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2022 Lepanto Formula Kite European Championships in Greece - Day 5

by Andy Rice / IKA 1 Oct 23:52 PDT 26 September - 2 October 2022
Fleet racing - 2022 Lepanto Formula Kite European Championships © Robert Hajduk / IKA media

Day 5 of the 2022 Lepanto Formula Kite European Championships in Nafpaktos, Greece saw plenty of place changing in the men's and women's fleets. Lauriane Nolot (FRA) took the women's yellow bib away from Jessie Kampman (FRA) who slips to second overall. Both these French riders have booked their place in the four-rider final on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile in the men's gold fleet, Max Maeder (SGP) extended his lead with three race wins from four in the morning session. Even an enforced retirement from the last gold fleet race of the afternoon barely made a dent in the Singaporean's grip on the yellow bib. Behind the 16-year-old from Asia, a fierce battle played out for the other top spots. A late charge from Benoit Gomez (FRA) saw the big Frenchman rise to fourth overall and only a few points away from the two riders ahead of him.

Riccardo Pianosi (ITA) very nearly snatched second place away from Toni Vodisek (SLO) when the two rivals finished second and fifth respectively in the final gold fleet race. Finishing on equal points, Vodisek won the tiebreak thanks to his superior score of three race wins compared with the single race win by Pianosi. The importance of winning the tiebreak is that Vodisek has booked his place in the four-rider men's final alongside Maeder. Whereas Pianosi will have to fight his way through from his four-rider semi-final to get a shot at the medals.

Just Missing the Cut

At the other end of the men's top 10, Max Zakowski (POL) edged out Jannis Maus (GER) by a point, leaving the German in 11th place overall from the men's entry of 90. In the women it was Maggie Eillen Pescetto (ITA) who missed the medal series cut by three points.

The medal series format leaves the door open for any of the top 10 to win the European title. Previous events have seen riders rise from 6th place or lower to win major titles. However, by leading the qualifying and gold fleet series, Maeder and Nolot have given themselves the best chance of securing the European titles on Sunday. "Just one more race," smiled Nolot with a hopeful grin. "If I can close it out in one race then that's what I'll do, and it looks like it's going to be windy. This has been a 21sqm championship so far this week, but tomorrow I hope to use the 11sqm kite."

Maeder was also encouraged by the stronger forecast. "In strong winds the margin for error in some ways gets bigger, in some ways smaller," said the analytical rider, who is looking to defend his European title from last year. "I have done less training in lighter winds compared with a lot of riders on the tour, whereas I feel a bit more secure with my skills and experience in the stronger wind."

"One of the Biggest Crashes"

With that said, nothing is a given in high-speed kitefoiling. Lying second in the first race of the day with just a few metres to the finish, Gal Zukerman (ISR) suffered a spectacular wipeout which dropped her back to 14th place as the Israeli struggled to recover. "It was one of the biggest crashes of my life," she said, smiling despite the pain she had caused to her back. "The crash ripped off my helmet and it hurt quite a bit, but I had a massage when we came ashore and I feel good again now."

Zukerman had been leading the final race before being overtaken by Nolot on the second upwind leg. "Lauriane is fast! She has really good speed and she is hard to beat, but I'm happy with how I sailed today." Gisela Pulido (ESP) and Izabela Satrjan (POL) also looked very comfortable in the stronger wind. The Spanish and Polish riders both raced very consistently to pull themselves up to fourth and fifth overall respectively. Perhaps the strong breeze will make them serious contenders for the podium on Sunday.

Sunday Showdown

Livestreaming of the Medal Series starts at 1445 hrs local Greek time on Facebook and YouTube.

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