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The Formula Kite World Championships 2021 – Torre Grande – Sardinia, Italy

The Formula Kite World Championships 2021 – Torre Grande – Sardinia, Italy

No Team, No Coach, No Sticker… worked the 6 weeks before every day… didn`t really foil and before that I have flown so many different kites and bars I couldn`t even find the right laylines and mark roundings. Sheezz.. I was not ready for this one. This might be my most unprepared competition ever. Rocking – up at the measurements with no nationality sticker (yep the big round NED sticker on front of the board…), knowing I put the numbers of my wings the other way and I didn`t proof my membership to the federation. Still have to fix a bar with shorter lines than 15m.. with a depower that actually works. Sanding the uneven corners of my foil, hoping it will be just fine. Figuring out the watch on my way to the starting line, just after the first buzzer already.  With literally skipping all events before… We decided to make it kind of a holiday on this island: Sardinia. 

 Well, it is just like two years ago when I went for my first time to a world championship, alone. Also on something like a holiday.  Yet two years later I am still alone, but with a bit more knowledge about myself, the equipment and the kitefoiling. A little better skills and compared in equipment… actually still the same (this time I didn`t had to borrow it) – but still behind on the newest bridles, the not damaged foil and the bar that actually works more than just fine. Like the Olympic cycle changed nothing, but nothing less is true. And actually there is changed a lot, in culture of people and countries (not only in the Netherlands). There is a Dutch Kitefoil team from the federation. But not for me, cause I am … alone – I guess, finding my own way, paying my own fees, equipment, rescuing myself and fixing my own tactics and strategy, figuring out what when and how. Getting rides back from other coaches – when I went on a gusty swimming mission with my 11m.. is the way I have to make it work.

It was the first worlds again since 2 years! I can`t even clearly remember 2 years ago. And in these two years happened a lot. A broken arm, sprained ankle, scary on the edge wing missions, a decision to no foiling, achieving a second master, covid 19 and its consequences, the injections and it`s outcomes… made it all harder for me than it should be. Anyway I made it racing out here on my own which is way more important.  What doesn`t kill you makes you stronger is it..?! So there we go, promising only one thing when going here – have fun! No matter, whatever… enjoy 😊 So that’s exactly what I did.

The Worlds 2021:  138 athletes, 89 man and 49 woman from 34 counties:  back on track battling for the formula kite world title of the man and woman`s individual after a two years break because of the whole covid situation (still not every country could make it – sadly). It’s the first World Championship of the Olympic cycle in which kitefoiling (kiteboarding ) will make its debut in 2024 – Paris.

The men are divided into three fleets and the woman in two fleets. The first three days will be qualifying, the fourth day separate gold, silver & bronze fleets and the last day will be the medal series for the top 12 guys and girls to decide the champions in a smaller final. In the final the top 4 will races against each other dividing the final points to be crowned as the World Champion of 2021.

First day of qualifying, filled with difficult wind. The first fleet of the girls managed to do one race in light conditions, the second fleet got stuck in wind holes around the top mark ending in a swimming party for most of the girls. I was the lucky one (of a few) with a 21m instead of a 15m and  a gust at the top mark to make it in dry. In the late afternoon after the rain shower the wind showed up again and the two girls fleets are send out for some epic sunset racing, doing three races each.  I already called it a day…

               For me that was like forever ago, I had to figure out the starting sequence again…5 minutes..?? 3 minutes..?? which flag again..?? The first two races I folded my tip for some reason in the upwind in a little gust. I had a lot of difficulties holding it and keeping it upwind to the next maneuver to unfold again.  Even though I managed to get 10/9/11th in the races. Losing some places through my own (and the kite). The last race I crashed a tack, had to dubble tack and I hit something on the top mark, so that was a late finish. But I had fun racing and figuring out the track again with the 21m. 

Second day of qualifying, it`s time for some offshore adventures. Yesterday the guys were happy the girls got out first to swim… but today we could watch them struggle to go outside before we had to face the exact same challenge. After four full rounds off the man, which looked pretty perfect from the side, but we did know better, the girls were send out.

Really big wind holes and even bigger wind gusts. To get out it was a throw your board in the water and shoot yourself after it with your kite until more windy areas – start and not come back to shore before you finish racing – pretty good tactic I would say, as it worked out just fine.

The first race the last round downwind I made it 6th but, I crashed my gybe into a full gust and inverted my 11m kite few times, flew behind it, did some rolls, saw some stars, found my board back, said hello to the rescue boat and got back up eventually slowly finished the race.  Managed to not get last and had to go straight for the other one, I did a bit more carefully– to get some decent finishes. Avoided some tangles and crashes.  The wind was all over the place, I tried everything. Sometimes pumping with the 11 and sometimes I got pulled out of my foodstraps with the 11m.  But I guess I like challenges and I like this weather. I had a lot of fun.  Although it was a loooong time ago I launched the 11m..  I really enjoyed racing in it, difficult but fun. Figuring out my own way, trying my own tactics – I never had time to think about it actually. Got  Trying different starts, got some decent downwind speed and some awesome overtaking reaches, still have some work left in my upwind though. (I knew already before coming here).  So one 20th finish and the rest some 11/ 12 / 13th – without any risk.

Third day of qualifying,  it is easier to go outside with the wind being a  bit easier, slightly more side off. But still it was hard to see how strong the wind was  all the way out there. I took the 15m for Three races and it was just fine. I ended up around the 10th places again.

               The second session I launched my 15m again, it wasn’t that windy earlier, with being in the first fleet there wasn`t that much time left. When I made it out to the starting line I realized pretty quick it was wayyyyyyyy to much! And with the girls heats going back to back no time to change so it was holding onto my kite, praying the gusts didn`t took to long.  Doing a salto over the reach the first race and some overtaking downwind, the second race I did the upwind almost twice, being dragged downwind in the upwind trying to hold my edge, but in need of more depower than I have – it dint worked that well. Depowered and upwind reaching and a new personal  record downwind slalom. Not my best finishes ever…

Gold & Silver day

Before coming here I was already prepared to chill in silver and rest my case. But anyhow, surprisingly,  I just not made it into the goldfleet after three days of qualifying. But did enjoy some silverfleet racing where I ended up 3rd in the fleet.

After the gold fleets, the silver got to race the last races. In a light breeze, slightly offshore we made 3 races with the 21m.  The first race I collapsed my tip again… the second one I did a salto again down the reach, so I enjoyed some downwind overtaking. Trying to stay out of trouble and make my rounds. The third race I just finished, losing ground upwind, winning ground downwind.

Finals and medal racing day

On shore breeze of 8- 11 knots on the final day. The first races are for the goldfeet top 14 girls and guys. The first two from the overall score are already into the final medal races. The feet is divided into two groups, each fleet gets to do two races. The one ending up first will go to the final. In the final will be raced with group of 4. The 4 will battle it out for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. One final for the woman and one for the man. The course will be slightly shorter and faster. The overall ranking from the qualifying days and the gold fleet day is taken in account when dividing the last points. The one whoever wins the race and got the most points wins.  If you did a great job into the qualifying days you only need to win one race to become the world champ (like Daniela). With the guys it took a bit longer and seemed a bit more exciting. Closer to shore (but more difficult for the rider out there with the light winds and changing win d fields). They did a great job and gave a nice show.

After all: I can be happy I finished all races, no tangles and didn`t miss any mark, o time for every start and choose my own place. Raced my own race and tried different ways possible. Managed to be racing out here on my own and had fun!

Congratzz to Daniela and Theo for being the 2021 world champions!! Thanks for some great racing again and see you all the next one!

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