Day 4 at the 2013 African Course Racing Championships, with all to play for as the kiters focused on climbing into the top 10 on the leaderboard and qualify through to Friday’s medal series. Soma Bay in Egypt today served up another day of strong winds, with the breeze gusting up to 25 knots. A little less extreme than yesterday, but still fairly exciting – perfect for the heaving wind thrillseekers.
Five races were held for the 80 kiters in this concluding day of the final series. First to hit the race track were the men’s gold fleet with everyone starting on starboard and close together. Series leader Johnny Heineken was on a roll yesterday, and continued his winning ways today, quickly opening up a big gap between him and Adam Koch in second, with Riccardo Leccese following closely. Heineken has so far been flawless in the final series and scored another bullet, with Leccese finishing in second after overtaking Koch and the American Brian Kender in 4th. These top finishers were now seriously threatening Germany’s Florian Gruber in the overall standings, who needed to defend his third place.
In the second race the two Americans, Koch and Pasquali, started on port, aiming to cross in front of the Heineken – but Heineken was simply unstoppable and extremely fast in the conditions. Heineken rounded first at the downwind gate, this time followed by Leccesse and Kender in third. While Heineken and Leccese had a solid performance extending their points difference, it was Kender who, despite his off pace performance in the qualifying series, was now upping his game.
After a short break, a further 3 races were held, with Heineken wrapping up every race win to end the final series with an immaculate scoreline. After fifteen races over the past four days, the top 10 going through to the medal races are decided, with Johnny Heineken heading up the men kiters, with a 5 point margin over Italy’s Riccardo Leccese. Both these top two have more than a 15 point margin over the rest of the pack – so get ready for some close racing tomorrow. In third is Florian Gruber of Germany.
In the women’s fleet it was Erika Heineken who started the day’s opening race on port, followed by the rest of the top pack in the leaderboard, and her move paid well, as she rounded in first at the bottom gate and most importantly for Heineken in front of Bridge – positions they held to the finish. However, despite the strong challenge from Heineken, Bridge was clearly not ready to step down from the top of the leaderboard, and upped her game for the second race of the day. Looking more determined, she was first to the upwind mark, although being pushed hard by reigning Course Racing World Champion Heineken. Bridge held her lead on the second upwind, whilst Heineken fell behind and gave an opening for Holland’s Katja Roose to get closer. After scoring a series of third places in the series, Roose was eager to secure a better finish, which in turn would force the Russian Kalinina to release her hold on the third overall leaderboard placing. Roose kept her cool and went on to score a second place, followed by a win in race 4 of the day, which rewarded her with a move into third overall.
Heineken went on to win two more races, and narrow the points advantage held by series leader Bridge to just 2 points.
The Medal race series is scheduled as a “best of three” repechage consisting of quarterfinal, semi-final and final, where only one competitor advances from stage to stage.
TOP 3 for the 2013 African Course Racing Championship
- Johnny Heineken (USA)
- Riccardo Andrea Leccese (ITA)
- Florian Gruber (GER)
- Steph Bridge (GBR)
- Erika Heineken (USA)
- Katja Roose (NED)