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Formula Kite Youth Europeans and Masters Worlds 2023, Day 4 - Clash of the titans, and an omen

by Andy Rice 27 May 19:31 BST 22-28 May 2023
Clash of the Titans - Pianosi in blue, Huang in yellow - 2023 Formula Kite Youth European & Masters Worlds day 4 © IKA media / Robert Hajduk

Four wins out of five races from Saturday's session will give Qibin Huang a lot of confidence going into Sunday's Medal Series in the Formula Kite Youth European Championship.

Torregrande breeze and Sardinian sunshine delivered picture-perfect conditions for high-speed foiling and Huang looked very comfortable across the wind range.

The only heat the Chinese rider didn't win was in gold fleet race 5, when he got caught in a final-gybe tangle with local Italian favourite Riccardo Pianosi.

While the clash of kites saw the two front runners fail to finish that particular race, it made little difference in the end. Huang and Pianosi look a class apart and have comfortably booked their places in the four-rider final.

Feeling golden

"What a race today, winning four bullets out of five," smiled Huang in slight disbelief at his runaway performance. "This is my first time wearing the gold jacket [yellow bib]. It's feels absolutely different to know that you are leading the whole pack."

It took a long while for Huang and Pianosi to disentangle their kites. Fortunately for them, the breeze had picked up to the point where it was probably a good call to discard the soggy 23sq metre kites in favour of the smaller 15sq metre option for stronger winds. Huang was philosophical about the clash of kites.

"I tangled with Pianosi just before the finish, we were having a very close fight. And I hope this is not going to happen again, but this is something you must experience to become a top-level rider. Overall, racing that close can be fun but it can also be a disaster."

Polished performance from Damasiewicz

There's a similar story of runaway dominance by the front two riders in the girls' fleet. France's Héloïse Pégourié has worn the yellow bib since day one, although Poland's Julia Damasiewicz has got stronger in the past two days and carries the momentum of winning six of the last seven races in qualifying.

"I'm super happy," grinned the Polish rider. "I'm really proud of myself with today's performance. I claimed four bullets and I was about to take the fifth one, but I crashed my kite into the water. That was a stupid move and but apart from that, yeah, I'm really happy about today. It makes me really motivated for tomorrow and I think I can do it."

While the French and Polish riders are confirmed for their four-rider final, it's up to the other eight riders in the top 10 to see who will fight their way through from the semi-finals on Sunday. That's the nature of the Medal Series, carefully designed to keep the competition open all the way to the final day, while also providing some reward to the most consistent performers across the whole regatta.

The omen

Exactly a year ago on these very same waters, Nina Arcisz broke out of sixth place on the final day, sailed out of her skin and won the youth world title. Where was the Polish rider ranked as the Polish rider stepped ashore on Torregrande beach? In sixth place, later rising to fifth after protests were complete. A good omen perhaps?

Tune into Sunday's live show to find out if Arcisz or any of the chasing pack can elbow their way to the top of the podium. The livestream starts at 1145 hours Central European Time on Saturday, direct from Torregrande Beach.

Also set to conclude is the Masters Worlds, with just three points separating the top two riders, Billy Guy-Maupas from France and Turkey's Ejder 'EJ' Ginyol. In the women's Masters fleet, Thailand's Benyapa Jantawan leads Monika Zizlavska from the Czech Republic.

Results after Day 4: (top three in each division)

Youth Men

    1. CHN Qibin Huang 12p
    2. ITA Riccardo Pianosi 19p
    3. CZE Vojtech Koska 35p

Youth Women

    1. FRA Heloise Pegourie 20p
    2. POL Julia Damasiewicz 26p
    3. FRA Lysa Caval 40p

Masters Men

    1. FRA Billy Guy-Maupas 18p
    2. TUR Ejder Ginyol 21p
    3. DEN James Johnsen 45p

Masters Women

    1. THA Benyapa Jantawan 199p
    2. CZE Monika Zizlavska 235p
    3. FRA Claire Morel 251p

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