Three consecutive Gold Fleet race wins have launched Poema Newland to the top of the women’s competition on day four of the 2023 Formula Kite European Championships in Portsmouth, England. The French rider has now overtaken local star Ellie Aldridge for the top of the leaderboard, although the British rider also sailed well to sit just a point off the top.
After a week of chaotic weather the sunshine and the wind strength was a little more consistent today, most of the riders selecting their medium-size 15 square metre kites and sticking with them throughout today’s four Gold Fleet races. More than any variation in the wind or the strong tide of the Solent, it was the seaweed that proved yet again to be Mother Nature’s greatest challenge for the riders trying to maintain their balance on their one-metre flying boards.
“I crashed on my first tack of the day,” shrugged Newland with a smile. “I missed my footstrap on the tack and I crashed like a beginner. Every day it seems I need to get a slap in the face then I wake up,” she laughed. The slap in the face certainly worked for Newland who managed to negotiate the large amounts of seaweed to win the next three races and move into the lead. “The seaweed means you have to ride the board in a different way, a lot of pressure on the back leg. Now my legs are tired so I will have an ice bath tonight. Ten minutes in the ice is not nice, I hate it, but I found that it helps for the next day.”
Sitting behind the front two in the women’s fleet is another British rider Lily Young, and back in fifth and sixth are two riders engaged in a battle for the one qualifying spot up for grabs to win a ticket to next year’s Olympic Games, Paris 2024. Former European Champion Julia Damasiewicz from Poland sits just a point behind fifth-placed Alina Kornelli from Austria. “I’m really surprised the battle is so close between me and Alina,” said Damasiewicz. “I didn’t expect things to be going so well but I’m enjoying the racing and the conditions were great today. I’m going to keep on pushing, keep on fighting, and I hope I can win that place at the Olympics this week.”
There’s similar Olympic battle going on between Great Britain and Germany in the men’s fleet. Currently Connor Bainbridge and Jannis Maus hold fourth and fifth place overall but they are absolutely tied on points. This looks set to be a battle all the way through to the end of the Medal Series on Sunday afternoon.
Just in front of the Olympic battlers is Martin Dolenc in third who has already qualified Croatia for a spot at Paris 2024, while the top of the leaderboard is occupied by two Italian friends and rivals. Riccardo Pianosi continues to hold the lead but Lorenzo Boschetti was the only man to win two races today, moving up to second overall and seven points behind his teammate.
“I was getting good starts and choosing the best side of the race course quite well,” said Boschetti. “I was going for the right-hand side upwind and then gybing to stay on the same side of the course near the beach. But I didn’t like the amount of seaweed in the water. I prefer sushi, so more sushi tomorrow, less seaweed please.”
Three of the four races were won by the top two Italians with the other race won by Maksymilian Zakowski from Poland who moves up to seventh overall. He sits one place in front of the 2021 World Champion from France, Theo de Ramecourt who is starting to come to terms with the seaweed and the way that it changes the game. “The seaweed is annoying but you can’t think about it too much,” said de Ramecourt. “You have to work out if it is worth doing a jump to shake the weed off your foil, but then you lose ground to the other riders and who knows when you will catch the weed again. So I think it is better to keep going and live with it. It is the same for everyone.”
On Saturday the Gold and Silver Fleet will continue with four races to conclude this phase of the competition. At the end of the day we’ll see who has made it through to the final 10 men and women who will go forward to contest the Medal Series on Sunday.
The finals weekend (23-24 September) is completely FREE to attend for spectators. Come along and watch the world’s best riders battle it out just metres from the shore at Eastney Beach.
The Event Village will feature music, food and drink stalls, kids activities, opportunities to try watersports and a big screen to view all the action on the water.
The final two days of racing will also be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook so you can watch remotely.