HomeKITELast Chance to push Kites to the Max

Last Chance to push Kites to the Max

– 125 competitors from 36 natiDeurynd every continent represented
– 79 men from 32 countries, 46 women from 25 countries
– Six days of competition in Hyères, south of France
– Singapore’s Max Maeder and France’s Lauriane Nolot are the defending champions
– The last big event before kiteboarding debuts at the Olympics in July

The 2024 Formula Kite World Championships are about to get underway in Hyères in the South of France. Taking place from 13 to 19 May, this is the last big regatta before kiteboarding makes its Olympic debut at Paris 2024 less than three months from now.

With foiling kiteboarding set to be the fastest of any Olympic sport this summer, these 35-plus knot athletes are working hard to be at their best for the biggest regatta of their lives. But in some ways it’s harder to win a World Championship than an Olympic medal because the fleet is much bigger and some of the best in the world will be absent from the Games.

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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Glittering conditions for the practice race


Jessie Kampman is a case in point. The French rider missed out on selection to the Olympics, beaten to the spot by the 2023 World Champion Lauriane Nolot in a fiercely fought French selection that also included Poema Newland. However on these same waters at the end of April in Hyères, Kampman came away from the Semaine Olympique Francaise with the gold medal, ahead of Britain’s Ellie Aldridge in silver and Nolot with the bronze.

From further afield beyond Europe are serious contenders for the world title including Australia’s Breiana Whitehead and the six-time World Champion Daniela Moroz from the USA.

But probably the most intriguing athlete to watch at this event will be Elena Lengwiler from Switzerland. At the Last Chance Regatta recently in Hyères, the rapidly improving Swiss rider swept the board and claimed one of the final remaining national spots for the Olympics.

Such has been her progress over the past few months, it’s quite probable Lengwiler will be challenging for a medal at the Worlds. Nolot acknowledged the growing abilities of Lengwiler. “Elena is very fast in a straight line, but if she wins this year I think that’s a bit too easy. We have to make it more complicated for her,” she laughed.

As for the men, the Worlds offer a final chance for the fleet to challenge Max Maeder on a competitive stage before they line up in July for the Games. The 17-year-old from Singapore has kept on getting better and better and has won most major events of recent times including last year’s world title and this year’s Europeans in Spain. Having dominated the Semaine Olympique Francaise in April, Maeder is clearly as at home with the conditions in Hyères as anywhere else.

For the men, this is a last chance regatta of another kind, because it’s up to the likes of Slovenia’s Toni Vodisek and France’s Axel Mazella – respectively the silver and bronze medallists at the Semaine Olympique Francaise – to take the fight to Maeder and prove they are good enough to take the gold. Vodisek was the 2022 World Champion when he narrowly beat Maeder in Sardinia, and Mazella took gold at the Olympic Test Event last summer, so they both know what it takes to win at the highest level.

Racing begins on 14 May, with the riders splitting into qualifying fleets for the first three days of the six-day competition. The final two days will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

More info at kiteclasses.org

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