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Collisions and tangles at Kite European Championships

by Anna Zykova / Australian Sailing Team 1 Oct 05:34 BST
Nafpaktos Bay - 2022 Lepanto Formula Kite European Championships © Robert Hajduk / IKA media

It was a meteorologist's nightmare on the third day of racing at the 2022 Lepanto Formula Kite European Championships. The expected 12-13 knots never materialised causing long waits ashore, then when fickle winds did emerge, they caused crashes and tangles among the riders struggling to come to grips with it.

The lack of wind meant no racing for the Silver and Bronze fleets across both the men's and women's classes today, meaning Breiana Whitehead (Australian Sailing Squad) was the only Aussie to take to the course.

It was a long wait ashore before any racing got under way for the women's Gold Fleet, with the AP going down at 15:45 with 6-8 knots of Westerly breeze on the bay. The rules of the regatta state that the Gold Fleet would be reduced to ten riders tomorrow, so Whitehead had her work cut out to stay among the top riders after finishing yesterday in fifth.

In the first race of the third qualification series today Magda Woyciechowska (POL) rounded the top mark first after a good start, holding that lead toward the finish. Behind her collisions and tangles happened at the top mark and some riders couldn't get back foiling which resulted in a swathe of DNCs across the fleet. Riders were finding it tricky to keep their kites up and boards above the water in the light breezes. There was just enough wind for big 21m kites to keep riders powered up, but they had to do a lot of pumping out of every manoeuvre to get going.

Whitehead noted how tricky the first race was; "Getting the start right was crucial, but my first start today didn't go as planned. I thought I had all my gear ready but found a rip in my kite just as I was about to launch. After a quick fix I had enough time to look around the course quickly and get straight into racing. In such tricky conditions you need that extra time to get your head around what's happening on the course. Trying to stay clean and get around all the chaotic roundings was really the most important part of the race."

Coach Shane Smith commented; "Breiana wasn't the best at the first start but had a good start in Race 2 having finished in 5th place. The results in the fleet were so variable. I think for some of them it was a case of taking a risk, but they could end up in the part of the course where there was no wind."

Gal Zukerman (ISR) took out the second race, where she found good gusts on the left-hand side of the course. Whitehead finished in 8th, meaning she stays in fifth overall before more Gold Fleet racing tomorrow.

Whilst Whitehead is putting together fantastic results on the course, she notes that there is still plenty of learning and development to come out of the regatta.

"Putting pressure on yourself doesn't give a better outcome, so I'm just trying to enjoy it,"said Brei. "I'm more focused on what performance I want to get out of racing, areas that I want to do well, that I've been working on and how they go against bigger fleets."

She will now look to convert these learnings into the Worlds which start on October 8. "This event is really cool with high level of sailing, but I am also set on the Worlds."

It was the same story with the men's fleets with only the Gold Fleet racing today. After a very tricky Race 1, that was won by young Italian Riccardo Pianosi, the second Gold fleet race was abandoned. The wind became so unstable with kites dropping that racing was postponed ashore in hope of it filling in later. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and the Silver and Bronze fleets never made it to the water.

Tomorrow is another day of Gold, Silver and Bronze races with priority on the Gold fleet depending on wind conditions. The fist possible warning signal has been moved to 10am, but with the breeze typically building up in the afternoon it might mean more waiting.

Visit the event website for full results. There will be Livestreaming of racing on Saturday from 09H40 Eastern European time on Facebook and YouTube of the International Kiteboarding Association.

Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) and Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) at the 2022 Formula Kite European Championships:

Overall results after 6 races - men (with 1 discard):

Silver fleet:

4th - Hector Paturau (ASF) - 15, 10, (16), 6, 10, 7 (48 points)
7th - Scott Whitehead (ASS) - (13), 6, 12, 12, 8, 12 (50 points)
16th - Alex Landwehr (ASF) - 4, (31 DNC), 9, 15, 19, 14 (61 points)

Bronze fleet:

22nd - Daniel Self (AUS) - 18, 24, (31 UFD), 25, 22, 25 (113 points)

Overall results after 8 races - women (with 2 discards):

Gold fleet:

5th - Breiana Whitehead (ASS) - 4, 1, (7), 3, 5, 3, (14), 8 (24 points)
23rd - Jane Taylor (AUS) - (15), 12, 9, 11, 14, 7, (25 DNC), 16 (69 points)

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