France’s Lauriane Nolot, riding an Ozone R1 V4, clinched her first Formula Kite European championship crown in dramatic fashion, sealing victory with an audacious inside pass at the last mark in the final on waters off the historic Greek town of Nafpaktos.
Compatriot Jessie Kampman, also on Ozone, grabbed the silver medal in the four-berth final, courtesy of strong performances earlier in the six-day regatta on the Gulf of Patras. Those gave her the edge and earned her the second podium step.
Ozone team rider, Slovenia’s Toni Vodišek, was delighted to secure the men’s continental European title after hard-fought battles. He began the final seeded number two following the qualifying races, but a mistake gave Singapore’s Max Maeder the lead and the open European championship crown.
Both Nolot and Vodišek were stoked to be on their 11m
2 Ozone R1 V4 kites in the final as the breeze picked up to 16kts to 20kts. The wind was shifty and gusty, but both felt more comfortable in the stronger conditions on their Ozone kites.
After a faltering start to the regatta in super-light conditions, Nolot grew stronger. On the fifth and penultimate day of racing, the Frenchwoman scored three wins from five on her 15m
2 R1 V4, giving her the box seat for the closing day’s final.
But when it came, Nolot faced a stern challenge in the breeze that began to drop. She chose her slate blue 11m
2 R1 V4, while key rival, Spain’s Gisela Pulido Borrell, had chosen a 15m 2 for the tense finals shootout.
The final was incident-packed. Nolot crashed on the first upwind leg as the seas picked up in the late-afternoon breeze, but recovered quickly to get back on par. But Kampman missed a gybe at the first downwind mark of the two-lap race, almost taking out Nolot and Pulido who were just ahead.
Nolot was faster than Pulido on the next upwind leg, but the tables were turned on the final downwind run as the Spaniard used the larger 15m
2 to her advantage. It came at a cost, though. Nolot knew Pulido was overpowered and would be forced into a wider, slower gybe at the last mark.
Nolot seized the advantage to gybe more tightly with her 11m
2 inside her rival and retake the lead. The Frenchwoman held the advantage on the final scorching reach to the finish line, when she again hit more than 33kts. It gave her the win and closed out the title.
“It’s really nice,” said Nolot. “Actually, it’s pretty good because at the start of the competition I had quite a few problems. At the close I was really glad I was on my 15m
2 [Ozone R1 V4]. I love my 15m 2. In the final it was perfect on my 11m 2 [R1 V4], really powered up, which was great. In those conditions I’m much better. I know I’m fast and can concentrate on making decisions.”
Vodišek had an equally difficult start to the regatta. But he, too, grew stronger as the event progressed and the breeze increased on the closing two days. He scored two wins from six on the penultimate day to put him straight into the final.
But in the final, on his white 11m
2 R1 V4, he crashed and was not able to get back on terms with the others. Still, as he began as second seed, it gave him the coveted continental European crown.
“I was really close to winning it three years ago, so finally getting it now feels pretty nice,” said Vodišek. “In the final, I’m sad because of the mistake. The first leg felt so good. I definitely had the speed and the angle, so I was pretty confident I could win if I hadn’t crashed. But I’m happy to get the title.
2 and 11m 2 Ozone R1 V4s I received this year and was keeping them for the Europeans and the [upcoming] Worlds. They’re new and straight from the packet. They’re rockets and definitely won me the event.”
words: Ian MacKinnon/Ozone