2021 European Championships: France

I recently finished the 2021 European Championships which were held in Montpellier, France. I will briefly discuss my results and some lessons learned and then I’ll share some information about the event and the venue.

Going in to this event I wanted to have realistic expectations. This is my first European event and first big race in nearly 2 years due to the pandemic. This meant that I didn’t really know how much the other riders have progressed in comparison to me. My biggest goal was to make Silver Fleet in the event. Some other goals included, finishing every race, and not breaking any equipment or sustaining any injuries (always a goal).

The short story:

  • I made silver fleet and ended up 57th of 91 in the men’s event
  • No injuries this event
  • No broken equipment
  • I missed one race
  • I am happy with my results and excited to move up next month at Worlds in Italy!

The long story:

Myself and another Canadian rider, Alexis Vandame, arrived in Montpellier a few days before the event. Due to quite low wind conditions we only had 1 day of practice before the event started when we planned for 4. This was not the end of the world as we took a couple days to recharge from the long travel and time change.

The event had 91 Male competitors, 40+ female competitors and 30+ youth competitors from 30 different countries. The male competitors were split up into fleets or heats of 30 riders in which they would compete against each day. At the end of each day the fleets would be shuffled and after 3 days of qualification series, a Gold, Silver, and Bronze fleet assignment would be determined. After this, you are locked in those fleets and can only move as high as 1st place in those fleets.

Day 0: Equipment registration and inspection. Each rider has to have certain parts of their equipment inspected by the Technical committee. At this event they were focusing on safety equipment such as helmet and life jacket certifications. After this was completed there was a practice race. The practice race was fun. My speed felt okay, but my position on the start line was not ideal. Ended

Day 1: Wind from the South east, approximately 14-17 knots and medium size swell. I was designated to the first fleet of the day to race. The race committed attempted to start race 1 which was subsequently abandoned as one of the boats got caught in a fishing net and the course was set incorrectly. We were sent back to shore and waited for an hour or so for them to sort this out. Finally we returned to the course and completed 5 very fast paced races in succession. I felt as though I had pretty decent starts. I was close to the line and in clear air. I placed approximately mid fleet in each race which I was happy with. I had a few clean races but also had a couple of messy races with some falls. The race course was different than one I had ever raced kites on in the past. It was a large “trapezoid” shaped course which allows many different fleets to race at the same time. This allowed the Race Committee to complete 30 races in just 5 hours which is absolutely amazing.

Day 2: No wind and beach break too large to launch. We spent the day speaking with the kite designers and some top riders and received some very valuable input on equipment and training.

Day 3: No wind and beach break too large to launch. We walked around the city center of Montpellier and saw some sights in the morning and then tried to stay out of the sun in the afternoon.

Day 4: Wind from West-South-West 10-15 knots, minimal swell. Due to my results on day 1 I was placed in Silver Fleet. This means that I would be competing with the 31st-60th placed riders. Even though it was silver fleet here were some huge names in the fleet. I was excited for the opportunity to move up a bit in the rankings. I started on my 21 meter Kite which is the largest option due to light wind. When I got on the race course the 21 felt quite overpowered and so I was planning on switching after race 1. Unfortunately on the second down wind, while doing quite well in the race, I made a mistake and put my kite down in the water. This was a rookie error and meant that I was very slow to finish race 1. I got over to the start line just in time for race 2 but them my kite fell out of the sky and this caused me to miss the start to race 2.

Finally, I got the kite back in air and the wind was back up. I decided to still switch to the 15 meter which ended up being an error. I raced the 2 final races of the day underpowered on the 15 meter. It felt good upwind but just didn’t have the power down wind. The results of the day were not spectacular and I dropped down a couple spots. I learned a lot and hope to reduce these errors in the future.

Day 5: Final day. Again, due to light wind and a late start to the day, the race committee was only able to complete the “medal series” and no extra races for the remaining fleets afterward. We did spend the day watching the men’s, women’s, and youth medal series races which were very exciting. After this, I went out on the water and trained in the late afternoon with a huge number of riders who wanted to capitalize on the evening breeze.

We had the awards ceremony and celebration that evening and the next day I dropped Alexis off at the airport and drove to Marseille for the day. I did some sight seeing and got ready for my early morning flight the next day.

Overall, I am happy with the results and appreciate the experience. I hope to use all I learned this week to better prepare for the World Championships in Italy next month.

