HomeFormula KiteFormula Kite Youth Europeans and Masters Worlds 2023

Formula Kite Youth Europeans and Masters Worlds 2023

Héloïse Pégourié overcame the odds to win a last-gasp gold in Torregrande. The French rider becomes the Formula Kite Youth European Champion alongside Italy’s Riccardo Pianosi who won the boys’ title in the under-21 fleet.

Pégourié had worn the yellow bib all week, which meant she had an automatic place in the four-rider girls’ final and would only need to win one race on the last day. By her own admission, however, she made quite a few mistakes in the early races, including a UFD disqualification for breaking the start line marginally too soon in the previous race. She crossed the finish line in first but received no result.

The French errors left the door open for two Polish rivals to take the title away from her. Julia Damasiewicz won a race in the finals, and Magda Woyciechowska who had earned her place after winning her semi-final earlier in the afternoon, won two.

Who Beats Who…

This set up the next race for a thrilling scenario where, apart from the fourth athlete Chloe Revil from France who had yet to score, any one of the three competitors would win depending on who crossed the line first.

Early on, the Polish teammates were making all the running and it simply looked like a matter of which Pole would take gold in their match race. But somehow Pégourié fought her way back into contention on the final downwind leg, finding an extra click of pace as the fleet flew full-throttle at faster than 30 knots in the 10 knot breeze.

Pégourié executed the final two pressure gybes to perfection, not daring to look back as the two Poles wiped out on the final gybe of the course. The French rider crossed the finish in first, although it took a few moments before Pégourié allowed herself to believe she had actually won. “After the disqualification [in the earlier race] I didn’t think it was real,” she said. “Even now I can’t believe it. I haven’t won a big regatta like this before. It’s a dream to win here.”

How much is that Doggy in the Window?

Her mother was there to celebrate the win on the beach. Her father was watching the livestream on the internet from France. “I was telling myself I had to do it for him, he has been such a big supporter. And I made a bet with my mum and dad that if I won here then they would get me another dog. I don’t think they really agreed with the bet, but I did win,” she laughed, adding that she would like a big dog for her reward.

After coming so close to victory, Julia Damasiewicz and Magda Woyciechowska had to console themselves with silver and bronze medals respectively. Still a great achievement for the Polish riders. The closeness of competition offered an ideal opportunity to trial drone umpiring for the first time. Although it didn’t have a material outcome on the result of the regatta, the final mark rounding by the two Polish riders and subsequent wipeout led to a disqualification for Woyciechowska. The plan is to continue the drone umpiring at future kitefoiling events, to see if it is a viable addition to existing forms of umpiring.

Pianosi Rises to the Occasion

In the boys’ fleet, Qibin Huang had dominated racing all week, but the Chinese rider couldn’t quite bring his A game for the switch to the four-rider finals format. Even when the port tack approach – so rare in normal fleet racing – was proving to be successful for others, Huang persisted with starboard tack starts that put him behind at the first cross at the top of the race course.

Riccardo Pianosi adapted his approach and chose the port tack starting option. The Italian looked more assured with his sense of purpose and decision making. Having qualified for the final from his second place in qualifying, Pianosi needed to win two races in the final. It wasn’t easy, but he’d got there. “I wasn’t sure if I could beat Qibin today,” admitted Pianosi. “He has sailed really well this week but I just went out to do my best and it was good enough.” Huang took silver and bronze went to Vojtech Koska from the Czech Republic.

Not much time for celebration though, according to Pianosi. “I might have a meal tonight with my girlfriend, but not too late as I have an early flight to the Netherlands.” Pianosi is going straight back to senior competition, competing at the Allianz Regatta along with the rest of the Olympic fleet as they work towards Paris 2024 in just over a year’s time.

EJ Edges IT

In the Masters Worlds, Ejder ‘EJ’ Ginyol had been playing catch-up all week after a poor opening day. The Turkish rider finally came good in the last race, finishing second while the front runner all week, Billy Guy-Maupas from France, could only manage 9th in the fading breeze. Ginyol won the world title by two points, with Guy-Maupas second and the Grand Masters world champion James Johnsen from Denmark also taking third overall. Thailand’s Benyapa Jantawan won the women’s Masters fleet, with Monika Zizlavska from the Czech Republic in second and Claire Morel from France in third.

Today’s Medal Series finals, livestreamed on the internet, were a good advertisement for the format which aims to deliver thrilling action all the way to the end of the competition. The girls’ final in particular was a real nailbiter and demanded nerves of steel all the way to the finish line.

Results (top 3 overall)

Youth Men

1 ITA Riccardo Pianosi
2 CHN Qibin Huang
3 CZE Vojtech Koska

Youth Women

1 FRA Heloise Pegourie
2 POL Julia Damasiewicz
3 POL Magda Woyciechowska

Masters Men

1 TUR Ejder Ginyol 23p
2 FRA Billy Guy-Maupas 25p
3 DEN James Johnsen 46p

Masters Women

1 THA Benyapa Jantawan 216p
2 CZE Monika Zizlavska 254p
3 FRA Claire Morel 265p

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