Top KiteFoil Racers to Open Title Campaigns at Richest Event in China
All the globe’s leading KiteFoil athletes have journeyed to eastern China’s Weifang Binhai to begin their bids to lift the four-stop World Series’ crown on the smooth waters of the Yellow Sea.
In the process the racers will be hoping to grab a share of the spoils—a purse of €60,000, the largest in kiteboarding—at the season opener off Weifang’s Joy Sea Beach.
Weifang Binhai’s ambition now ensures that the venue bathed by lighter breezes has become a firm fixture on kite racing’s calendar, playing host to a clutch of international events including the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) Formula Kite Worlds and the KiteFoil GoldCup World Series.
The field that will take to the windward-leeward track for five days of fleet racing features 32 athletes from 16 countries, many of whom will travel south to Fujian province’s Pingtan island next week for the second stop of the World Series tour in back-to-back events in China.
October will see the reappearance of another tour favourite, Cagliari’s Poetto Beach on the Italian resort island of Sardinia, followed by the scheduled climactic finale in December in Muscat, Oman.
But before that the battles will be fought out in Weifang following the characteristically glittering opening ceremony, complete with a warm Chinese welcome.
France’s Axel Mazella will begin the defence of his KiteFoil World Series title for the tour’s overall best racer, captured in dramatic fashion in Sardinia last year when he topped the tour standings.
Yet this time he will find himself up against countryman, two-time (IKA) Formula Kite World Champion, Nico Parlier. He seized the IKA KiteFoil world title at the GoldCup finale in Sardinia, which also doubled as the one-off World Championship.
In contrast, the 2018 world title will go the best athlete of the whole KiteFoil World Series tour, with additional prize money awarded to the champion.
Both Frenchmen will no doubt be pushed hard in Weifang by Britain’s increasingly-quick and assured Guy Bridge, who took the Formula Kite European Championship title in Germany in July, seeing off the French duo in the process.
Elder sibling Olly Bridge is also among a host kite racing talent that includes Theo Lhostis (FRA) and multiple world champions Maxime Nocher (MON) and Florian Gruber (GER). Any of them could stake a claim for a win in Weifang.
Among the women, who will race with the men, the battle will certainly be between three-time Formula Kite World Champion, the US’s Daniela Moroz, and former world title holder, Russia’s Elena Kalinina, in what is bound to be five scintillating days of racing.