Muscat: The leading riders consolidated their hold on the top tier of the leaderboard with spectacularly-close competition at the Formula Kite World Championships as conditions delivered epic racing here on Tuesday.
Britain’s Olly Bridge preserved his overnight lead with another all-star performance in breeze that quickly built to over 20knots, churning up the blue waters of the Gulf of Oman off Muscat’s Almouj Beach.
After an uncharacteristically faltering start to his day that saw him finish third in race one after mistakenly heading towards the wrong mark, the Brit barely skipped a beat winning the next five of the day’s six races. He was able to shrug off the error with a wry smile, safe in the knowledge that he had secured pole position going into the regatta’s two-day finals series that will pit the fastest racers against one another.
The younger Bridge sibling, Guy, was not so lucky on day two of the world championships. He could not repeat his opening form and slipped in the rankings, although a series of high-placed finishes saw him rank fourth on the leaderboard – enough to secure his spot in the finals series that kick off on Wednesday.
Day two of the 2017 IKA Formula Kite World Championship, hosted by Oman Sail with associate sponsor Almouj Muscat, saw a repeat performance of the fierce contest between French duo, Nico Parlier and Axel Mazella.
The pair again found themselves racing in the same qualifying series fleet. But as the breeze quickly built from 8knots to 17-18 knots, there was little between the two.
Time and again after blisteringly-quick laps of the short track, often completed in under eight minutes, they were locked together in photo-finishes in flat-out drag races on the reach to the finish line.
The smallest error was enough to concede the lead, though often on the course throughout their six races, they traded the lead only to snatch it back as they crossed the finish line.
In the end, it was Parlier who secured the lion’s share of the victories with four to Mazella’s two. The freshening breeze played to his strengths, though both were still holding down large 15m kites at the finish.
The breath-taking performances and nail-biting finishes saw the pair leapfrog Guy Bridge, putting Parlier and Mazella in second and third place respectively.
All the riders will now be reseeded into the finals series fleet.
“I like these breezier conditions. I think I really go best in this kind of weather,” said Parlier. “Because Axel Mazella and I have been battling one another, we’ll start behind Olly Bridge in points, which is definitely not an advantage, but I think the conditions are going to be completely different for the rest of the week, so it’s going to be a completely different regatta.”
Daniela reigns supreme
In the women’s fleet, the American reigning IKA Formula Kite world champion Daniela Moroz, 16, reigned supreme again, winning almost every one of the six races convincingly.
She did show that she is not invincible however when she was disqualified in one race for crossing the start-line early and only won another race by the skin of her teeth after misjudging the lay line on the downwind leg.
“I was way below the bottom mark and I had to double gybe,” said Moroz. “Some of the others passed me, but I caught up going up wind and managed to pass them on the downwind leg. It was pretty close, though!”
Top five men after 12 races (two discards)*
1. Olly Bridge (GBR) 10pts.
2. Nico Parlier (FRA) 12pts.
3. Axel Mazella (FRA) 16pts.
4. Guy Bridge (GBR) 23pts.
5. Titouan Galea (FRA) 28pts.
Top three women after 12 races (two discards)*
1. Daniela Moroz (USA) 10pts.
2. Elena Kalinina (RUS) 20pts.
3. Alexia Fancelli (FRA) 27pts.