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Ocean Safety 2023 - New Identity - LEADERBOARD

Formula Kite Asia & Oceania Championships 2023 - Day 1

by Andy Rice 22 Nov 2023 12:01 GMT 21-26 November 2023
Launching off the beach - Formula Kite Asia & Oceania Championships 2023 - Day 1 © IKA Media

Max Maeder narrowly won the opening race of the Formula Kite Asia & Oceania Championships today in Shenzhen, China. It was a close three-way battle between Maeder, his Croatian training partner Martin Dolenc, and local Chinese favourite Qibin Huang.

That first race for the men would prove to be the only competition of the day as the breeze was too soft for reliable racing and kites were falling out of the sky and into the water.

Making a great start off the pin end was Denis Taradin from Cyprus in his first race since suffering a nasty injury during training in Tarifa, Spain, just two weeks earlier. With his leg stitched up and on the mend, Taradin was keen to see how his recovery was going, and keen to get back racing. "I got a good start and was first into the left-hand corner of the race course," said Taradin.

"When I tacked I struggled to keep the speed going and I fell into the water. I think my straight-line speed is fine but when we need to pump out of the tack or any time I want to accelerate, I think my leg is not strong enough yet after the injury. The muscles need to get stronger again."

Dolenc took up the lead on the right-hand side of the race course. "I got lifted after the start and was leading until the second upwind leg. Unfortunately when I tacked I got headed a lot and missed the lay line because the wind was shifting so much. It was super hard and on the downwind we all went our separate ways. At the bottom mark we all came together again, but with the other two just in front of me."

Huang briefly led the race on the downwind leg. "But Max took a more aggressive line towards the bottom mark and he managed to overtake me, so he sailed well," said Huang who was at least happy with his start. "I've done more than 200 practice starts in the past month and I think that is really helping me get off the line."

Along with female rider from China, Jingue Chen, Maeder had represented the fleet in taking the competitors' oath at the elaborate Opening Ceremony earlier in the morning. "We all really enjoyed the ceremony this morning but we got a rough awakening to the real world of racing when we got on the water and I think everyone was a bit shaken.

"We had a lot of small fish in the racing area and I think my foil hit about 40 fish during the race. You hear this 'pop, pop, pop' sound and you realise you're hitting fish, which can't be nice for them and isn't nice for us either. I almost crashed because of one fish collision."

Despite his close encounters of the fish kind, Maeder was happy to have won the race and displayed his typical humility. "I caught a lucky break on the last downwind which got me into the lead," said the 17-year-old.

The men's and women's fleet went out late afternoon for a brief uplift in the breeze but then it faded again before racing could resume. For Poland's Julia Damasiewicz, she was happy simply to get back to the beach with a dry kite. "It's so much better if you can keep the kite in the sky," she smiled. "That was my bullet for the day, a little victory."

Racing is set to continue on Thursday morning, with the event reaching its climax this Sunday with the 10-rider Medal Series.

For more information on the event: www.formulakite.org/2023asians

Results Men after day 1:

    1. Maximilian Maeder, SGP - 1 point
    2. Qibin Huang, CHN - 2 points
    3. Martin Dolenc, CRO - 3 points

See full results here

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