Friday, 01 December 2023 13:34

The Edge of Control

© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Gusty conditions wreaked havoc in the fourth race © IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Gusty conditions wreaked havoc in the fourth race IKA media/ Robert Hajduk

- Four more races in ever increasing breeze, gusting close to 30 knots
- Jingle Chen overtakes Lauriane kitefoilinge women
- Max Maeder wins 3 out of 4 to move ahead of Toni Vodisek
- Many feel the fear, but not Joseph Jonathan Weston from Thailand

Spiky, gusty conditions took the world’s best kiteboarders to the edge of control on day two of the Lakewood Hills KiteFoil World Series China.

Back on the beach after four hair-raising races, the adrenalin was still coursing through the athletes’ bodies and minds. Even Max Maeder, who rose to the top of the rankings with three wins from four starts, needed a moment to collect his thoughts. “I think I need a couple of minutes to calm down,” said the 17-year-old from Singapore. “It was windy, but it’s not so much the wind itself. With the sheer amount of wind comes the gusts. Those are the deadly ones, when you’re riding peacefully that’s OK because it’s predictable. But when the gust hits, it can break equipment.

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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Nolot (left) being chased by Chen and Li (right)


“I was on the verge of an adrenalin rush that could have sent me over the edge of control. I was struggling to stay in control. I was fearing for my safety and the equipment. It wasn’t really the performance that mattered but how you kept your mind together in those tough situations.”

Lauriane Nolot came ashore unhappy that the third and fourth races had gone ahead as the gustiness of the breeze continued to increase throughout the early afternoon. The French rider was the 12th and last finisher across the line of the frenetic fourth race, while Chinese rider Jingle Chen finished seventh and put together a solid set of scores across the challenging day to take over the lead in the women’s rankings.

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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Qibin Huang treading the fine line between control and crash


In the men, Toni Vodisek has yielded the top spot to Maeder. Even so, the effervescent Slovenian was still smiling despite a testing day on the Pearl Sea. “Crazy conditions out there today,” he grinned. “Unfortunately I snapped a line, but I was pushing, pushing. And crashing, crashing! Too many mistakes, but I was like a crazy pitbull chasing from the back. The first and second race I hit a plastic bag I think. It felt like it pulled me down, but the third race the crash was my mistake.”

Despite all the crashes and errors, Vodisek scored three second places in the first three races.. Then equipment failure before the start of the fourth race brought his day to an early close. “I was fortunate when it happened. It was just before the start and I was going through a gybe when the wind died completely and then a big gust, and it completely exploded my lines. So I learned something today, I need stronger lines! But I’m happy to have got some good results and to get off the water without hurting myself.”

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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Bearing away at the top mark was a hazard point on the course

A race win for Denis Taradin helped lift the Cypriot rider to third overall, displacing Chinese rider Qibin Huang to fourth. However, Huang was still happy with his day out. Survival was uppermost in his thoughts. “In the last race, the gusts were really, really strong and it started feeling a little bit dangerous, so I was actually signalling to Max Maeder that we should all slow down. So we raised our kites up, slowed down, and decided to just be safe and get across the finish line. But that’s kite racing. You have to race in all the conditions. I would rather sail in softer, more beautiful winds, but there’s also lots of interest and fun in these conditions like today.”


One rider who defies the norm in many ways is Joseph Jonathan Weston from Thailand. Weighing just 70kg, the 19-year-old is one of the lightest in the fleet and 25kg or more lighter than a number of the frontrunners in the men’s division. Getting off the beach in the swirling, gusty conditions was in some ways as hard as the racing itself, but Weston sat serenely in the sand, waiting for the wind to settle before he grabbed his opportunity to get on the water.

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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Joseph Jonathan Weston (middle distance) in serene form

Through all the maelstrom of the day, Weston stepped back ashore as serenely as he had departed two hours earlier. Despite his weight disadvantage, the Thai rider notched up ever-improving scores of 8,7,6,4, a phenomenally consistent achievement. “It has been a tough day for some of the riders, but not me.

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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Weston exudes calm and serenity whatever the weather

“The thing is to be patient, stay stable, and do your best. In the end everything will go up to the podium. I will keep on fighting for it,” he smiled, refusing to acknowledge that there had been even a moment of fear on the water. “I like it actually. I would like to have more wind and go faster.”

With another forecast of strong wind for Saturday, perhaps Weston’s unusual wish will come true.



Maximilian Maeder


8.0 p


Toni Vodisek


10.0 p


Denis Taradin


19.0 p




Jingle Chen


79.0 p


Lauriane Nolot


87.0 p


Wan Li


98.0 p

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© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: In kitefoiling you take nothing for granted

Last modified on Friday, 01 December 2023 13:53
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