Photos: Vasco Vellez and Steve McCormack
After an intense 6 days of racing and 27 races later, the 2014 Kitefoil Gold Cup came to a close with a new champion: Nico Parlier from France.
This 19-year-old Frenchman has a future like no other athlete in the sport of kiteboarding. With his humble outlook and incredible talent and ability to smile, enjoy and embrace every moment in life, he’s a winner. I remember when I first met Nico, he was just getting going in the sport. We were working on his autograph, “the fastest sailor in the world”, in the basement of Rob Douglas house at the North American Speed Championships. Now it is Nico’s turn, he really is a performer.
Nico was the man to beat from the start line to the finish of the regatta. One race, about 3 days into the event, we both had a moment we will never forget as Nico and myself had our kites tangled about 20 seconds before the start. We were completely wrapped and through each other’s lines. Laughing we both managed to jump though each other’s lines and untangle ourselves. After getting untangled we hit the start line about 15 to 20 seconds late, both of us starting last and second to last. Nico rode his heart out all the way to the front of the pack to win the race as I managed to take a 4th. A magical moment we will never forget, so remember the name Nico Parlier, you will hear of him again I am sure.
The conditions down under in Townsville were perfect for foil racing on beautiful Australian waters, with everyday winds of 15 to 25 knots. The locals were nothing but helpful, friendly and always there to lend a hand, not to mention “Juliet’s”, the best coffee cafe around. The Townsville Sailing club was spectacular with perfect racing and organization, and nothing but a first class effort for all the racers. All of the riders got to experience the country’s food, some of us even eating a little Kangaroo and Crocodile! Intheloop Kiteboarding and Marvin Baumeister were always on hand to lend a foil or kite to anyone in need. The Queensland events and tourism made the experience nothing but unforgettable. Riders of all ages, and competitors like legend Rich Gardner at 53 years of age, were there racing their hearts out with the worlds best. Some amazing women like Sophie Calliet and Gina Hewson were competing, racing and sharing the experience as well. Robbie Dean, race director, was nothing but first class. The event was such a success. 27 races with no issues and top notch sailing!
The racing was fast and exciting with spectators lined up down the beach.The level of racing was so high that the riders could not make any mistakes on the water as you would loose multiple spots very fast. The magical Johnny Heineken, a multiple world champion, was always battling it out in the top 3 spots with his untouchable speed and consistency. French rider Maxime Nocher was right in the mix and started to make a big drive at the end of the regatta, however, it was just not quite enough. Julien Kerneur put in an incredible effort battling for his moments of glory, but ended the competition just off the podium. I can say it was exciting just to share the water with these incredible athletes as I hung in for a top 5 finish.
GOLD CUP AUSTRALIA FINAL RESULTS:
1. Nico Parlier
2. Johnny Heineken
3. Maxime Norcher
4. Julien Kernuer
5. Damien LeRoy
6. Adam Withington
7. Benni Boelli
8. Theo De Ramecourt
9. Benjamin Petit
10. Nicolas Lesson
1. Sophie Calliet
Overall 2014 Gold Cup Male “3 events”:
1. Johnny Heineken
2. Nico Parlier
3. Maxime Nocher
Overall 2014 Gold Cup Female “3 events”:
1. Sophie Calliet
2. Steph Bridge
3. Anastasia Akopova
Thank you Townsville, Australia for hosting the best in the world and to all the organizers and sponsors. We will all be back next year. A huge thanks to Nicholas Leason with MHL Custom innovator and creator of Lift foils for making this dream come true for people like me. You made this possible for the sport of kitesurfing and without you this would have never became a reality. Thanks to all my sponsors: Cabrinha Kites, GoPro, Lift Foils, Lululemon, Lynch Associates, The Black Dog, Oakley, NP, Runa and to all who have been behind me for years.