KITE RACE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2013 - CHINA
NORTH KITEBOARDING TAKE 3RD, 4TH, 5TH MENS KITERACE WORLDS AND 2ND IN WOMANS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Over 160 riders from more than 40 countries gathered to battle for the men’s and women’s titles in five days of competition at the International Kiteboard Association course racing world championships being staged in China for the first time. The North International Team travelled from all parts of the world for this, the final showdown of the year & battle for the title, joined also by team manager - Dirk Hanel.
From day 1 the conditions were perfect as winds of more than 20 knots blew steadily over Boao's King Bay, Hainan. The fleets were split and a total of 4 races per day were sailed in each fleet. This qualifying series took 2 days and determines a Gold/Silver/bronze fleet. The womans fleet was one opening series until the final day when they also have the medal race format. Consistency and keeping out of trouble was the key to success with only 1 discard in the whole regatta. Conditions were similar for these 2 days with all North Kiteboarding riders choosing their 9mtr or 11mtr 2013 Dyno kites and a rolling swell at the windward mark which was placed on the reef to liven things up a bit! These 2 days was about keeping things clean and for young Olly Bridge - mens European Champion at age 16, this allowed many older riders to have their say in the protest room. Maxime Nocher (FRA) took a big fin cut on his heel which meant a trip to hospital for stitches, however this only later enhanced his performance!!
Day 3 & 4 of gold fleet racing was a mix of stronger & lighter winds which saw some upsets up and down the rankings. A close battle between Johnny Heineken and Florian Gruber (GER) saw Johnny defeated when the wind dropped giving Florian a lead going into the medal races. The biggest stir was from 16 year old Olly Bridge (GBR) who came into the gold fleet racing in 11th position but scored some top 5 results on day 3 & 4 to climb up to 3rd going into the medal race day. Also stepping up his game, Maxime scored bullets in the final 2 gold fleet races, taking his ranking up to 4th. Olly, Maxime & Blazej were just a couple of points behind the Reigning World Champion, Johnny Heineken and although would take a miracle to get to 1st, all knew that with the lighter winds predicted for the medal races, they would have a good advantage over Johnny.
A great spirit amongst the team with 3 out of the top 5 riders all competing for North Kiteboarding and riding the NKB 69 Race Ltd and the North Dyno 2013 kites. Riding for Denmark, James Johnson showed some real moments of glory having qualified for Gold fleet and ended 30th overall.
The womans fleet saw tighter racing with many switched positions between the young Russian- Eleanor Kalinina, Steph Bridge (GBR) and Erika Heineken (USA). The lighter winds suiting Steph & Eleanor, however this was not enough to defeat the lead that Erika had built over the first 2 days of the championship. North Kiteboarding womans rider from France, Ariane Imbert took a big step up in performance scoring all top 10 results and placing her in 9th position going into the final day.
The final day of the event in Boao, Hainan being organised and locally managed by Kite tour Asia (KTA) and the resort development of King Bay, saw winds up to 8 knots and many switches in direction. This proved difficult to set a course and allow fair racing to take place for the final medal race series. With a cut off time of 4pm, many riders thought the chance to go on the water was very slim, however by 2.30pm enough wind had filled in to start the 1st Mens Medal Race. Taking their 17mtr North Kiteboarding Dyno kites, long lines, biggest fins it was a battle to keep the kites in the air, however it was Maxime Nocher (FRA) who showed the field that this was his day & won the only medal race this day. This was enough to secure his lead over Olly Bridge (GBR) who got knocked down to 4th place in the overall rankings. The medal race for the womans fleet went into sequence however soon got abandoned when the wind dropped below 5 knots.
The closing ceremony was held in King Bay with fireworks, live music and in true chinease fashion, the ceremony was top quality with every detail impeccable. A superb week for North Kiteboarding with such a strong positive presence in the top 5 and all 3 of the mens top 5 team under 21years old.
