Clash of the Titans, and an Omen

Breeze of 8 to 10 knots, later strengthening to 14 to 18 knots
A disastrous clash of kites for two big rivals
Four wins from five for Qibin Huang in the boys
A great day for Damasiewicz, four wins from five in the girls
Héloïse Pégourié retains leader’s yellow bib

Four wins out of five races from Saturday’s session will give Qibin Huang a lot of confidence going into Sunday’s Medal Series in the Formula Kite Youth European Championship. Torregrande breeze and Sardinian sunshine delivered picture-perfect conditions for high-speed foiling and Huang looked very comfortable across the wind range.

The only heat the Chinese rider didn’t win was in gold fleet race 5, when he got caught in a final-gybe tangle with local Italian favourite Riccardo Pianosi.

While the clash of kites saw the two front runners fail to finish that particular race, it made little difference in the end. Huang and Pianosi look a class apart and have comfortably booked their places in the four-rider final.

© IKA media / Robert Hajduk: Pianosi fought hard to keep up with his Chinese rival


“What a race today, winning four bullets out of five,” smiled Huang in slight disbelief at his runaway performance. “This is my first time wearing the gold jacket [yellow bib]. It's feels absolutely different to know that you are leading the whole pack.”

It took a long while for Huang and Pianosi to disentangle their kites. Fortunately for them, the breeze had picked up to the point where it was probably a good call to discard the soggy 23sq metre kites in favour of the smaller 15sq metre option for stronger winds. Huang was philosophical about the clash of kites. “I tangled with Pianosi just before the finish, we were having a very close fight. And I hope this is not going to happen again, but this is something you must experience to become a top-level rider. Overall, racing that close can be fun but it can also be a disaster.”
© IKA media / Robert Hajduk: Torregrande turned on the weather for the end of gold fleet racing


There’s a similar story of runaway dominance by the front two riders in the girls’ fleet. France’s Héloïse Pégourié has worn the yellow bib since day one, although Poland’s Julia Damasiewicz has got stronger in the past two days and carries the momentum of winning six of the last seven races in qualifying.

“I’m super happy,” grinned the Polish rider. “I’m really proud of myself with today’s performance. I claimed four bullets and I was about to take the fifth one, but I crashed my kite into the water. That was a stupid move and but apart from that, yeah, I'm really happy about today. It makes me really motivated for tomorrow and I think I can do it.”

While the French and Polish riders are confirmed for their four-rider final, it’s up to the other eight riders in the top 10 to see who will fight their way through from the semi-finals on Sunday. That’s the nature of the Medal Series, carefully designed to keep the competition open all the way to the final day, while also providing some reward to the most consistent performers across the whole regatta.

© IKA media / Robert Hajduk: Damasiewicz grins her way to another win

Exactly a year ago on these very same waters, Nina Arcisz broke out of sixth place on the final day, sailed out of her skin and won the youth world title. Where was the Polish rider ranked as the Polish rider stepped ashore on Torregrande beach? In sixth place, later rising to fifth after protests were complete. A good omen perhaps? 

© IKA media / Robert Hajduk: Pégourié wears the yellow bib into the final day