World Champion makes his mark in Perth on Day 1 of the Kiteracing Oceanic Championships
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German Florian Gruber showed why he holds the World Champion Course Racing crown today, winning all of his heats in the first day of the Kiteracing Oceanic Championships at Leighton Beach, Fremantle.
Western Australia turned on near-perfect conditions with clear blue skies and winds averaging 14kn, smooth seas and temperatures in the high 20's.
Three flights of kiteracers raced just offshore in four heats each this afternoon. Overall results put Florian Gruber in fastest place in the Mens division followed by Maks Zakowski from Poland.
19-year-old Gruber said he was finding the conditions a bit different to usual.
"I'm feeling good, but pointing upwind is a little slower than usual, I think it's the current," he said.
The UK's Olly Bridge came out firing, taking the first bullet (win) for the event and finishing the day in equal third with Alejandro Climent Hernandez from Spain.
"The reach was a killer," Bridge said, "But I realised I could take Maks [Zakowski] at the bottom mark."
Fastest finishing Australian Dale Stanton, in eighth position, was stoked with his day's performance.
"It's been awesome - smooth seas, which I like. The first race was long, it took it out of everyone a bit but it's nice to be competing in Perth – we have the most beautiful beaches in the world."
The competition was fierce in the Women's division with Ariane Imbert (France) finishing just ahead of Aga Grzymska (Poland) despite them having equal points. Australia's Lisa Hickman finished fifth.
Grzymska said she really enjoyed the day but the competition was on. "The light winds and smooth seas is what I'm used to, I've been using my 13m [kite]. My battle in this event is with Ariane," she said.
There is four days of racing ahead and, as head of jury Bruno de Wannemaeker told sailors in this morning's skipper's briefing, races are not won on the start line, but they are often lost.
This is the inaugural year for the Kiteracing Oceanics, which is officially sanctioned by the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). The competition includes ten top 10 internationally-ranked male and female kiteracers and a strong field of interstate and West Australians competitors across the course racing and freestyle kiting competitions.
Tomorrow's racing commences at 11am with the second day of fast-paced Course Racing heats. Freestyle Jam heats commence on Saturday. A$30,000 in prizemoney is up for grabs in the course racing and A$5000 for the Freestyle competition.
The Kiteracing Oceanic Championships runs through to Sunday when the finals will be held in both categories and valuable world ranking points awarded.
The State Government through Tourism Western Australia is a proud supporter of the Championships.
TOP 3 MEN AFTER 4 RACES
1. Florian Gruber (GER, Ozone/Temavento) - 4 pts
2. Maks Zakowski (POL, Ozone/Temavento) - 8 pts
3. Oliver Bridge (GBR, North/North) - 9 pts
TOP 3 WOMEN AFTER 4 RACES
1. Ariane Imbert (FRA, North/North) - 6 pts
2. Aga Grzymska (POL, Ozone/Gaastra) - 6 pts
3. Nuria Gome (ESP, Ozone/Mikes Lab) - 14 pts