Full results available here:

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CORK 2021

This year is the first year that the very established institution of CORK (Canadian Olympic Regatta Kingston) is holding a kitefoiling event. We are all super excited to have another event in Kingston this year. The even was scheduled for 4 days of racing.

Day 1 involved some very strange wind conditions from the north-west. Since this wind direction is coming from the land instead of over the water it can be much more challenging and unpredictable.

Day 2 we were unable to race due to low wind.

Day 3 we attempted to race and got on the course but then the wind died again, resulting in no races that day.

Day 4 we were able to complete 3 races ending with some very light wind again.

Total number of races was only 7 over 4 days.

Unfortunately, this event I claimed 2nd place overall again, just shy of first by a handful of points. With plenty to work on, I will continue to train in preparation for the European Championships in Montpellier, France.

Results: http://www.cork.org/past-results/results2021/kite/kite_results.htm

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Foil Kingston / FORK 2021

This year was the 6th round of the foil regatta held in Kingston, called FORK. It was part of a larger foiling regatta which included Wind foilers, Wazp Sailors, and foiling catamarans. The conditions were pretty amazing all weekend and we ended up with 3 full days of racing.

After the first day of racing I was leading the event with results of 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd. It was extremely close racing with Mike and Matt. The entire event I raced on the largest of my kites, the 21 meter. Even though the wind was light, the conditions were consistent and allowed the race officer to complete a total of 12 races.

In the end, Mike took 1st place and I followed in second by a 3 point difference over the 12 races. I’m feeling pretty good about the result and know I need to keep pushing the start line in order to get ahead early.

Looking forward to racing in a few weeks time at the next Sail Canada National Team Qualification even, CORK.

Results: https://results.kingstonyachtclub.com/?r=2021/Regattas/FORK%20Kites%202021.htm

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Magdalen Islands

After some delays due to fog, we made it to the Magdalen Islands safe with all of our gear. 

This was my first time to the islands and this place is absolutely amazing. Despite some rather cold weather compared to Ontario, it is so beautiful here. We rented a house with a few others and had a wonderful week enjoying the local food and exploring new places to kite. It was nice to spend some time on the water with pure fun in mind and not focusing on our training. 

I think about other athletes who have spoken about burnout and try to remind myself why I started kiteboarding. This was a sport where I could enjoy being on the water with few barriers and not having to rely on others to do it. I do think it’s important to take training seriously but it is also great to share the sport with your friends and support group who do for recreation. 

We had a short but fun training session and then everyone spent the remainder of the time focusing on other disciplines of kiteboarding. I got to test out my wing foil for the first time and spend some time back on a twin tip. 

I returned to Kingston refreshed and ready to train hard in the upcoming camp hosted by Sail Canada. 

See the amazing photos of the landscape below:

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Sail Canada Training Blocks

The national sport authority for Sailing, Sail Canada, also governs the kite foil racing. This winter Sail Canada made an announcement about new support and training camps that will be hosted this summer. The purpose is to identify the level of skill the athletes have and start to identify candidates for the National Sailing Team in preparation for the 2021 World Championships.

I was accepted into the training block in Toronto for early May, however the camp was cancelled due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Fortunately, the second clinic was able to go ahead. This clinic was held in Montreal the last few days of May and had a good number of riders from the east coast. Due to weather we were unable to kite the first day bit coach Dan Cunningham made up for this on the subsequent days. We spent a solid 4-5 hours on the water both days practicing race starts and maneuvers.

Each day I clocked over 110 kilometers of travel via kiteboard while sailing around our practice course. The conditions were superb with the ability to use our largest kites for light wind and our medium sized kites for the stronger winds.

Next up after this camp will be a trip to the Magdalen Islands in a few weeks time with a few friends and training partners. Hoping to spend some time on the ocean and get some waves. Beyond the formal training we will have some fun with freestyle kiting and try some Wing-Foiling.

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Updates for the 2024 Olympic Events

This spring there was a vote by the International Olympic Committee which made some changes to the sailing events scheduled for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Previous to this vote, there was only one event for kiteboarding and this would mean that male and female athletes from one country would team up for a relay race in competition with other teams.

The vote by the IOC this spring resulted in an additional event for kiteboarding. There will now be individual events for male and female kiteboarders. Although the relay was going to be very interesting racing, it is exciting that there is two events now.

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FORK Regatta 2020

Photos and Results Below

This year we hosted FORK the first week of October 2-4. Due to Covid-19 restrictions this will be the only event I have been able to attend since Mexico.

