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2023 KiteFoil World Series Austria: Day 2 - Gruber rediscovers the Flo State

by Andy Rice 6 Oct 2023 13:03 PDT 5-8 October 2023
2023 KiteFoil World Series Austria - Flo Gruber got his groove on © IKA media / Robert Hajduk

"If you want the win, you need to grab the pin," said Denis Taradin, with just the hint of a grin. The Cypriot sailor prevailed with a vital victory in the last of six short, sharp races on day two of KiteFoil World Series Austria.

He was being pushed hard all the way by Max Maeder from Singapore until the 17-year-old crashed on the final slalom gybe turn. "I heard the crash, looked back and saw the splash as Max hit the water," said Taradin who is excited about the two days of racing yet to come on the picturesque lake near Salzburg.

"Just 1 point separating the top four riders," Taradin observed. "Everything is up for grabs and it's hard to say if I can win because we are all so close in these flat-water conditions." For Taradin, winning the left-hand of the start line - the pin end - was the key to success across the finish line. Which is why all the frontrunners were beginning to congregate at the same spot on the busy start line.

The race wins went four different ways, with first blood going to Flo Gruber from Germany, another win for yellow bib wearer Martin Dolenc from Croatia, two wins for Maeder and the last two wins of the day going to Taradin. Despite his last-gasp crash in the final race, Maeder leads the overall standings although on equal points with Gruber who moved up to second place after a phenomenally consistent day. "Today I tried to do my thing, not focus on the others," said Gruber.

"The racing was so tight, it was hard not to do any mistakes. But I really enjoyed it. The last three events have been not that good for me, I struggled to do well on the scoreboard, so now I'm happy to have some good race days. Here I wanted to show up and have a good time, and my family is here today.

"My girlfriend really supports me, she knows how to handle the kites and prepare the equipment, so I'm already super lucky and very happy. I'm turning 30 this year, it's not so easy anymore but it's great to race against the young riders like Max. It's nice to see them growing up and doing well. But I'm keen for the fight and we'll see how it goes for the rest of the days here."

Lauriane Nolot enjoyed racing off the same start line as the men and the French rider had a very successful day on the water, despite a tangle with two other riders at the pin end of the start line. "I was a minute late starting in that race after one of the riders hit the mark and got caught up with us, but it was a really fun day on the water," said the reigning women's World Champion who has now closed to within two points of the top female rider on the scoreboard, Australia's Breiana Whitehead.

Like the leading men, Whitehead was favouring the left-hand of the start line. "I was choosing the pin end most of the time but I wanted to try a few different things so it was a good day to test other options," said Whitehead who is enjoying the battle with Nolot. "She's really fast and it's nice to be competing against her in these conditions."

Another big name from the kitefoiling world here in Traunsee is Theo de Ramecourt, the 2021 World Champion from France who is sitting out this competition but using Traunsee as a testing ground for a new design of kite from Flysurfer. Flo Gruber is another Flysurfer rider who's using the Kitefoil World Series Austria to test the latest designs.

They're not legal for Formula Kite competition, although that's the point of the Kitefoil World Series, not just to provide great racing but to give the fleet an opportunity to test new equipment before the next four-year Olympic cycle leading up to Los Angeles 2028. It's all part of the ever-evolving sport of kitefoil racing.

Racing is scheduled to continue at midday on Saturday, and the racing will be livestreamed online for fans to watch the action from all around the world.

Results Men

1. Maximilian Maeder - SGP - 16.0
2. Flo Gruber - GER - 16.0
3. Martin Dolenc - CRO - 17.0

Results Women

1. Breiana Whitehead - AUS - 68.0
2. Lauriane Nolot - FRA - 70.0
3. Alina Kornelli - AUT - 95.0

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