To have won kiting’s debut EUROSAF event is a great feeling.
Kites have been part of past two Sail Melbourne Olympic Classes regattas. But the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, Holland last week was the first time we have had a demonstration event like this in Europe.
The organisation and logistics for this event were really different to what we’re used to on the kite circuit, but it was a really good event.
For me, Holland was for learning about, and starting to get used to, some of these things, with kiteboarding being proposed as an Olympic discipline for Tokyo 2020.
The format of racing was along the lines of what is being proposed for Olympic kiteboarding, and it was completely new to me.
There were six people in each race and we competed multiple times, in changing groups, against each other. We used the high point scoring system, so 10 point for a win, seven for second, five for third etc, and raced on short track courses.
Normally our races are about 15 minutes long, but these were only five minutes so it was really intense racing, and the starts were really important. We started on a reach, which is again different to what were used to as in typical kiting events, we normally do upwind starts, and it was really important to get to the downwind mark first.
It was ok once we got used to it, but we had to get used to it! I’d only had one day in Medemblik before the event started too, so didn’t have much time to practice.
Having so many boats out on the water at the same time, and so many boats and people around the dinghy park was massively different. We normally have 100 guys out on the water, but I soon realised because of the numbers and scheduling involved in an event like this, I’d have to be a bit more time organised than usual!
We were kept out on the water longer than we’re used to too, and we couldn’t come back to the beach much because the wind was offshore and really gusty, which made it tough. We didn’t have coach boats in the kiting fleet so when we were held on the water, waiting for racing to start, the start boat helped us out with water to stay hydrated.
Because this was the first event like this for us, there was loads of discussions on the beach with the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) and the event organisers themselves. They wanted our opinions on how the format could be improved and the event made better. It was good to be able to express our opinions and have them listened to.
Personally for the event to improve, I think we need the top 20 guys in the World at every event. We had probably five really good guys in Holland, including the 2013 World Champion, Florian Gruber (GER), and the rest of the fleet was just getting to grips with the sport and racing at a high level.
Although I don’t think there are any other events like this planned in Europe for this year, I really hope there might be a couple more added as I’d be really keen to do them. Europe’s easy to get to and I found it a really useful, interesting experience.
Until we know whether kiteboarding is definitely going to be included for Tokyo 2020, we have to find a way to keep being able to progress our ‘Olympic’ kiting while also doing all our normal kiting events, in the different disciplines.
Normally in training I’m just worried about how to go faster, but as the Olympic format begins to evolve, I think there will be a shift in what we all have to start focusing on.
For now, my attention switches to our World Championships in Turkey in August and our Europeans in Poland in early September. Before that I head to the Formula Kite African Championships in Egypt, which I did for the first time last year. It’s a really good spot in Soma Bay and my mum, Steph, the women’s World Champion, will be there too.
I’m in my first year of A-levels in Sixth Form and have just finished my exams so I can focus totally on training now. It’s a bit of a balancing act between studying, training and competing, it has been harder than during my GCSEs, but I’ve still been managing to do about five sessions a week. At the moment we’re all practicing with our new 2014 kit, which we’re allowed to use for the first time in a couple of weeks.
Hopefully my gold in Holland is the start of what will be another successful season.