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Ellie Aldridge out to defend European kite title

by British Sailing Team 19 Mar 10:50 GMT 19-24 March 2024
Ellie Aldridge © Mark Lloyd

The 2024 Formula Kite Euros will take place in Mar Menor, a coastal saltwater lagoon on Spain's Iberian Peninsula, from March 19 to 24.

The GB Kite Girls - better known as Ellie Aldridge, Lily Young, Katie Dabson and Maddy Anderson - will all return to the race course for the first time since the 2023 Europeans on the home waters of Portsmouth last September. In the men's fleet British Sailing Team rider Connor Bainbridge will lead the charge, with young guns Ella Geiger, Mattia Maini, Adam Farrington, Arthur Brown, Sam Dickinson and Reece Dorman also in action.

All eyes will be on leading British athlete Ellie Aldridge, whose win at the 2023 Europeans earned her the coveted Team GB ticket for Paris 2024. Aldridge will become the first woman to represent Britain in the debut Formula Kite class this summer, but in the meantime she'll be looking to assert her dominance on her international rivals at the Euros and then the World Championships in May. It won't be an easy ride for Aldridge by any means - her training partners Young, Dabson and Anderson have proven they're all capable of competing with the world's best, and will be out to show selectors what they're missing out on.

Connor Bainbridge finished fifth at the 2023 Euros, missing out on qualifying Britain for a place at Paris 2024 in the men's kite fleet by one place. There are no quota places up for grabs in Mar Menor - but Bainbridge will be out to test his form ahead of the Last Chance Regatta in Hyeres in May, the last place he can win that coveted Olympic spot.

What they said:

Ellie Aldridge (Poole, Dorset)

"All of the years I've been kiting, the Europeans has been the last main event of the year. This time it's the first, so it's a different dynamic, particularly with the Olympics on the horizon. I don't think it will be any less important. I still want to try to do as best I can. I'm still working towards the Olympics and I'll still be trying things out and developing things to do my best there.

"I want to defend my title and if I can do that in the lead-up to the Games, it will give me a lot of confidence. But there's maybe not quite as much riding on it as other years. Realistically it's going to be even harder to win gold this year. But it's good that all of the big names are going to be here, I'll need to beat them to win the Olympics."

Lily Young (Weymouth, Dorset)

"It's quite a good check-in event for us. My main focus is the Worlds but I'm excited to see how we match up against other countries. We are the only nation who have selected for the Olympics so it's going to be pretty hectic with lots of Olympic places up for grabs. It's going to be really interesting. We'll be a lot more calm than the other countries and hopefully we can use that to our advantage."

Katie Dabson (Weymouth, Dorset)

"This event isn't necessarily an outcome event, it's more of a process event as we call them. So we instead go into it with specific goals and not necessarily looking for a medal result. Of course, if I get a medal then that's lovely but I'm going to be concentrating on working on my start and speed. A good results for me would be coming away from this event with some learnings and a new skill to get better at."

Maddy Anderson (Brightlingsea, Essex)

"It's a good opportunity to perform on the global stage. Given the timings before Worlds, which is always the pinnacle, it's an exciting and useful opportunity to put into practice the work I've done over the winter. This year, even though I'm not going to the Games, it's an incredibly exciting time for the sport. The fact that this is the first Olympic year for kiting, still to be at that top level, amongst athletes going.

"The Games provide energy, everyone's bringing their A-game. What a special opportunity to be able to compete in that environment. There's all sorts of internal selections still going on and tensions will be high, for sure. No-one will leave an inch on the racecourse. We can fairly objectively watch all of this unfold and quietly take note of what's working and not working to bring forward to my next campaign."

The official website featuring results and the full entry list is here. If you want to track the progress of the Brits the best place to do so is the British Sailing Team social media channels. Each day we will keep you posted on results, and feature the best photos the event has to offer.

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