EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix crowns its champions and looks forward to an even more successful event in 2012.

Sadly the wind failed to materialize for the final day of competition at the EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix on the Murcia region of Spain’s Mar Menor, where an innovative new event has been taking place over the last four days with kiteboarders part of the competition alongside boats such as the A-Class and F18 catamarans, the foiling Moth and the 29erXX – the favorite to be chosen as the new Olympic women’s two person skiff for Rio 2016.

Within the event the inaugural Kite Cross World Championship was held. While there were run-away leaders in some classes, including double Olympic Tornado medalist Mitch Booth in the F18 catamaran, the closest finish across the whole competition was in the men’s kiteboarding competition. Yesterday San Francisco’ Bryan Lake drew level with Miami’s Damien LeRoy but ultimately it was LeRoy who goes home with the first ever Kite Cross World Championship title.

It was a great week,” commented LeRoy. “We had lighter winds, but we got a lot of races in and there was quite a battle between Bryan and myself. I can’t complain – this is my first world championship win. It is incredible.” Previously LeRoy’s best result in a major competition was a second at the course world championship last year.

This being the first ever Kite Cross Worlds, the organizers were trying out new course formats. “I think it is a good start,” said LeRoy of how this progressed. “We did some tests with different courses in different heats, but what is unique is that we can race in 6-10 knots which is what will help our sport grow and possibly get it into the Olympics. The boats were out there struggling and we were out there racing. It just shows we have the potential to take it to another level and we had a bunch of guys out there racing hard.

“Definitely the slalom set-up is good. When the wind gets lighter, they have got to make it tighter because we were doing a lot of reaching, rather than downwind racing. They were really good at adjusting the course due to the wind, which is good. We ran different heats – sometimes full fleets, half fleets to four people at a time. I think for spectators more people is better, but I think running rounds is a little bit more user friendly for people that maybe came here and are not up to par – they get more races.”

Undisputed winner of the women’s Kite Cross World title was France’s Caroline Adrien. Coming from Brest in northwest France, Adrien sailed a perfect series with the exception of the final race yesterday when the entire women’s fleet lined up. In that race she was beaten by Germany’s Kristin Boese. “It is a very good competition,” said Adrien, who was also the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association World Tour winner this year. “It is a little bit light but it is technical and I am happy.”

Adrien hopes greatly that kiteboarding will be included in the Olympic Games for Rio 2016. “That is my first objective and I stand by for the decision,” she says.

Markus Schwendther, Executive Secretary of the International Kiteboarding Association was pleased with how the first ever Kite Cross World Championship had gone. “The organization was perfect. The venue was perfect. We could have had a little bit more wind, but that is something we can’t control. In general we are pretty happy with having seven rounds in pretty light winds, but it also showed that it is possible to do it in the super light. On the first day we had 5-6 knots and yesterday we had 8-10 knots and that was already plenty. So it showed that even in light winds you can have spectacular sailing.” Being able to do this would not have been possible even five years ago with the technology available.

Schwendther says the rules for this type of competition are still to be finalized. In particular they need to decide on how best to deal with crashes, tangles, capsizes and the like if one competitor who has done nothing wrong is ‘taken out’ by another. “I think you need rules 10-12 and 18.2a, so the inner boat on the mark to protect them from attacks from behind. We will make a small working party and discuss that and do some fine tuning from our experience here and it should be good.”

Entries at this championship were relatively small, however Schwendther says this is to be expected at kiteboarding events when there is a light forecast prior to the event. However most of the big players from the other disciplines of kiteboarding took part with the exception of those who have solely committed to their one area and do nothing else.

At present Schwendther says there is no news as to how or when an evaluation of kiteboarding versus windsurfing, as the discipline that will feature at Rio 2016, will take place. Within kiteboarding there are a number of disciplines such as speed sailing, freestyle, wave, slalom, course, some of which are not appropriate as they demand more wind than may be on offer at an Olympic venue.

“The only options are course racing or slalom. We have a speed discipline where you measure the time over 500m, so you could have the Olympic record and have big equipment and go as fast as possible and just compare times, but I think it is most likely it would be course racing possibly with some slalom at the finish, like the RS:X, because that is something ISAF knows.”

Organizer of the EUROSAF High Performance Grand Prix Rafa González said he was happy with how this first event had gone, even though at the start of the event he had been nervous about a potential lack of wind. He confirmed that both EUROSAF and the Murcia government have agreed to hold the event again in 2012, however he has yet to finalize a date.  All the classes that came this year have been invited back for 2012 and the kiteboards have suggested that one of their European championships be held in conjunction with the event next year.

“I would very much like to thank Nautivela, Magic Marine, Murcia and the Municiality of Los Alcazares,” said González.

Marco Predieri, President of EUROSAF, added: “Just another regatta was not what we wanted. In association with the Region de Murcia and the Real Federacion Española de Vela, EUROSAF were very excited to have the opportunity of organizing a new type of sailing event, from which the High Performance Grand Prix was created. This is something very different for the sailing world. We have brought together diverse sailing disciplines in kiteboarding, foiling, multihulls and skiffs, and created a single competition for these very different branches of the sport of sailing. The event has met all our expectations and more, and we look forward to organizing it again in 2012, back here in Murcia.”

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