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Formula Kite Mixed Team Relay European Championships at Lake Traunsee, Austria - Day 4

by International Kiteboarding Association 19 Sep 20:31 BST 15-20 September 2020
Formula Kite Mixed Team Relay European Championships, Day 4 © IKA / Alex Schwarz

Another chill morning did not stop the Bainbridge/Aldridge (GBR) duo from locking out first place with a race to spare, who will be joined by second place Gruber/Meyer (GER) directly in the finals, with Nocher/Nolot (FRA) performing well to sit in third.

With 6-9 knots recorded at two meters above the water, everything looked set and race 5 for the Gold fleet was started on time. However, the wind strength higher up was not adequate, and the vacuum slowly descended, fading the wind to the point that as the women finished their lap, there were no male competitors with their kites flying at the changeover, prompting a swift flurry of flags with November being displayed, followed quickly by AP over Hotel, the sound signals echoing off the cliffs for miles around.

After a brief pause on shore the wind filled in properly, all the way across the lake, and race 5 was restarted in 8-12 knots at 1220. Katie Dabson (GBR) managed to recover from a less than stellar start by tacking early and heading out far right to pick up a good shift, a tactic her teammate Guy Bridge (GBR) tried as well; "...it allowed me to climb inside everyone else who had overlaid. Guy did the same as me, but didn't manage to get as lucky. The shifts are really quite big," said Dabson.

The two Polish women sailed excellently, crossing the changeover at the head of the pack, with Julia Damasiewicz leading Magdalena Woyciechowska. "Good speed, good angle, and also the best start for me so far, really happy about it! Hopefully I get the same result in the next race, and hopefully my partner can protect the position better!" said Julia, hoping to spark some fire in her teammate Jakub Jurkowski (POL) who ultimately finished in sixth, unable to hold off an impressive charge from Connor Bainbridge (GBR), whose impressive speed saw him secure a comfortable win in this race.

Also clearly racing fiercely were Maxime Nocher (FRA), followed closely by a photo finish between Michal Wojciechowski (POL) in third, Florian Gruber (GER) and Guy Bridge (GBR). Said Florian after the race; "I had good speed, feeling comfortable on the 21 [Flysurfer] power, but it's tough to catch up when you are entering last. Can get close to the guys, but if you are clear first you can control everything."

Magdalena and Julia repeated their performance in race 6, with both the Polish women starting at the boat end of the line and seeming to have an extra few degrees of height over the rest of the fleet. Julia's banter seemed to be all the motivation her teammate needed, with Jakub Jurkowski managing to maintain the lead all the way around the course and secure their first race win in the event.

With Silver fleet being so strong as well, the racing was no less intense, although it seemed as if the Slovenian charge of Toni and Marina Vodisek was finally stopped, with Marina struggling in the cold temperatures, the chill ultimately affecting her gybes and her performance. Understandably frustrated, her feelings were matched by her brother Toni; "When I am racing against Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) and Axel Mazella (FRA), there can be maximum 20 meters between us around the whole course, we are so even, which makes it hard to compete when starting so far back. Of course I am trying, I am giving it my best, but these guys are also really good" - Toni Vodisek (SLO).

Race 7 for the Gold fleet provided great racing with Julia again leading at the top mark, followed by Lauriane Nolot (FRA) and Ellie Aldridge (GBR). Ellie put on the afterburners downwind, overtaking Nolot on the dogleg from the bottom mark to the final gybe mark, although after a great manoeuvre, she was at full speed toward the changeover line when her foil suddenly ventilated, causing a heavy crash barely 20 meters from the line.

Teammate Connor, who was already powering up for a full speed changeover suddenly found himself trying to wildly kill time whilst keeping his kite up, just managing to keep from getting an OCS, although their sixth place finish in this race ultimately became one of the teams' discards. The French team capitalised on this scenario, to score a precious win, their only one of the day, with Florian Gruber (GER) again taking third place.

The final race of the day was heartstopping too, as some commotion at the top mark had spectators straining to see what happened. "Ellie and I were going around the top and I had a bigger kite than her and got sent downwind. I nearly crashed into her but I think she had mark room, so I couldn't do anything so I just crashed.

"I am not going to protest her, it wasn't her fault, she was leading. I am happy she is going to the finals in first place, I think they really deserve it, she and Connor sailed really well," said Magdalena in a warm display of sportswomanship and camaraderie.

The incident also affected Lauriane, who was chasing hard and had a different perspective; "I don't know if Magda will protest Ellie, because it looked like Ellie did not give room for Magda, and I had to fall to avoid crashing into Magda, so we will see.

"But I am still super happy, Maxime is so awesome!" Nolot grinned, commenting on her the impressive performance her teammate Maxime put on, managing to move up from fifth to second. "I was just pushing so hard to come back and it was nice actually. On the downwind I am pretty happy with the 21 [meter kite], so I managed to take two places, and one place on the upwind, so we are pretty happy about it." said Maxime, after a great performance by the French team today, who sit in third in the Gold fleet at the end of the day.

An impressive effort, but it is Connor Bainbridge/Ellie Aldridge who sit in first and Florian Gruber/Leonie Meyer in second, the two coveted positions which progresses the teams straight through to the Finals. When asked about their dominance in today's racing, Connor was quick to praise his teammate; "We can thank Ellie for that one! The wind was a little stronger today which played to my strengths a little bit more, I have been struggling in that super light stuff."

"Ellie brought it home for us though, she was never out of the top three, and I knew that if we were in the top three at the changeover, we were in with a shout for that win. We are super happy to be going through in first place, starting with a leg up in the finals, but tomorrow is another day, I think it could be pretty challenging so we are not going to celebrate too soon." remarked Connor.

In the Silver fleet, the Vodisek siblings had no answer for the dominating performance of Axel Mazella (FRA) and Alexia Fancelli (FRA), who today scored three bullets and a third. "Today was a good day!" grinned Alexia. "The first race I had a 19m kite, and I felt overpowered upwind, so I switched to the 15 and I was completely in the game with good starts, and managed to give Axel some advantage at the changeover, so I think it was a good day for us!"

Tomorrow's Super Sunday competition set to be thrilling, with super competitive racing guaranteed for semi finals, it is all to play for in this incredibly breathtaking event.

Top five teams after eight final series races (two carried forward scores, two discards)

1 GBR 14 Bainbridge / Aldridge 15 pts
2 GER 10 Gruber / Meyer 20.3 pts
3 FRA 12 Nocher / Nolot 22 pts
4 POL 21 Wojciechowski / Woyciechowska 27 pts
5 GBR 22 Bridge / Dabson 28 pts

Find full results here.

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