Final – Rockingham, Australia Day 2
27 November, 2016
Rockingham, Western Australia
Day 2 Race Report—Hydrofoil Pro Tour, Final, Rockingham, WA
Conditions Deliver to Provide Some of the Best Racing of the Tour
Whatever the breeze may have lacked for the opening clashes of the Hydrofoil Pro Tour’s finale, it more than made up for it on the second day, which delivered unbeatable conditions and intense battles among the world’s fastest kite racers.The early southerly wind blowing over the course off Rockingham Foreshore, Western Australia, quickly built from 16kts, eventually gusting to 23kts, forcing the 56-strong fleet to go for smaller and smaller kites as the day progressed. Many riders over powered during the early races whilst trying to play catch-up with the right size.
But with the breeze blowing over the low peninsula into the bay, a perfect arena for kite racing, the turquoise waters remained essentially flat, producing scintillatingly-fast foiling for the Pro Tour’s final stop presented by Rockingham Apartments.
Yet if the conditions changed, the top of the leaderboard remained unaltered. France’s Nico Parlier did not put a foot wrong and scored five wins in the day’s five races. His feat was equalled by the US’s Daniela Moroz, 15, who cemented her place at the top of the women’s ladder.
Both riders began the four-day event, hosted by The Cruising Yacht Club of WA, top-ranked in the men’s and women’s divisions thanks to unrivalled performances at the Pro Tour’s earlier stops in La Ventana, Mexico, San Francisco, and Pointe d’Esny, Mauritius.
For Moroz, though, the day was not all plain sailing. During one of the day’s first races she hit the foil of Spain’s Alejandro Climent Hernandez. It was a collision that left her hobbling, but ultimately appeared to do little to slow her pace.
Several other riders were less fortunate, ending the day needing first aid treatment, as they pushed their own skills and limits; a reminder that racing at more than 30kts is not without risk. New Zealand rider Richard Bates suffered a hand injury as he grasped a water bottle from a support boat, while Britain’s Guy Bridge needed stitches to a hand he cut on his foil.
As a result the 17-year-old was unable to complete the day’s last race. But until then he had shown his growing pace and tactical awareness to notch up two third spots, each time just behind brother Olly Bridge, two years his senior, who took away five second placings from the day to leave him second overall.
Another teenager showing greater speed and consistency at every stop is Croatia’s Martin Dolenc. The 16-year-old finished day two of the event — supported by the City of Rockingham — in a sixth spot after a raft finishes high up the order.
Like many, though, he had struggled to match kite size to the conditions. “I started with the 15m, but that was a bad choice,” he said. “I went to the 11m and that was better. The wind’s very gusty and very strong. I’ve been staying in to the shore on the left side of the course to get the lift there. But it’s very challenging.”
Germany’s Marvin Baumeister Schoenian, one of the Pro Tour’s co-founders, was revelling in the conditions, yet felt he was still trying to get the Rockingham course dialled.
“I’m having a lot of crashes,” he said. “Really, I’m still trying to get used to the place. It’s pretty challenging. There are some really punchy gusts, and on the port tack you have to be careful with the waves that can throw you off pretty easily. It looks flat, but it’s tough.”
It was similarly tough for the women, able only to watch Moroz disappear into the distance. But the racing between Britain’s Steph Bridge, Russia’s Elena Kalinina, and Alexia Fancelli, of France, was extremely tight and they finished bunched on leaderboard.
Multiple-world champion Bridge, mother to Guy and Olly, came out on top just ahead of Fancelli, as both bested Kalinina, who had an unusual off day and appeared unable to find her groove.
Fancelli was delighted with her performance and the tight racing with her two rivals, though she accepts that Moroz is in a class of her own at the moment.
“Daniela Moroz is just really, really fast,” she said. “But I think the other girls were fast today too. For me, I was pushing a lot. This is such a great place to race. But the conditions were difficult some. It was strong and really gusty. But it’s the same for everyone.”
More Images available @ Facebook Photos Day 2
Race drone by Levitaz https://levitaz.com/
Overall standings after seven races (one discard):
1 Nico Parlier (FRA) — 6pts
2 Oliver Bridge (GBR) — 12pts
3 Ricci Leccese (ITA) — 20pts
4 Florian Trittel (ESP) — 28pts
5 Florian Gruber (GER) — 35pts
1 Daniela Moroz (USA) — 101pts
2 Steph Bridge (GBR) — 166pts
3 Alexia Fancelli (FRA) — 167pts
4 Elena Kalinina (RUS) — 170pts
5 Gina Hewson (AUS) — 210pts