It was an exciting year for FORK as there was considerable interest by Sail Canada and increased support from The Kingston Yacht Club. We had Program Director, Ken Dool present on the race course over the weekend. Sail Canada provided GPS tracking support and data analysis after the event.

Unfortunately due to weather conditions day 1 and day 2 did not have any races.

Day 3 (Oct 4th)

The Race Committee was keen and managed to start 6 races back to back throughout the day during a solid window of south west breeze.

Race 1 consisted of most athletes starting on 15m kites. My start was solid and I punched out ahead by the first tack. The first upwind I felt appropriately powered up and kept the lead. However, during the second down wind leg of the race the breeze had dropped quite a bit. I was able to secure 1st place in the first race on the Flysurfer VMG2 15m. Immediately after finishing I quickly returned to the launch at Lake Ontario Park and switched over to the 21m and returned to the course in time for the next race.

Race 2 I had a similar start but undershot my lay line to the windward mark and had to throw in 2 more tacks than expected. This cost me a position and I finished in 2nd.

After six races I had 4 second and 2 first place results. A net score of 8 points with a discard meant that I tied for First place but ended second place in the event.

I was very happy with this final result as it was my best FORK since the regatta started. I felt that the hard work spent in Mexico last winter had paid off. I look forward to my next event.

In the mean time, I will be contributing to the pandemic efforts by working for the Federal Government as a Registered Nurse in a prison based Covid unit.

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Flysurfer Kiteboarding

Some exciting news! I recently switched my primary gear sponsor to Flysurfer Kiteboarding. It is an honor to be included in this team which has recently been a powerhouse in Kite Racing.

I would like to extend a great thanks to my sponsors over the past few years, F-One Canada and Kitebroker. I would not have been able to get to the point I am at now without their support.

I am very excited to share my thoughts and experience with Flysurfer’s new race kite, the VMG 2. I first saw prototypes of this kite in Mexico this winter. Now that I have had my first VMG2s for a few weeks, I can say that I am very impressed.

Some notable improvements that I can see over previous generations of kites are as follows:

  • Drastically reduced drag profile through new bridle line plans and semi-rigid wing structure. There exists more internal rigid structure in each cell of the kite which is a new technology to the kite racing scene. By moving the structure inside the wing, it reduced the amount of lines needed outside the kite, therefore reducing the overall drag profile.
  • Much higher or efficient upwind angles. The kite flies much further forward in the window than past equipment I have used. This may be due to the reduced drag profile. This in-turn allows the rider to sail at higher angles and pinch off competitors.
  • Smoother flight through maneuvers. Typically, I would not expect to immediately be able to perform good tacks and gybes on new equipment. When I went to perform my first tack on the 21m VMG2 I was pleasantly surprised at the ease. The “loft”, or feeling of being lifted up in my harness was nothing like I had previously experienced.
  • Unparalleled depower: It feels as though these kites have much more consistent pull and are easily depowered by releasing the bar. I feel that I am able to carry a much larger kite upwind without being overpowered. For example, the 21m can be flown when I would previously have chosen an 18m or 15m size kite. This allows for larger sail area downwind and therefore deeper angle at similar or greater speed than smaller kites.

This is just the start and I hope to see an improvement in my performance at the FORK Regatta this summer here in Kingston, COVID permitting the event happens.

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Kingston Freedom

After a mandatory 14 day isolation, I went back to work as a Registered Nurse for the Government of Canada. I am lucky to have a job in a time like this and am proud to be helping people.

Fortunately the restrictions have lifted a bit and have allowed me to get back on the water and start training. The water has been frosty but it is well worth the break from work. The weather has been crazy with a snow fall on May 7th!!

 

 

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COVID-19 and the Broken Van

Unfortunately due to somewhat unforeseen circumstances with the global pandemic, I have decided to leave Mexico early. My trip across California and the USA has been cancelled.

My van had some issues the last few days here and due to the Canadian government telling citizens to come home immediately, I have decided to leave my van here in La Ventana and fly home. The van could not be fixed in time to start the 10-14 day drive home. Fortunately, there is a reliable local who will fix the van and store it for me for the year.

My hope is to return to La Ventana next winter for some more training, and perhaps drive it home at that time. I am so lucky to have been able to take the time off work and I have had so much fun kiting nearly every day.

This has been roller-coaster of a trip but it was very productive and I am excited to return home.

Till next time, LV!

 

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