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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Breiana Whitehead records breakthrough race win at Kite Euros

by Anna Zykova / Australian Sailing Team 28 Sep 21:37 PDT 25 September - 2 October 2022
Breiana Whitehead during the 2022 Lepanto Formula Kite European Championships in Nafpaktos, Greece © IKA Media / Robert Hajduk

Queensland athlete Breiana Whitehead has fought through stormy skies to record a breakthrough race win at the 2022 Lepanto Formula Kite European Championships in Nafpaktos, Greece.

After the first day was wiped out due to a severe weather warning, it was a dramatic-looking Lefpaktos Bay that welcomed the athletes for racing this morning. The 139 female riders got out first and started the day in light-wind conditions from south-westerly direction.

Shortly after the start the breeze started to play tricks going up and down with some shifts, and after yesterday's storm the water surface was covered with patches of weed. Competitors felt a lot of "ventilation" on the surface due to the mix of fresh and salt water from the rain, which usually causes the foil to lose its lift and the board tends to crash. It was a lot of hard work to keep up the speed and perform all turns without mistakes.

Australian Sailing Squad athlete Breiana Whitehead showed good speed throughout the four races, and she provided the highlight of the day in winning today's second race. The racecourse setup was for upwind-downwind races, so consistency and speed with attention to wind shifts were key. Jane Taylor has finished the day in 26th place with her best result in Race 9 in 9th place.

Whitehead was content about her day: "I wasn't sure I won [that race] until after I crossed the finish line, I was so focused on making it to the end with no mistakes. I managed to stay out of trouble at crowded roundings and despite sailing a bit on the edge, I was still in control in all races. I caught a bit of seaweed couple of times but maintained a good speed and rounded all the marks well. I'm ready for more racing tomorrow."

Conditions continued to shift throughout the day, with a looming cloud entering the racecourse just after the women's fleet finished. The female riders felt the wind picking up on their last downwind, then just as the men hit the racetrack a rain squall hit the bay at 20 knots followed by a massive wind shift.

Hector Paturau (Australian Sailing Futures) and Scott Whitehead (Australian Sailing Squad) both sailed in the Blue fleet, which had their first race abandoned on account of the strong shift. All riders had chosen bigger kites for racing today which are preferable in lighter winds, so when the gusts hit it caused carnage with tangles as racers wrestled with their equipment.

After the racecourse was set up again the wind continued to bounce between 9 and 20 knots, but it still proved to be challenging for the athletes to get their heads around the challenging conditions.

Race two was much more competitive for Scott and Hector with both riders finishing in the top ten. Riders enjoyed couple of fast downwinds thanks to the course change, that included an extra lap.

"Managing the kite that was a bit too big was challenging, it was really fast and pretty much going on the edge," said Paturau. "I'm pretty happy to have had a clean race with no equipment damage or an injury."

After that, a strong breeze came in causing more chaos on the racecourse. It became difficult for the riders to come in and change kites, so the Race Committee decided to abandon further racing.

Hector was happy with his first day. "The main challenge was to choose the right kite today. Me and Scott both used 15m kites and I managed to sail on it [both races], even though it was a bit light for the first race and a bit too strong for the second one. Really keen to push more tomorrow and get closer to the line at the start."

Alex Landwehr (Australian Sailing Futures) was racing in the Red fleet along with Australian rider Daniel Self. Landwehr finished Race one in 4th place, but strong gusts caused damage to his brand new kite which didn't allow him to compete in race two.

"After that huge cumulonimbus cloud went past, the wind became quite shifty, which opened up a lot of opportunities on the racecourse'" said Alex. "I got held all the way to the port lay line on the first beat which didn't pay off in the shifty conditions, but I made a good comeback on the second lap. Unfortunately, I had damaged my 15m Flysurfer in the practice race, but fellow Aussie Dan Self lent me his brand new 15m Gin for the event. It had exceptional performance until the wind picked up a little too much and it did a complete front stall putting the kite in the water in a total mess."

After some repairs he is looking forward to more close racing tomorrow and hopes that the conditions will be gentler on the kites.

For tomorrow no change in schedule is planned with qualifying series in different fleet allocations set to continue. The day will open with the first possible warning signal for the male fleet at 12H00, with the female sleet staying ashore until at least 14H00.

Australian Sailing Squad (ASS), Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) and other Australian (AUS) Results after Day 2:

21st - Scott Whitehead (ASS) - 13, 6 (19 points)
23rd - Hector Paturau (ASF) - 15, 10 (25 points)
47th - Alex Landwehr (ASF) - 4, 31 DNC (35 points)
65th - Daniel Self (AUS) - 18, 24 (42 points)

Women (with 1 discard)
5th - Breiana Whitehead (ASS) - 4, 1, (7), 3 (8 points)
25th - Jane Taylor (AUS) - (15), 12, 9, 11 (32 points)

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