African Course Racing Championships 2013. The third day of competition was stunning but challenging conditions delivered an impressive kiting spectacle at Soma Bay in Egypt. With winds gusting up to 32 knots, four races were held for each of the men’s and women’s fleets, with the reigning World Champions Johnny Heineken and sister Erika Heineken relishing the conditions to launch their attack on the leader board.
Today marked the first day of final series races for the men, who were split into gold and silver fleets. In the first race for the men, it was Joey Pasquali and Tomek Janiak that stepped off the line with a bold move – starting on port and crossing the rest of the fleet – which rewarded them both with top 10 finishes.
But it was the reigning Course Racing World Champion, American Jonny Heineken who brought all his experience into play and left the fleet behind him. He was first at the leeward gate, followed by Riccardo Leccese, who at this point was still the series leader. Heineken kept his lead all the way to the finish line and celebrated victory and the start of his push up the leaderboard. Leccese did not seem so happy with his performance – but he was simply out raced.
Onto the second race of the day, and again Heineken led the fleet to the bottom gate, but this time chased by Brazilian Wilson Veloso and Leccese in third. But, Leccese dug deep and passed the Brazilian to score another second place finish, leaving Veloso to cross the line in third. A repeated performance for the next two races of the finals, with Heineken continuing to claim the race wins, sees him topping the leaderboard, with Leccese in second and yesterday’s overall runner up Florian Gruber, knocked down into third
In the women’s fleet, the day was set to belong to Erika Heineken, who dominated by scoring one bullet after another and closing in on the series leader Steph Bridge. After a stunning performance in yesterday’s lighter breeze, the young Russian Elena Kalinina could not compete against the likes of Heinken and Bridge and was left further back in the leaderboard, as she struggled to master the windier conditions.
Erika was in her element, as the conditions are clearly her favourite, successfully ending her day sitting only a few points behind Bridge, with Kalinina holding onto third. Tomorrow is the last day of the final series, after which the top ten of the men and women fleets will advance to the medal series scheduled for Friday. With just a few points separating the top kiters, racing is expected to become even more exciting as many fight for a place in the top ten. The wind conditions are expected to slightly decrease tomorrow, so the tables may turn as the lighter wind specialists have an opportunity to return to form.
Top-3 for the 2013 African Course Racing Championship
Men 1. Johnny Heineken (USA) 2. Riccardo Andrea Leccese (ITA) 3. Florian Gruber (GER)
Women 1. Steph Bridge (GBR) 2. Erika Heineken (USA) 3. Elena Kalinina (RUS)