The pack was tight and the pressure on in today's Finals Series races of the Kiteracing Oceanic Championships at Leighton Beach, Fremantle.
Competitors raced in Gold and Silver Flights in a long day of five races with the top 21 Men's division competitors in Gold, pitting the fastest racers up against eachother creating a fierce battle.
World Champion Florian Gruber from Germany won all but Race 2 when young Olly Bridge took first position when Gruber hit some seaweed and was forced to tack early, taking him away from his layline.
There was more drama in the Gold Flight in Race 2 when only four riders made it off the start line in the shifting wind. Most racers were planning a starboard start but the wind had a pin end bias and only Gruber, Bridge, Riccardo Leccese and Blazej Ozog got away clearly while the rest had to untangle and go around again to start racing.
Race 4 saw Perth's Torvar Mirsky and Alejandro Hernandez off clean at the pin end start, but after hitting lighter wind out to sea Gruber and Bridge caught them. Gruber eventually pulled away and took the race, with a scrap for second place between Bridge, Ozog and Hernandez. The latter's clean start paid off and he came in second for the race, his best result so far.
Gruber lead from the start in Race 5 with Bridge covering him as best he could. Leccese was hanging on to the third spot a fair way ahead of the rest of the field.
After rounding the top mark, it looked like Bridge was holding on, but Gruber sailed the whole reach without putting in a single gybe, whereas Bridge was not as able to sail as deep and was forced to gybe. This meant although he may have been sailing faster, he had to cover more distance and so into the upwind leg Gruber was once again widening the gap.
Gruber sailed to the top mark appreciably higher and faster than anyone else and, combined with his downwind speed, the combination was ultimately unbeatable, scoring him his fourth win of the day.
Bridge did himself proud and was over the line in second ahead of Ricardo in third.
Poland's Aga Grzymska and France's Ariane Imbert continue to battle it out on the Indian Ocean for first and second positions. It was literally a tangle between Australian Lisa Hickman and New Zealand's Justine Sellers where both needed to be rescued to pull their kites apart. Light wind specialist, Spain's Nuria Goma, took her first bullet in the last race of the day.
Racers competed in carbon copy conditions to yesterday with clear blue skies, temperatures in the high 30's and light winds.
Tomorrow the program takes a different tack with the Lighthouse to Leighton speed kiting race from pristine Rottnest Island to Leighton Beach from 2.30pm. World Speed Record Holder and inaugural Lighthouse to Leighton winner Alex Caizergues from France will be defending his record of 24 minutes 34 seconds against Gruber, Leccese, Women's World number 1 ranked Course Racer Steph Bridge, her husband Eric Bridge and son Olly Bridge, Imbert, and previous winners Jonathon Keys (2012) and Dale Stanton (2011).
Course racing will continue and there's plenty of entertainment in the Race Village.
The remaining medal races will be fought on Sunday with A$30,000 in prizemoney up for grabs in the course racing and A$5000 for the Freestyle competition.
The Kiteracing Oceanic Championships is officially sanctioned by the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). 100 championship points are awarded to the event winner.
The State Government through Tourism Western Australia is a proud supporter of the Championships.
For more information visit http://kiteoceanics.com or the event Facebook and Twitter pages. Join in the conversation with the hashtag #KiteOceanicsWA and #L2L
Top 3 Men after today's medal races:
1. Florian Gruber (Germany) 6 pts
2. Olly Bridge (Great Britain) 12 pts
3. Riccardo Leccese (Italy) 23 pt
Top 3 Women after today's medal races:
1. Aga Grzymska (Poland) 13 pts
2. Ariane Imbert (France) 16 pts
3. Nuria Goma (Spain) 29 pts
*Please note all results are preliminary at the time of release.
Photo downloads from each day's racing are available from: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/db3vd8x7dmvtgod/OfT2i1Pklu
Vision can be downloaded through Filezilla or an FTP site using the following information:
Please select Day 3 - Friday