Many of the NKB riders now travel to Sail Melbourne followed by the Oceanics in Perth. Both are big events with great organisation, prize money and points for the isaf world ranking. Well done and good luck to all the North Kiteboarding team members!!
Mens OPEN Results:
1st Florian Gruber (GER)
2nd Johnny Heineken (USA)
3rd Maxime Nocher (FRA)
4th Olly Bridge (GBR)
5th Blazej Ozog (POL)
Womans OPEN Results:
1st Erika Heineken (USA)
2nd Steph Bridge (GBR)
3rd Eleanor Kalinina (RUS)
4th Katja Roose (NETH)
9th Ariane Imbert (FRA)
Under 18 world Champion: 1st Olly Bridge (GBR) 2nd Mario Calbucci (ITA) 3rd Martin Dolenc (CRO)
Under 21's World Champion: 1st Florian Grubber(GER), 2nd Maxime Nocher(FRA) , 3rd Olly Bridge (GBR)
Kite Race World Championships 2012 - Cagliari
In the history of Kiteboarding all that took part in the champagne racing conditions in Cagliari bay last week will always remember this event as the start of something really really big in our sport. Over 220 riders from 40 countries met in a showdown of colour, excitement & crashes for this was the start of a new road for many competitiors now that kiteboarding has replaced windsurfing for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
In the mens fleet, racing started with a qualifying series, with three groups of 51 sailors each which were re-seeded by the first racing days results before the fleet got split into Gold/Silver/Bronze for the final series day. In the womens fleet, a single opening series was run over the first three days, followed by a medal race series on Sunday.
North riders were joined by kite designer Ken Winner & production manager Dirk Hanel - most using the new North Dyno Ltd & battling it out in the first 2 days to gain selection for the much sought after Gold fleet. It was close racing amongst Maxim Nocher (FRA), Olivier Dansin (FRA), Florian Gruber (GER), Blajez Ozog (POL) with Oliver Bridge (GB) not far away.
The womans fleet saw 2012 European Champion - Steph Bridge come head to head daily with Johnny's sister- Erika Heineken. Brazilian rider -Nayara Licariao & Alice Brunacci (ITA) took top 10 results during this qualifying series.
After day 3 the top 10 riders from the girls fleet & top 10 riders from the mens went head to head in a medal race to determine the 2012 World Champion. All could be lost or gained in an 8 minute umpired fleet race which was carried out in gusty offshore conditions. The beach scene was huge & North kiteboarding provided the much needed support for the competitors that made it to the final.
It was the womens turn first, with the whole fleet starting on starboard towards the first leg, and the battle was on between Steph Bridge and Erika Heineken. Being only one point separated, it was open for virtually every sailor who qualified for the medal race series to win the event. In the end it was Steph Bridge taking the win in this race, meaning that both Erika and Steph were tied in points now and whoever won the last race would take the tittle. Coming in in third, it was Nayara Licariao (BRA, North). Race 2 of this medal race day was more of a challenge to fight back after a windshift on the start line & steph's chance of her 5th World tittle was looking in doubt. Pushing the board hard & using the bands of wind to her advantage was not enough, a 1 point defeat & steph took home the Silver medal while 4th place went to Nayara Licariao (BRA and 8th to Alice Brunacci (ITA).
The men's medal race involved huge place changes, crashes & penalty turns & the eventual results were Maxime Nocher (FRA) in 5th place, Florian Grubber (GER) in 7th place while Olivier Dansin (FRA) was in 8th position. Disappointment for Blazej Ozog (POL) who was black flagged on the final gold medal race & this pushed him out of the medal race day to finish in 14th overall.
Other huge success's for the North team were for Ken Winner who was 3rd overall in the Grandmasters and Oliver Bridge (GB) who at age 15 became Youth World Champion with Jannis Maus (GER) in 2nd & Oswald Smith (RSA) 3rd. Race Team Manager - Dirk Hanel had some bad luck in the qualifying series however what was apparent at this event was the level to which kite racing is now going to be with most athletes taking this full time in their run up to Rio 2016.