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Many of the globe's leading kite hydrofoil riders tested out the warm waters of the Mediterranean, warming up ahead of the opening ceremony at the KiteFoil GoldCup to be staged off Hang Loose Beach.
The racers ripped across the relatively smooth waters off south-west Italy's coast measuring their pace against friends in the tight-knit set while tweaking hydrofoil and kite settings to gain maximum advantage in the "open" KiteFoil GoldCup class.
In the gathering breeze that hit about 14kts, the riders initially put up their biggest 18m kites, but at its height some of the seven women due to compete opted for kites as small as 9m. The wind forecast looks good and may see many on smaller-sized kites over the coming days.
In all 48 kiters from 18 nations registered to contest the four-day event with the stunning coastline of Calabria serving as the backdrop, for the contest hosted by Hang Loose Beach with Audi Zentrum as one of the major sponsors.
A low-key opening ceremony heralded the start of the proceedings, but it could yet presage fireworks on the water with European Formula kite champion Olly Bridge (GBR) and reigning course-board world champion Maxime Nocher (FRA) going head-to-head on their foil boards.
Sadly, leading foil contender Nico Parlier (FRA) was forced to pull out just a day before the start after suffering a deep gash on his foot on a beach elsewhere needing eight stitches and making it impossible for him to compete. Top Americans Johnny Heineken, sister Erika, and Joey Pasquali also did not make the trip.
In the roster of women, who will compete in the same fleets as the men, Britain's multiple Formula board world champion Steph Bridge will be up against the young Russian, Elena Kalinina, for the honours.
For several days already riders have been concerned about plastic bags and large jellyfish in the water that can lead to hard crashes at more than 30kts when either become wrapped around the foil.
No doubt the ultra-competitive fleet of men and women will find ways to overcome the obstacles thrown their path to put on four days of spectacular racing guaranteed to excite and enthrall.
For more information contact:
media contact: Ian MacKinnon
liveblog: kitenews.frAbout IKA
The IKA was formed to give an international platform to the skills and talents of competition kiteboarders throughout the world. Since 2008, the IKA has been developing competition formats and rules as a class association within the International Sailing Federation, with the ambition of securing kitesurfing an Olympics berth.
Besides potential Olympic kite racing format, several professional tours are sanctioned by the IKA, from freestyle through wave riding to the experimental "open" hydrofoil discipline.
Additional programs of the IKA include cooperation with KB4Girls, focused on empowering women through the sport of kiteboarding, the Kite Board Tour (KTA) Race centers which are offering training and coaching opportunities to sailors in south-east Asia, and the KTA Kite Kids' program which is offering training and participation programs to children in emerging countries.