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  • Powered Up In Mar Menor

    A Rare Day for the 9s


    Wind gusting between 22 to 28 knots, so a day for the small kites
    French women continue to hold top 3 overall, with Nolot on top
    Switzerland’s Lengwiler enjoys a breakthrough race win
    World Champion Max Maeder leads the men’s standings
    Friday is the start of Gold Fleet racing

    It has been almost a year since the kiteboarders have raced on their smallest kites, so day 3 of the 2024 Formula Kite European Championship came as a bit of a shock to the system.

    With the wind gusting close to 30 knots at times, the decision was whether to go for an 11 square metre kite or maybe even change down to the rarely used 8 and 9 square metre options. Whereas the lighter breezes see a monotone of identical Flysurfer kites in the sky, today produced a rainbow of multiple colours as riders unpacked their lesser-used small kites from brands like Ozone and F-One.


    Some riders were relishing the prospect of big breeze competition, such as Maggie Pescetto. “I can’t wait for it,” the Italian grinned. “I love these conditions, I love racing on the 9 [square metre], so bring it on!” Pescetto finished 14th in her first of three heats in her qualifying group, but the Italian stepped on the gas in the next two, to finish 2nd and 5th and move to 10th overall in the standings.

    Her rival for Italian Olympic selection, Sofia Tomasoni, scraped into tomorrow’s Gold Fleet in 25th place but knows she has a lot to do if she’s to catch up the 15 places on Pescetto in the remaining three days of competition.

    Daniela Moroz, the six-time World Champion, has been off her usual pace this week although the American seems unconcerned. She is trialling different equipment, just to see what the alternatives are like before she makes a final decision on what to use at the Olympic Regatta this summer. In any case, her scores of 2,5,2 were among the best of the day and Moroz rises to 7th overall.

    All Images: IKA media/ Robert Hajduk


    “It was probably at Hyeres in April last year when we had some proper 11 metre days,” grinned Moroz. “I love these conditions, and today was a good opportunity to test the 9 against the 11.” Having taken a few months away from kiting to clear her mind and reset for a full assault on Paris 2024, Moroz is not expecting too much of herself results-wise in Mar Menor. “It's been a while since I've been in such a big competitive fleet like this. After taking a long break last fall and I’m just changing some things with my equipment and just kind of getting back into things.

    “I feel like I'm in a really good spot and not really paying attention to the results this week because it's really just a process regatta for me. I’m testing a lot of different kit, and I’m finding they're pretty similar in terms of performance but it kind of depends on your personal preferences as a rider.”


    At the front of the women’s fleet it’s still the French trio making the running and holding the top three places. Lauriane Nolot enjoyed scoring three bullets in her group, keeping the reigning World Champion in the top spot, two points ahead of Poema Newland who’s four points ahead of Jessie Kampman in third.

    Behind the dominant French, Elena Lengwiler continues to surprise everyone with her big leaps in performance. Today the Swiss rider won a race as well as taking a 3rd and 4th and she moves to fifth overall on the scoreboard. “I’m very happy to win a race,” she said. “A year ago I couldn’t even gybe in these conditions, so I have to be pleased with winning a race. I was nervous but I told myself, ‘You’ve got this.’” Remarkable to think that Lengwiler hasn’t even qualified for a place at the Olympics yet, but she will surely do so at the Last Chance Regatta in Hy?res just over a month from now.


    After three days of racing in three qualifying groups, the top 25 men will go into their Gold Fleet on Friday to find out who really is top dog. There have been some clear winners in their respective groups, most notably Max Maeder crossing the finishing line first in all four of his Yellow Group races. However in the first the Singaporean was UFD disqualified for having broken the start line too soon. “It’s a bit of a silly mistake because I could have relied on my speed, but I was focused on keeping my position with the people around me and must have been over by just a little bit.”

    It’s a rare error from the 17-year-old reigning World Champion who holds a 4-point lead over the reigning European Champion Riccardo Pianosi. The young Italian won one of the four races in Blue Group with Bruno Lobo, the knee surgeon from Brazil, continuing to impress with three bullets keeping him in 5th place overall.


    Three wins from four races in such tough conditions suggest that Axel Mazella is getting back to his very best after a recent knee injury. The Frenchman lies in third overall compared with next-best Frenchman Maxime Nocher in ninth. As with many riders from various nations, this week’s regatta is a critical part of deciding which of the strong French squad will go forward to represent their country at Paris 2024.

    There was a flurry of protests this evening as riders battled to keep themselves in the top 25 of the men’s and women’s fleets. That’s because Friday sees the start of Gold Fleet racing, which is expected to take place in more moderate breezes and on some of the bigger kite sizes. Thursday was an exhilarating day of high-speed racing with riders exceeding 36 knots on some of the downwind legs.

    Friday should be a little more measured, but the speeds will still be high and the competition even stiffer now that all the best are being brought together into Gold. The final two days of the regatta, this Saturday and Sunday, will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

    1. Maximilian Maeder SGP 9.0 p

    2. Riccardo Pianosi ITA 13.0 p

    3. Axel Mazella FRA 14.0 p


    1. Lauriane Nolot FRA 8.0 p

    2. Poema Newland FRA 10.0 p

    3. Jessie Kampman FRA 14.0 p

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