The Mistral fully kicked in for day four of the 2022 Formula Kite World Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia. The wind was pumping from 15 up to 22 knots, with some really hard gusts coming off the Sardinian shore. Everyone came back off the water with a big story to tell. The adrenalin and the endorphins were still pumping through every rider’s body as they stepped back on to Poetto Beach while the ever-changing cloud colours scudded overhead.
The only thing that stopped Daniela Moroz in the four women’s gold fleet races was a UFD disqualification. In every race the American crossed the finish line in first place, and thanks to the discard the five-time World Champion still counts a perfect set of race wins. Always pushing her hard, however, was the new European Champion Lauriane Nolot (FRA) who won the race from which Moroz was disqualified, along with 3,2,2 in her other races.
The front two have a significant jump on the rest of the women’s fleet, making it very likely that Moroz and Nolot will earn the two automatic places in the four-rider final at the end of the competition this Sunday. Best of the rest after a really solid outing in gnarly conditions were Poema Newland (FRA) and Breiana Whitehead (AUS), the Australian proving that her stand-out performance at the recent Europeans was no fluke.
America’s Cup skipper and keen wingfoiler Jimmy Spithill was out watching the racing from an imposing black powerboat, and was cheering Moroz along from the sidelines. “I was sitting on Jimmy’s rib between races,” smiled Moroz, who has raced with Spithill on the Team USA foiling catamaran in the SailGP circuit. “It was nice to see him again because we hadn’t caught up since I was with him for the San Francisco SailGP event back in March. When I got the UFD Jimmy was like ‘No worries, just get on with the next one.’”
AN ‘INTERESTING’ COLOUR SCHEME
They also talked about the ‘love it or hate it’ colour scheme of the new AC40 launched by America’s Cup team Luna Rossa nearby in Cagliari the previous day. “I told him, I thought the colour scheme was a very interesting idea because it makes it harder to tell what the shape the boat is. Jimmy was saying they’re already having some Joker stickers printed up for it.”
As to the high-speed duel with Nolot, Moroz said: “I was having such a good time pushing with Lauriane and she made me work super hard on the downwind, she was always right behind me. We had a really good battle and we’re super tight on points now.”
THE TONI & MAX MATCH RACE
As with the women’s fleet, there was a duel between two stand-out riders in the men’s gold fleet. Toni Vodisek (SLO) and Max Maeder (SGP) won two races apiece, putting down a level of performance that the other 23 riders struggled to match.
Vodisek was overflowing with excitement after getting his kite down on to the beach. “That was a big day for everybody,” said the Slovenian. “I wanted to congratulate every competitor in every fleet out there because nothing was easy today.”
Earlier in the afternoon when the silver and bronze fleets were racing, a big black rain cloud loomed on the horizon. Even though one of the races was about to finish, it was abandoned in a bid to give maximum time for the riders to get upwind and back on to Poetto Beach. Some made it back to terra firma in the nick of time, others were still struggling to get back and were caught up in the worst of the 40 knots squall as it struck. Coach boats joined the rescue teams to help get every rider and piece of equipment back to the beach. Everyone was safe, no one injured, although a number of kites were damaged in the worst of the squall.
11 > 15
“I’m happy that everybody got out safe and no big incidents,” said Vodisek. As to his duel with Maeder. “He’s a legend in the sport, and it was great to push each other so hard. I was using my 15 square metre and it was too much. I pulled out of the last race as I wanted to preserve my kit. I should have been on the 11 square metre, but anyway, it was the right decision [to retire].”
Maeder agreed that Vodisek’s decision to use one of his discards to preserve his kite was the right move. “That was smart thinking by Toni,” said the Singaporean who jumped up from ninth to second overall today. “He is such a strong competitor and hats off to him. He’s a wonderful rider and I enjoyed our competition on the water today. The choice of going out on the 15 [in those conditions] I will never do again though. I am sure that I would have been more efficient on the 11 [square metre] and it would have been safer for me and for my fellow competitors. I won’t make that mistake again.”
HIGHWAY TO THE SCARY ZONE
The 16 year old admits that he does get scared when the board hits speeds of 37 knots or more. Today he hit a peak speed of 38 knots, although his all-time record is 43 knots on a board barely more than a metre long.
The best riders behind the front two were the Frenchmen Axel Mazella and Theo de Ramecourt who is the defending world champion. De Ramecourt was satisfied with his day after scores of 3,10,4,2 and he has closed the gap to Mazella to just three points.
LIVE: LAST DAY OF GOLD FLEET
Saturday sees the conclusion of gold fleet racing before the top 10 men and women go through to Sunday’s climactic Medal Series. Starting 1400 hours local time the gold fleet racing will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.