First ever winner-takes-all medal race series at Kite Tour Europe Sylt

Close Racing Action at KTE Sylt - Kite Tour Europe - Sylt
Kite Surf Tour Europe KTE
With almost 100 competitors taking part in three disciplines - freestyle, racing and slalom - the Kite Tour Europe (KTE) stop in Sylt, Germany saw all sort of conditions ranging from 6 to 22 knots and an exciting course racing final with the first ever medal race series successfully concluded.

About 40 racers from 12 countries took part in an opening series consistion of seven fleet races on a classical windward-leeward course. These races were held over two days in winds averaging 6-16 knots, and sailors were on their bigger kites, mainly 17, 15 and 13 meters.

The last day of competition then had a medal race series scheduled - a first timer in fleet racing, where the winner of the final race takes the event victory.

The participants of this medal race series are the top 10 from the fleet racing ranking. All points are deleted, and the sailors go into a final series of four races deciding the winner of the event.

The results from the opening series are thus used for seeding purposes:

Heat 1
Fleet Races Place 7
Fleet Races Place 8
Fleet Races Place 9
Fleet Races Place 10

The top two of heat 1 advance to heat 2:

Heat 2
Fleet Races Place 5
Fleet Races Place 6
Winner Heat 1
Second Heat 1

The top two of heat 2 advance to heat 3:

Heat 3
Fleet Races Place 3
Fleet Races Place 4
Winner Heat 2
Second Heat 2

The top two of heat 4 advance to the Final

Heat 4 (Final)
Fleet Races Place 1
Fleet Races Place 2
Winner Heat 3
Second Heat 3

All races of the medal race series were held on the newly introduced 'short track course' - a course very similar to the americas cup racing format, with a reaching start and a windward/leeward double gate course. The sailors are approaching the start line at full speed - 20-25 knots - to accelerate even more when going through the top gate for the first downwind leg.

Almost all heats saw the favourites advancing, with a few position changes and very close racing in all of the heats.

The final then went down with the top 2 seeds, plus the former third ranked and former fifth ranked sailor:

FINAL heat:
Florian Gruber (1st after fleet races)
Rolf van der Vlugt (2nd after fleet races)
Maxime Nocher (3rd after fleet races)
Blazej Ozog ((5th after fleet races)

All sailors except Florian Gruber were on their smallest registered kites - 10 meter - in wind averaging 22 knots. Gruber only registered big kites for this event (17, 15, 13) and looked quite powered when coming up to the committee boat.
The start went off, and Gruber took a too high line, passing the top gate in fourth position. The following two upwind legs saw quite some position changes with van der Vlugt leading the pack all the time, but Nocher and Ozog swapping places on almost every mark.
The final beat to windward saw Gruber overtaking Nocher and Ozog which were concentrating on the race between the two of them, with Gruber in the end taking second after van der Vlugt and Ozog taking advantage of a capsize by Nocher shortly before the last gate, taking third.

1. Rolf van der Vlugt (NED)
2. Florian Gruber (GER)
3. Blazej Ozog (POL)
4. Maxime Nocher (FRA)

Around 10000 spectators followed the racing action during the last day of competition at Sylt island, and the general feedback for this new format of medal races by spectators, media and organizers were overwhelming. Drama was build during the medal race series, with quite a few position changes, and a heartbeat final for the overal event victory in an easy to understand and to follow racing format.

With a finish time of around six minutes per medal race series heat all the races are short, high speed and thrilling and provide the purest form of high performance sailing plus perfect spectator entertainment.

Medal Race Series Elimination Format - Winner takes all - Kite Tour Europe - Sylt
Markus Schwendtner

Medal Race Course Format - Kite Tour Europe - Sylt
Markus Schwendtner

Fleet Racing Course Format - Kite Tour Europe - Sylt
Markus Schwendtner

International Kiteboarding Association: IKA
Kitesurf Tour Europe: KTA