The final for the World Sailing Cup in Melbourne took place off St. Kilda in a wide range of conditions from 12 – 35knots over the 6 days. A great test for all the athletes that had made the journey to compete in this inaugural event that was in no doubt set to remind worldsailing & the IOC why kiteboarding should become part of the Olympic Games in 2020.
The fleet of 20 were split into 2 and 6 races took place each day to determine Gold & silver fleet. The short Track Format was tested which meant for much tighter courses, a close field of racing & a more clear vision for spectators to see who was winning. Boat Handling skills & a decent start paramount in these 8 minute races where if you crashed you lost everything. No room for gear failure or being sloppy, this format became ‘next level’ on day 3 when the wind blew in onshore 30-35knots and all other sailing was cancelled for the day – all except the foiling kites! The shallow waters off Port Elizabeth meant that the sea state remained rough for the next day while people continued to ride on their small kites. Day 5, the day of medal races where all can be lost or gained in a show down of 3 medal races back to back that are non discardable. A format which gives huge added pressure to the athletes, this time saw Olly Going in with a 15 point lead to his brother – Guy who was separated by just 2 points between Florian Grubber & Florian Trittle for 3rd & 4th Places.
The kites took to the stadium which was a small area close to the beach with live data displayed on a big screen and all angles / speeds bought to the beach with some decent live commentary. This was it – the real thing! Foiling kites racing a round a track that is visual where there are plenty of opportunities to gain/ loose/ crash. Olly’s first rounding of the top mark saw him take a huge stack in some seaweed and this got the crowd going: suddenly the favourite to win that has won every race up until now has just crashed hard & struggling to re-start. Olly put the roomers to bed in race 2 & 3 with blinding starts & sailing his best to take Gold in the World Sailing Final. The job was not so easy for 2nd, 3rd & 4th where all but a point separated the 3 athletes, leaving nothing to chance it was the final reach to the finish that saw Guy hold onto podium position but not the colour he wanted! Guy’s crash in race 2 had cost him the silver which went to Spannish rider – Florian Trittle with just 1 point away Guy Took 3rd while Florian Grubber stayed in 4th place.
Exciting times for the sport right now – Like it or not the short track format is here to stay if this sport gets to the Olympic Games. Kiteboarding is leading the way in what the IOC want to see and although the long upwind/ downwind legs were not used – its funny how the same people still win. In fact, the sailor just had to step up their game.