Croatian teenager Martin Dolenc cemented his position at the top of the leader board at the kite racing TwinTip European Championships in southern Italy with another strong performance.
But Dolenc, 17, leading the Open division after a long day on the blue Mediterranean waters in perfect breezes that climbed to around 17kts, found himself pushed ever harder as rivals dialled-in their skills in the new format.
When the thermal breeze kicked in early afternoon on day two of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) TT:R European Championships, it fuelled intense close-fought racing over a remarkable 49 short, sharp heats lasting just three minutes each.
The format of downwind slalom racing being pioneered in preparation for the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina next year fostered a thrilling spectacle and more than a fare share of tangles as riders misjudged their close-quarters mark roundings and collided with other competitors.
The introduction of obstacles—sausage-shaped buoys to be jumped—on the last two legs of the course later in the proceedings, further added to the drama, and tested riders more used to simply racing as fast as possible on the water’s surface.
Racers, including 68 boys and 28 girls eligible to compete in Buenos Aires, have shown their enthusiasm for the adrenalin-fuelled TwinTip racing by flocking to Gizzeria’s Hang Loose Beach for the five days of competition.
In all 112 racers from 21 countries—studded with a clutch of world champions and former world champions—have come to the classic Hang Loose Beach venue that is hosting a major kiting event for the sixth year in succession.
Slovenian Toni Vodisek wrested control of the boys’ division with a solid third spot after a second elimination round. That built on his overnight second position and gave him the overall lead, leapfrogging 16-year-old Tom Bridge (GBR), a former freestyle junior world champion.
But it was another junior freestyle champion, the Dominican Republic’s Deury Corniel, 17, who seized the win in day two’s elimination final, demonstrating his pace and power and going some way to right the wrongs of a disastrous opening day that put him well down the order.
“The first day was a bad one in my life,” he said. “But today was amazing. This racing is really tough. You feel like your feet are breaking, but you’re prepared to do things just because you want to win. You’re mind decides what you need to do to win.”
In the girls’ division Formula Kite Foil world champion Daniela Moroz (USA) found herself back in her customary top spot overall, but unusually she was again eased out of first place on the day by racing novice, Germany’s Alina Kornelli, who edged the day’s elimination round final in a photo-finish.
“We’re team Germany and we were chosen because we were born in 2000 or later and would qualify for the Youth Olympics,” said Kornelli, 17. “I’d never raced before and I came to see if I liked it. It’s really fun. It’s cool. And of course it’s my ambition to be in the Olympics.”
Dolenc may also choose to make a bid for Argentina. His pace has served him well keeping at bay Florian Gruber (GER), who sits second overall, and veteran TwinTip racer Atte Kappel (SWE) in third spot, who believed he was still feeling his way in the ultra-short format.
“In these races the start is so important,” he said. “That’s why we’re seeing quite a few OCS penalties for riders crossing the start line early. If you’re two seconds behind at the start you just can’t make it up, as you might in longer course racing”
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 2 ELIMINATION (BOYS AND GIRLS) / 4 ELIMINATIONS (ADULT OPEN)
1. Toni Vodisek (SLO) - 5 points
2. Tom Bridge (GBR) - 10 point
3. Anthony Picard (FRA) - 10 points
4 .Lorenzo Morelli (ITA) - 11 points
5. Cameron Maramenides (USA) - 14 points
1. Daniela Moroz (USA) - 5 points
2. Nina Font Castells (ESP) - 5 points
3. Claudia Leon Martinez (ESP) - 12 points
4. Isotta Di Domenico (ITA) - 14 points
5. Chiara Adobati (ITA) - 15 points
1. Martin Dolenc (CRO) - 3 points
2. Florian Gruber (GER) - 8 points
3 .Atte Kappel (SWE) - 10 points
4. Axel Mazella (FRA) - 11 points
5. Theo De Ramecourt (FRA) - 14 points
All heat results and overall rankings are available through the LIVE scoring at