Edge-of-Seat victories for Italy and France

Breeze of 7 to 10 knots
Pégourié prevails in nailbiting three-way battle for girls’ title
Pianosi overtakes Huang to take gold in the boys’ fleet
Héloïse Pégourié overcame the odds to win a last-gasp gold in Torregrande. The French rider becomes the Formula Kite Youth European Champion alongside Italy’s Riccardo Pianosi who won the boys’ title in the under-21 fleet.

Pégourié had worn the yellow bib all week, which meant she had an automatic place in the four-rider girls’ final and would only need to win one race on the last day. By her own admission, however, she made quite a few mistakes in the early races, including a UFD disqualification for breaking the start line marginally too soon in the previous race. She crossed the finish line in first but received no result.

The French errors left the door open for two Polish rivals to take the title away from her. Julia Damasiewicz won a race in the finals, and Magda Woyciechowska who had earned her place after winning her semi-final earlier in the afternoon, won two.

© IKA media / Robert Hajduk: The top 10 girls celebrate their week in Torregrande


This set up the next race for a thrilling scenario where, apart from the fourth athlete Chloe Revil from France who had yet to score, any one of the three competitors would win depending on who crossed the line first.

Early on, the Polish teammates were making all the running and it simply looked like a matter of which Pole would take gold in their match race. But somehow Pégourié fought her way back into contention on the final downwind leg, finding an extra click of pace as the fleet flew full-throttle at faster than 30 knots in the 10 knot breeze.

Pégourié executed the final two pressure gybes to perfection, not daring to look back as the two Poles wiped out on the final gybe of the course. The French rider crossed the finish in first, although it took a few moments before Pégourié allowed herself to believe she had actually won. “After the disqualification [in the earlier race] I didn’t think it was real,” she said. “Even now I can’t believe it. I haven’t won a big regatta like this before. It’s a dream to win here.”
© IKA media / Robert Hajduk: Riccardo Pianosi celebrates a job well done


Her mother was there to celebrate the win on the beach. Her father was watching the livestream on the internet from France. “I was telling myself I had to do it for him, he has been such a big supporter. And I made a bet with my mum and dad that if I won here then they would get me another dog. I don’t think they really agreed with the bet, but I did win,” she laughed, adding that she would like a big dog for her reward.

After coming so close to victory, Julia Damasiewicz and Magda Woyciechowska had to console themselves with silver and bronze medals respectively. Still a great achievement for the Polish riders.

© IKA media / Robert Hajduk: Pianosi enjoys a warm welcome back on shore

In the boys’ fleet, Qibin Huang had dominated racing all week, but the Chinese rider couldn’t quite bring his A game for the switch to the four-rider finals format. Even when the port tack approach - so rare in normal fleet racing - was proving to be successful for others, Huang persisted with starboard tack starts that put him behind at the first cross at the top of the race course.

Riccardo Pianosi adapted his approach and chose the port tack starting option. The Italian looked more assured with his sense of purpose and decision making. Having qualified for the final from his second place in qualifying, Pianosi needed to win two races in the final. It wasn’t easy, but he’d got there. “I wasn’t sure if I could beat Qibin today,” admitted Pianosi. “He has sailed really well this week but I just went out to do my best and it was good enough.” Huang took silver and bronze went to Vojtech Koska from the Czech Republic.

Not much time for celebration though, according to Pianosi. “I might have a meal tonight with my girlfriend, but not too late as I have an early flight to the Netherlands.” Pianosi is going straight back to senior competition, competing at the Allianz Regatta along with the rest of the Olympic fleet as they work towards Paris 2024 in just over a year’s time.