French riders Lauriane Nolot and Axel Mazella—powered by Ozone R1 V4 kites—clinched silver and bronze medals in the drama-packed finale of the Formula Kite World Championships on the Italian island of Sardinia.
Britons Ellie Aldridge and Katie Dabson, both also riding 11m
2 R1 V4 kites, joined Nolot to make up three of four in the finals shoutout on Ozone. They found themselves up against reigning, five times world champion Daniela Moroz, who retained her crown, with Nolot taking the second podium step and Aldridge the third.
But Nolot, the Formula Kite European champion, came tantalisingly close to snatching the world title with a brilliant start on her all-blue 11m
2 R1 V4. In breezes that hit 15kts to 20kts, Nolot held the lead all the way up the first leg of the two-lap course, yet crashed and saw Moroz pass just before the first windward mark.
While the Frenchwoman recovered quickly, she was unable hunt down Moroz on her 15m
2 kite, allowing the American to take the title at the end of the six-day regatta. It was fought out in a huge range of conditions off Cagliari’s Poetto Beach.
Nolot was initially down about conceding the race and the coveted crown because of her mistake, crashing in a wave in seas that built with the wind. But shortly after she was able to process the loss, take away the positives and use it as motivation for next year.
“I was really disappointed when I finished the race,” said Nolot. “It’s hard when you crash and the race goes away from you. But now I’m feeling better and it’s going to be my motivation. Last year I was third, this year second, next year I’ll go for first. It’s great motivation.”
Pressed by Moroz, Nolot realised she had been focusing too much on the layline and rounding the upcoming mark. It was costly because she failed to watch the increasingly-big waves, one of which momentarily took her down.
“What’s disappointing is that I think I definitely had the speed on the 11m
2 [R1 V4],” said Nolot. “I chose it over the 15m 2. Downwind it’s amazing, but upwind it can be slower in strong winds. It was also way too windy for a 15m 2 at the final two gybe marks, which were very close. The 11m 2 can definitely match Moroz’s 15m 2 in the right conditions.”
In the men’s competition, Ozone team rider Axel Mazella had more work to do. He finished third in the qualifying Finals Series of races giving him a berth in the semi-final. He won that convincingly on his gold-coloured 15m
2 R1 V4 to advance to the final.
However, a poor start in the final left him trailing behind fellow countryman Théo de Ramecourt who, unknown to both, had been disqualified for crossing the startline early. Ahead of both, Slovenia’s Toni Vodišek and Singapore’s Max Maeder battled for supremacy. Despite both crashing, the Slovenian recovered to take the win and the title.
While Mazella could manage only fourth place, De Ramecourt’s disqualification gave him the third podium spot. He was thrilled by his performance over the week of the regatta.
“I’m super-happy,” said Mazella. “I had to do a job in the semi-final to keep my position and advance to the final. But the final was crazy, with Toni and Max crashing. My ‘plan A’ was just to keep close them. But when I saw how fast upwind they were, I just focused on keeping my third position.’’
words: Ian MacKinnon/Ozone