Multiple pile-up in women's fleet
© Gisela Pulido: headcam view from Gisela Pulido as the Spanish rider avoided the big pile-up

Multiple pile-up in women's fleet

Four light to medium races for the start of gold fleet competition
Big pile-up for the women after world champion falls
Elena Lengwiler cruises to two race wins in the afternoon
Pianosi climbs to second in the men

Perhaps one of the reasons why reigning World Champions Max Maeder and Lauriane Nolot manage to win so many races is because they have enough speed to stay out of trouble. However on day four of the Formula Kite World Championship in Hyères, it was Nolot’s crash near the windward mark of the final race of the afternoon that resulted in a multi-rider pile-up. It was the first day of gold fleet competition after three days of qualifying, so maybe it’s inevitable that the margins for error reduce as the best in the world all converge on the same place on the race course.

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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Jessie Kampman (red bib) fighting out of the start against Nolot (yellow)
When Nolot splashed down, the chasing pack were so closely locked together that there was no room to avoid a pile-up. Jessie Kampman was just far enough back to steer round the melée at the mark. “That was a huge tangle on the last race at the windward mark,” said the French rider. “I think Lauriane fell very close to the mark and on the layline, which made it impossible people for other people to avoid her.


“A lot of people got tangled next to the mark, like probably between 10 and 15 people. I was coming in on the port layline and I decided the best thing was to get clear from the mess and just go behind them and all the way around on the outside. I think some of the others on port tried to squeeze through and ended up getting caught up in it all.”
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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Gisela Pulido putting max effort into working the board around the mark
Even by the time Kampman was coming back up to the mark for a second time she saw some riders still swimming, their kites now drenched and floating helplessly on the surface of the Mediterranean. Kampman’s decision to give the melée a wide berth paid off as she crossed the finish line in second and rounded off a solid afternoon with four results in the top four.

Among the high profile casualties from the pile-up were Britain’s Ellie Aldridge and Daniela Moroz of the USA. “I was right in the middle of it,” smiled Moroz ruefully. “I was the sandwich. Lauriane went down and every else had to avoid or... I don’t even know. I was right behind Elena [Lengwiler from Switzerland] and I didn’t even notice who else was to windward of me. There were kites everywhere and there was nowhere to go. I just swam and saw I had some damage so I’ll be trying to get redress [in the protest room] from that one.”
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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Lauriane Nolot (right) still leading overall in the women

Lengwiler just managed to get ahead of the mess and raced to her second win of the afternoon, two bullets from four attempts. This lifts the Swiss rider up to fifth overall as she takes advantage of her clear speed advantage in the flat water. Less experienced than a lot of the front runners, Lengwiler is not yet the all-round package, but in some conditions she looks to be the most rapid in a straight line.

Even Nolot managed to extricate herself from the windward mark mess to record a fifth across the line, although the defending World Champion has the luxury of being able to discard that score and maintains the overall lead with a buffer of six points ahead of Aldridge and Kampman, who are tied on points for second and third overall.
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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Riccardo Pianosi fights his way up to second overall in the men

Italy’s Riccardo Pianosi made the best possible start to gold fleet competition, the young Italian winning the first of four races. Singapore’s Max Maeder was runner-up in the first but followed up with three straight wins to extend his lead at the top of the board. Pianosi’s day continued well with two second places and an eighth which are good enough to lift the Italian into silver medal position with two days to go.

Having won race after race in qualifying, things didn’t go so well in gold fleet today for Axel Mazella who slips to third after scores of 15,5,5,4. “The start of the day was not at all good,” said France’s Olympic representative for this summer’s Games. “I didn't make the the right choices. I went left when the breeze was going right, and I went right when we had to go left.”

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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Young Swiss rider Gian Stragiotti led the first race and finished third

Although lacking the weight of some of the other riders in the men’s fleet, it’s the lighter conditions were Mazella seems to struggle more. “The 23 [square metre kite] is so big in the air, it is taking up so much space and it's hard to overtake someone to make the difference by speed because everyone is going at the same speed, same angle compared to 15 or 11 where it's easier to create a different of speed and overtake someone to windward or leeward.”

The forecast for stronger winds on Saturday is music to Mazella’s ears. “I hope that’s what we get. I will look to make my own path away from the others and just sail as fast as possible without people around me.”

Friday’s forecast hints at slightly stronger breeze for the second day of gold fleet competition. Saturday and Sunday will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook, and all the gold fleet races can be followed with GPS tracking.



Maximilian Maeder


13.0 pts


Riccardo Pianosi


22.0 pts


Axel Mazella


26.0 pts




Lauriane Nolot


18.0 pts


Ellie Aldridge


24.0 pts


Jessie Kampman


24.0 pts

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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Alina Kornelli (left) reviews headcam footage of the pile-up before the protest