Poland’s Magda Woyciechowska landed her first international title when she sealed victory in the 2019 Formula Kite Asian Championships “open” division with a steely performance in fickle breezes in China.
The 14-year-old was able to see off a strong challenge from her training partner and fellow countrywoman, Julia Damasiewicz, also 14, over four intense days of competition and 16 hard-fought races off Guangxi province’s Beihai city.
Both finished ahead of China’s Jingle Chen who racked up a formidable haul of bullets and looked as if she could storm to victory at one point. But she stumbled in the light airs, failing to finish some races. It proved costly and she ended fourth, though it was enough to secure the Formula Kite Asian crown.
By contrast Russian veteran racer Denis Taradin barely put a foot wrong. He seized a remarkable 12 bullets that gave a commanding points lead by the finish that landed him the 2019 International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) Formula Kite Asians “open” title.
Italy’s Mario Calbucci pushed Taradin and pounced on any error by the Russian, snatching three bullets to add to his haul of high-placed finishes that saw him cruise to the podium’s second spot.
Ejder Ginyol (TUR) traded blows with Calbucci in an enthralling battle on the water in breezes that varied between 6kts and 10kts. Ginyol’s gritty performance earned him the third podium spot.
The regatta’s youngest racer, Max Maeder (SNG), 12, found a turn of pace and tactical assurance to challenge and occasionally beat the leading trio, finishing sixth overall and securing the Formula Kite Asian crown.
But on the final day of the scheduled six, unsettled tropical conditions over the track off Beihai city beach meant the wind failed to build, preventing any racing.
By then, however, with 16 races each for the men and women on the rhomboid windward-leeward course, the victors had done enough to prove worthy winners in the sometimes marginal conditions.
Still, on the regatta’s second and fourth days race officials managed to get six races away each for the men and women. The ideal foiling conditions of 8kts to 10kts for the competitors’ 19m and 21m kites sparked breathtakingly quick action.
For women’s champion Woyciechowska, who revels in the lighter airs, the conditions were perfect. She was a model of consistency, racking up four bullets and a raft of seconds with few of the costly errors that undid her rivals.
“I’m really, really happy,” said a delighted Woyciechowska. “But it hasn’t really sunk in yet. This is the first international competition where I’ve won. I had many second places and Jingle Chen was good, but unlucky when her kite went down. It’s so important to be consistent.”
Chen was slightly subdued despite lifting the Asian championship title, realising that her Achilles heal had been the lighter airs. In slightly stronger breezes she had looked unbeatable.
“I’m a little bit disappointed,” said Chen. “But now I know I have to do a lot of practice in the lighter winds. I got eight bullets, but also many poor scores when I didn’t finish the races.”
Taradin used his experience to the full grinding out wins in all conditions but acknowledged that his ability to make the most of the lighter breezes gave him the edge.
“It was a great regatta,” said Taradin. “I can’t remember the last time we had 16 races, so it was nice. It was good racing. I felt for me it was extreme because of the light wind. But with my experience, I could make it work even in 5kts or 6kts when it was difficult for the others. I’m pleased with the result.”
2019 IKA Formula Kite Asian Championships
1 Denis Taradin (RUS) 14pts
2 Mario Calbucci (ITA) 30pts
3 Ejder Ginyol (TUR) 39pts
1 Magdalena Woyciechowska (POL) 22pts
2 Julia Damasiewicz (POL) 32pts
3 Natalie Flintrop-Clarke (AUS) 41pts
1 Max Maeder (SNG) 57pts
2 Qibin Huang (CHN) 86pts
3 Zhang Hao Ran (CHN) 95pts
1 Jingle Chen (CHN) 44pts
2 Benyapa Jantawan (THA) 55pts
To view the full results, please click here.