Sail Melbourne ISAF World Cup dominated by NKB teamrider Florian Gruber (GER) and Ariane Imbert (FRA)!
The first ISAF sailing World Cup after the disappointing decision to exclude Kiteboarding from the Olympics, did not stop the enthusiasm of the competitors and saw the biggest fleet at Sailing Melbourne World Cup ever.
Melbourne, a city where people say about it “it shows all four seasons in one day”, did the best possible to support exciting races. With temperatures between 12 and 37 degrees and wind speeds from light breezing 5 knots south easterly, to strong 25 to 42 northerly and south westerly winds, all 5 days of racing showed the huge potential Kiteboarding has for sailing sports! While on day 2 all other classes could not leave the port or shore, kiters had a blast competing everyday and battling it out in exciting races.
Outstanding in these days was definitely one North Kiteboarding rider - Florian Gruber - who won every single race he took part in the last week and of course winning Sail Melbourne in exceptional performance. In the women’s division Arian Imbert, North Kiteboarding won the women’s title, also dominating the fleet in an absolutely impressive way.
After Two days of qualification, men have been divided in gold and silver fleet racing for another 3 days, to determine who would have the honor to sail Saturdays medal race. The format of the medal race was a short track, with 4 guys on the water the same time fighting to succeed to the super final in the end.
The first heat of the medal race series went underway in strong northerly winds with gusts up to 28 knots, setting a perfect stage for the medal race course right in front of Sandringham Yacht Club. It was up to Dirk Hanel (GER, North), James Johnsen (DEN, North), Aykurt (TUR, Ozone/North) and Girdis (AUS, Aguera/Ozone) to test this new format, and with board speeds around 25 knots they went off the start and towards the top gate leaving spectators with open mouths at the shore. Both NKB riders, Hanel and Johnsen advanced from this heat to face Vance (CAN, Ozone/Mikes Lab) and Gynjol (TUR, Aguera/Ozone) in the final.
Vance went off with the best start and had a comfortable lead already at the bottom gate of the first lap, with a tight battle between Hanel and Johnsen for second. In the end Hanel managed to sty in front and advanced to the Semi Final together with Vance, where third placed Taggert (GBR, Ozone/NJS) and Cakir (TUR, Aguera/Cabrinha) have been waiting, ready to battle.
Shooting off from the start, it was Cakir in front with Vance and Taggert close behind. Cakir and Vance went through the top gate with nice downloops, fully committed to the acceleration to probably 35 knots on the downwind reach, while Taggert capsized shortly after the gate. Taggert and Hanel battled close behind the advancing Vance and Cakir and had a super close photo finish ending their hopes to make it into the final.
The final was sailed as a 3-race series, with the first race pre-scored from the previous results, meaning that Gruber and Bright went into the final series with a first and second position respectively, while Vance and Cakir pre-scored a third and fourth position.
In the meantime everybody was nailing the starts on the reach with full speed, and this time it was Gruber who had control problems when going through the top gate. Falling back to third position he was however able to catch up and even catch the victory in the first final race in again a photo finish ahead of Cakir.
The second final went off with Gruber playing it save this time, knowing that only becoming third in this final race would secure him the Sail Melbourne Gold Medal. It was up to the second upwind leg for him to catch up and finally also winning this heat, putting him on top of the podium with not having lost a single race. Vance managed to come second, and with Cakir in fourth it meant securing bronze for him. Bright sailed a solid 2-3 to secure him the silver medal.
Congratulations to not only all the winners, but to all competitors that made it to Australia.
Well done NKB Racing Team!!
And a big thank you to Sail Melbourne and Sandringham Yacht Club to conduct the racing, we will hopefully see more kite racing action in future Sailing World Cups soon. An amazing event in incredible conditions, with the best competitors in the world and awesome people involved!
1. Florian Gruber (GER, North)
2. Torrin Bright (NZL, Ozone/Mikes Lab)
3. Adam Vance (CAN, Ozone/Mikes Lab)
6. Dirk Hanel (GER, North)
7. James Johnsen (DEN, North)
1. Ariane Imbert (FRA, North)
2. Lisa Hickmann (AUS, Ozone/RRD)
3. Astrid Berz (SUI, Ozone/Aguera)