© Robert Hajduk/ IKA Media: The women's podium
First world title for Vodisek, No.6 for Moroz
Strong onshore breeze of 12 knots building to 20 knots, blue skies and blue water at Poetto Beach
Toni Vodisek (SLO) wins his first world title
Daniela Moroz (USA) wins her sixth world title
Silver and bronze medals go to France, Singapore and Great Britain
Poetto Beach saved its best for last, with strong onshore winds and challenging waves to decide the climax of the 2022 Formula Kite World Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia. The past six days have produced all kinds of conditions and have made the battle for the men's and women's world titles a true test of all-round ability.
Daniela Moroz (USA) made it look easy as she foiled to victory in the one and only race in the women's final. Toni Vodisek (SLO) crashed out of his first finals race, with Max Maeder (SGP) pulling all square for race two. This time Maeder crashed and Vodisek seized his chance, winning the world title with a 10-metre big-air celebration moments after he crossed the finish line.
Brits Dominate the Women's Semi -Finals
In the first women's semi-final, Ellie Aldridge (GBR) only had to win one race to earn her place in the four-board final. However, it was another British rider Maddie Anderson (GBR) who put a win on the board after a barnstorming performance in the wavy conditions. In the next race however, Aldridge hit her stride and was first across the line, booking her place to the final round.
Another British rider, Katie Dabson (GBR), was in the box seat for the other semi-final. Yet in two successive races Dabson suffered some spectacular wipe-outs at critical moments. The British rider saw her advantage ebbing away as Breiana Whitehead (AUS) and Gal Zukerman (ISR) drew level on two match points each. In a who-beats-who scenario, Dabson finally saw out her semi-final and joined Aldridge as the other qualifier in the final.
Out of the start in the first race of the final, the two stand-out performers of 2022 leapt out to an early lead. Lauriane Nolot (FRA) took a narrow advantage ahead of Daniela Moroz (USA) on the approach to the windward mark. But then, a Nolot crash, and Moroz moved into a lead that she would extend until the finish. Victory to Moroz, silver for Nolot and bronze for Aldridge.
Moroz spent her formative kiting years on San Francisco Bay and still does a lot of training there today. "Those were great conditions today, I felt pretty comfortable in the waves," she said. "I've had to work harder than ever this year and the level is going to keep on going up. I'm super happy to have won here." After an unbroken five-year streak of victories in all events came to an end earlier this year, Moroz's sheen of invincibility was broken. Nolot has become a real threat to the American's strong grip on the top of the fleet, so for Moroz this was a sweet victory to be back on top for the biggest event of the year. While the will to beat each other is strong, Nolot and Moroz are also the best of friends on shore. This is a friendly rivalry that looks likely to go all the way to the Paris Games in 2024.
French Through the Final
Axel Mazella (FRA) and Theo de Ramecourt (FRA) made short of work of qualifying from their respective semi-finals, both French riders earning their place in the final alongside Toni Vodisek (SLO) and Max Maeder (SGP) who had already qualified from their performance in gold fleet racing a day earlier.
Vodisek and Maeder took an early lead ahead of the French out of the start line of the first final race. Maeder moved ahead and narrowly led Vodisek at the windward mark and started to stretch away downwind. The Singaporean continued to lead and when Vodisek crashed at high speed downwind, Maeder's job became even easier. Not that anything was easy in today's wavy conditions.
Now the top two were tied on points. In the next race however, it was Maeder who crashed downwind and never recovered. The French riders couldn't keep up with Vodisek initially although in the closing stages de Ramecourt pulled out all the stops to close down on the Slovenian. It wasn't enough. Vodisek held his nerve, crossed the finish line victorious, launching himself more than 10 metres into the sky as he celebrated his first ever world title.
Maeder was unhappy to have taken silver but admitted he hadn't been good enough. It turned out de Ramecourt had been UFD disqualified for starting too soon, so the bronze medal went to Mazella.
After finishing runner-up to the 16-year-old Maeder at the recent European Championship, Vodisek turned the tables on the young Singaporean and looks to be getting back to his best. "Maximilian has been pushing me to raise my level. He is such an inspiration at such a young age. I have had a few second places and I don't like that, so I'll be working hard for next season when I go back to Slovenia."
Poetto Beach delivered a full range of conditions across the six days of competition. For the 150 riders from 44 nations, it was a big learning experience, and Vodisek and Moroz have set a new bar of performance in high-speed kitefoiling.
1 SLO Toni Vodisek
2 SGP Maximilian Maeder
3 FRA Axel Mazella
1 USA Daniela Moroz
2 FRA Lauriane Nolot
3 GBR Ellie Aldridge