. But I’m happy to fight and still be in the game.”

Britain’s Connor Bainbridge revelled in the battles and scooped two bullets, a second and two thirds in a stellar foray that saw him leapfrog several rivals on the leaderboard to go second overall.

“It was just super-good racing,” said Bainbridge. “In the last races I was on my 15m kite and was way overpowered. But when it’s gusty it better to stay bigger. It was nice to get out the prototype kites and see them perform in some pretty difficult conditions. A really good day.”

Bainbridge now just has the jump on the French trio of Nico Parlier, Axel Mazella and Maxime Nocher. Parlier had a strong day with a bullet and a clutch of high-placed finishes that ensured he retained his third spot overall.

With Vodisek out of the running for the World Series crown, the focus shifts to Mazella who sits second in the rankings. But with both Parlier and Nocher just a few points adrift, Mazella will have his work cut out to close out the title on the final two days of the Sardinia Kiteboard Grand Slam, sponsored byRegione Sardegna tourism and the City of Cagliari.
Among the 24 women battling in the mixed fleet of 66, the US’s Daniela Moroz seems to have no such problems. She has won every one of the 11 races so far, but newcomers Julia Damasiewicz (POL) and Breiana Whitehead (AUS) sit second and third after engrossing contests that saw Russia’s Elena Kalinina just slip to fourth overall.

“It was difficult this morning,” said former Formula Kite world champion Kalinina. “But it was difficult for everyone. It was about how lucky you were, really. The wind shifts were quite unpredictable. I’m not taking enough risks, so my speed’s a bit low. Still, it’s nice because it’s more like sailing and you can use tactics.”

Top five men after 11 races (two discards)
1 Théo de Ramecourt (FRA)        20pts
2 Connor Bainbridge (GBR)         22pts
3 Nico Parlier (FRA)                     24pts
4 Axel Mazella (FRA)                   27pts
5 Maxime Nocher (FRA)              35pts
Top five women after 11 races (two discards)
1 Daniela Moroz (USA)                127pts
2 Julia Damasiewicz (POL)            220pts                    
3 Breiana Whitehead (AUS)         233pts
4 Elena Kalinina (RUS)                233pts
5 Leonie Meyer (GER)                 237pts


Last modified on Friday, 04 October 2019 18:53
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