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Formula Kite Youth Europeans and Masters Worlds 2023 - Day 1

by International Kiteboarding Association 25 May 2023 15:19 BST 22-28 May 2023
Tangle just before the finish for French rivals - Formula Kite Youth Europeans and Masters Worlds 2023, Day 1 © IKA media / Robert Hajduk

After four races in warm winds of 8 to 16 knots, some clear patterns are already beginning to emerge in the three world-class kitefoiling contests taking place in Torregrande, Sardinia.

China and Italy on fire

For the under 21 year olds, the Formula Kite Youth European Championship is one of the biggest events of the season. For qualifying, the boys are split into yellow and blue divisions, and there were two clear winners from each group. Four straight wins for Qibin Huang of China, four straight wins for Riccardo Pianosi of Italy.

Fighting hard with Pianosi in yellow group was Lucas Fonseca from Brazil. "Last year I was 20th in the Youth World Championship here in Torregrande," said Fonseca. "I had a lot of work to do to make improvements and today I feel all the work I have done is paying off.

"I made a few mistakes, I had a crash when I was pushing hard to try to win one race. I was side by side with Riccardo in another race and made a small mistake in the gybe when I let the tip of my kite touch the water. These are the things I still have to work on, but I feel I am going in the right direction."

Good recovery by Pégourié

Compared with the runaway winners in the boys' fleet, things weren't quite so cut and dried in the girls' fleet. In the first heat, two top French riders were neck and neck with less than 100 metres to the finish. But a tangle of kites brought Héloïse Pégourié and Lysa Caval crashing to the water. Pégourié limped across the line in 14th while Caval didn't manage to finish. Another rider from the strong French squad, Chloé Revil, went on to win the opening heat.

However, for the next three races Pégourié avoided the tangles and broke clear to take three back-to-back victories. This puts the French rider in the lead, four points ahead of youth world champion Julia Damasiewicz from Poland.

Bouncing back from a broken leg

It's an almost a year since Derin Deniz broke her leg at the Kitefoil World Series Gizzeria competition in the south of Italy. "It has been a long recovery, I couldn't walk for six months," said Deniz, her right leg still heavily strapped and protected in a solid brace. "It's good to be back racing. I still have a lot to do to recover to full strength but I'm happy with my races from today, a 7,8,10,12." These results put the Turkish rider in 8th overall and on track to hit her target of a top 10 finish as she builds up her strength and confidence on the board.

Maupas leads the Masters

For riders aged 35 and over, this is the Masters World Championship. Denmark's James Johnsen won the opening heat but the next three wins went to Billy Guy Maupas from France. Aged 52, Johnsen was very happy with his first day in Torregrande. "It was such a good day on the water," said the dedicated Dane. "I was on my 23 [square metre kite] all day, and it felt very good.

"The start of my day was particularly good, and then I made some mistakes later in the afternoon, stupid stuff with positioning on the race course, but pretty happy. It's fun racing in our own age division, we're a bit more mature, not taking so many risks as these superkids. We're not so keen to put ourselves in places that might end up in big collisions."

Foiling spouses

The only husband and wife team in the fleet are Jean Romain and Claire Morel from France. While Jean Romain is up in third overall, Claire is fighting nearer to the back of the fleet but is loving every moment. "Our nine-year-old daughter is back in France being looked after by her grandparents, and we are here enjoying our holiday, but racing hard too," said Claire, aged 41.

"We don't train hard like the kids, this week in Torregrande is our training! Being on these busy start lines, you learn a lot very quickly. The good thing about kiting is you don't need to be super strong, you don't need a lot of muscle, more endurance, so we can keep doing this for many years. I love it, and I will keep on coming back for more, for as many years as my body allows me to race."

For Thursday, the 91 riders from 22 countries and four continents will look to complete four more high-adrenalin races on the glittering Gulf of Oristano.

Results (top 3 after 4 races)

Youth Men

    1= CHN Qibin Huang 4p
    1= ITA Riccardo Pianosi 4p
    3. CZE Vojtech Koska 8p

Youth Women

    1. FRA Heloise Pegourie 3p
    2. FRA Julia Damasiewicz 7p
    3. FRA Chloe Revil 8p

Masters Men

    1. FRA Billy Guy-Maupas 3p
    2. ITA Simone Romano 7p
    3. FRA Jean Romain Morel 8p

Masters Women

    1. CZE Monika Zizlavska 50p
    2. THA Benyapa Jantawan 50p
    3. FRA Claire Morel 63p

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