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: