France’s Axel Mazella secured his third KiteFoil World Series championship crown with a dominant display in testing conditions at the final event of the season on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria.
The 24-year-old Ozone team rider and tester romped to victory at the 2021 KiteFoil World Series Gran Canaria with a remarkable nine bullets from 11 races in two day’s of racing, when winds gusted to more than 25kts at the close, challenging the athletes to the limit.
On the final fourth day of the regatta—the middle two days of which were blown out by big winds and high seas that prevented racing—Mazella put on a clinical performance on his smallest 9m Ozone R1 V4 kite to seal the victory.
“Really good racing today, a lot to think about,” said Mazella, after taking the win and the title. “In the last race I got a piece of rope that was floating in the water and I couldn’t get it off. I tried jumping the foil a few times but in the end I had to reverse a bit and then got free of it. Nothing is ever easy in kitefoiling. But I’m very happy to win here and win this championship again.”
For the Frenchman the Gran Canaria victory gave him a trio of wins at the five-stop 2021 KiteFoil World Series. He topped the standings at Cagliari, Sardinia, and Traunsee in Austria, which ensured he bagged the title. His name will now be added to the KiteFoil World Series trophy, alongside inscriptions marking his 2017 and 2019 triumphs.
On paper the Gran Canaria win appeared easiest win as it was the most emphatic.But Mazella was pushed all the way by Britain’s Connor Bainbridge and the Russian Federation’s Denis Taradin, also riding Ozone R1 V4 kites.
In the opening day’s contests Bainbridge put down a marker claiming first blood with a bullet right out of the gate. But Mazella, riding his 11m Ozone R1 V4 in the gusty breezes and big swell, found another gear.
Mazella built his lead with four back-to-back bullets ahead of Bainbridge and Taradin. The Frenchman’s superior pace on the downwind legs of the two laps of the windward-leeward course gave him the edge. Mazella’s ability to maintain deeper downwind angles at pace courtesy of the R1 V4 kite was the telling factor.
The closing races on the last day, after the weather-enforced lay days, presented an even greater challenge for the 24 athletes from 14 countries battling for glory in Gran Canaria. But Mazella, on his black Ozone R1 V4, aced the test.
He took five bullets from the day’s six races, a third place the only blot on his perfect score. Once again it was Mazella’s pace on his 9m Ozone R1 V4 on the downwind legs that allowed him to get his nose in front of his rivals.
In the tough conditions, Britain’s Bainbridge claimed the regatta’s second podium step just ahead of Taradin in third. Their podium places mirrored their overall finishing positions in the 2021 World Series.
Bainbridge paid tribute to his rival, Mazella. “Axel [Mazella] remains the benchmark for all of us in those conditions. But it was a good thing for me on day one we were racing it out together and there wasn’t much in it. Axel pulls ahead on all the little details that add up over the course of the race.”
Clinching the KiteFoil World Series crown closes out a great year for Mazella, adding to his haul of honours that includes the Formula Kite European championship title and a second place at the Formula Kite Worlds in October.
With the countdown to kiteboarding’s Olympic debut at the Paris 2024 Games set to gather pace in 2022, Mazella is well-placed to continue his progress in his quest for gold.
2021 Kitefoil World Series Gran Canaria – Men (11 races, 3 discards)
1 FRA Axel Mazella 8pts
2 GBR Connor Bainbridge 18pts 3 RYF Denis Taradin 20pts
2021 Kitefoil World Series Gran Canaria – Women (11 races, 3 discards)
1 FRA Poema Newland 77pts
2 RYF Valeria Garashchenko 100pts 3 AUT Alina Kornelli 105pts
2021 Kitefoil World Series Overall – Men (5 Events)
1 FRA Axel Mazella 1893pts
2 GBR Connor Bainbridge 1854pts 3 RYF Denis Taradin 1852pts
2021 Kitefoil World Series Overall – Women (5 Events)
1 FRA Poema Newland 1558pts
2 FRA Lauriane Nolot 1430pts 3 RYF Valeria Garashchenko 1321pts
Words: Ian MacKinnon
Images: IKA Media / Sailing Energy.