France’s Nico Parlier and Daniela Moroz crowned Formula Kite World Champions in Oman
Friday, November 24, 2017 4:51 PM
France’s Nico Parlier topped off a dramatic week at the Formula Kite World Championships in Oman with a near-perfect display that only served to underscore his dominance and land him the title.
Despite tense battles throughout the Medal Series today, the French rider’s sheer pace guaranteed him the title even before the last race began. A well-earned victory to add to the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) KiteFoil Class world title that he secured in Italy last month.
Dominance was felt in the women’s division as well, with 16-year-old Daniela Moroz, from the USA, notching up back-to-back world titles and winning the IKA Formula Kite World Championship crown before even taking to the water today.
“It’s really, really good. I’m pretty stoked,” said a beaming Moroz. “Coming into this there was a lot of expectation heaped on me, but I managed to stay calm. I just had fun with it and tried to keep all the pressure out of my mind.”
The more measured Parlier was equally delighted with his victory and a performance that left the rest of the pack – the strongest and youngest fleet in years – shaking their heads in awe at his speed and tactical prowess.
“It was a good day,” said Parlier. “I won today in the Medal Series after the second race and could have stayed on the beach and still have won, so in the end it was easy. But still, the level of competition was really high and it was tough. We’re going faster and faster, and I really like that because the standard of our sport is going up.”
The five-day regatta, hosted by Oman Sail with associate sponsor Al Mouj Muscat, was marked by scintillating kite hydrofoil racing in conditions that varied from 6 to 20 knots, challenging the 58 riders, including six women, from 22 countries and six continents.
In the epic conditions on the Gulf of Oman, framed by a dramatic mountain backdrop, organisers ran 108 of the short track races that last barely eight minutes, such is the devastating speed of the cutting-edge hydrofoils and the skill of the athletes who can clock almost 40 knots even in light breeze.
But kite racing is about more than pure speed. Consistency is key, as one of the early leaders, Britain’s Olly Bridge, discovered to his cost in the drama that unfolded on the final day in Oman.
Going into the last day in second place overall, Bridge had a slender lead over France’s Axel Mazella. But a disastrous second race where he finished eighth in the 10-strong Medal Series fleet, left him in a tough spot hoping the Frenchman might slip up.
Mazella responded to the pressure in the fading 6 to 7 knots of breeze and took the win in the day’s final race, just ahead of Parlier and Bridge, to clinch the second podium position.
“It was very tense out there,” said a visibly delighted Mazella. “Looking at the scoreboard I knew I could afford to finish the last race two places behind him, but I won. This short track format is really, really difficult because if you make a bad start, or a mistake, it’s over. For that reason I’m really super-happy to take second place.”
Similarly thrilled was former Formula Kite World Champion, Russia’s Elena Kalinina, who also found herself locked in a struggle for second place with France’s Alexia Fancelli, in a contest that went down to the wire.
In the final race of the event, Kalinina secured second place on the podium when she snatched a second, while Fancelli could only manage a fourth as both women struggled in the light breeze that dipped to 5 knots.
“It was very, very close right down to the last race,” said Kalinina. “The last race was the decider and we were neck-and-neck, so it came down to who made the least mistakes. I crashed on a tack, but then she did too. We’ve been fighting throughout our 26 races for the second podium place. It was great sailing—a great experience that you just can’t buy. I’m so happy.”
Despite starting the day just ahead in second place overall, Fancelli took heart from her performance that signals a huge improvement in so far as she is now pushing the former world champion to the limit.
“I’m happy, but sad at the same time,” said Fancelli. “I’m pleased with third to Elena Kalinina because I’m really close now. I’m super-happy with my progress, and I’ll be back next year to take second, or even first. I’ll definitely be working on my light-wind skills.”