The fourth and final day of the 2018 Hydrofoil Pro Tour at the St. Francis Yacht Club enjoyed stellar conditions with ample sun, wind and competition as the top ten racers hung tight for three heats up and down the course. After grinding and pushing hard for three days all looked to gain a position or two – and some did.
As competitors took to the wind-riffed water, a rose ceremony was held for kiteboard racing photographer Michael Petrikov, who shot previous Tours and was well-known and loved in this community.
Then they jockeyed into position for heat one, ripping off the line at just after 1pm, only to have a general recall due to carnage at the start with seven racers down in a tangle of kites. Racers queued for the next start sequence, only to be delayed by a humpback whale closing on the race course – not an uncommon sight in San Francisco Bay.
Racing finally commenced with the top three – Nico Parlier (FR), Johnny Heineken (StFYC) and Guy Bridge (GBR) possibly changing it up on points racing within feet of each other at times. Bridge managed an early lead only to get reeled in on the downwind legs by Parlier and Heineken. It was Parlier, Heineken, Bridge at the finish line.
Bridge put the hammer down taking bullets in the next two races, while Parlier and Heineken chased each other up and down the course. In the end, Parlier held on to the lead spot with Heineken just four points behind to take second overall and Bridge two points more for third.
“I knew I had no mistakes allowed,” said Parlier after he stood on the first-place podium during the awards ceremony at St. Francis Yacht Club. “I did the maximum I could do. It’s awesome [to compete neck and neck]. It’s what we’re all looking for. Kiting against Johnny is awesome and kiting against Johnny in San Francisco is even better.”
At the top of their game, with near flawless racing, none of them said afterwards that they would have done anything differently.
“I just didn’t sail well enough today,” said Heineken. “Guy killed it. I had a good day yesterday and he had it today.” He was pleased to have Crissy Field firing and living up to its reputation keeping the fleet flying kites in the ten-meter range.
Bridge said he would have liked to nab that second, but “I’m happy with my consistency.”
Titouan Galea (FR) showed his competitive edge by capturing fourth overall with some great finishes throughout the series. A little more consistency and he surely would have put pressure on the leaders for a podium. Tied with Galea at 60 points overall, Connor Bainbridge (GBR) should take home an award for one of the most consistent performances with so many fourth-place finishes, taking fifth overall and looking at a future podium if he remains this steady.
Joey Pasquali (StFYC) at sixth, narrowly held off Florian Gruber (GER), who endured a cracked foil and admitted to some tactical mistakes. “I thought it would be good on the inside [of the course] but it was terrible and the others just gained too much on me. In total, it was a good regatta and fun. The venue is amazing.”
Will Cyr (StFYC), Kai Calder (USA) and Jean de Falbaire (MRI) rounded out the top ten after four days of intense competition.
“This is my first top ten finish. I’m super-excited,” said Cyr, who finished 19th at last year’s Tour. “I battled with Joey Pasquali all day and I’m honored to lose to him. We were only three points apart going into today and on the water we were joking at the starts,” he said of his training partner for the past year, which is what he attributes his huge improvement to. “It was a lot of hard work and a lot of time on the water.”
Daniela Moroz (StFYC) took first place among the women competitors, but got bumped out of the top ten she coveted by just a handful of points.
“I was one of the people who got caught in that tangle in the beginning,” she said, and though it didn’t shake her, she suffered a wipeout in the day’s third race that kept her in the drink long enough for too many others to pass her. At 17 years old, Moroz continues to improve in speed, efficiency and handling as she schools most of the fleet. She’ll be one to watch again at next year’s Tour.
The awards ceremony included cash purses provided by Lynch & Associates and a raffle with sponsor swag, including F-One bars and lines, Manera board bags and impact vests, t-shirts and hoodies rom Cav Cavian and Marine Layer, Sunski shades, Ocean helmets and Cyr Designs. Thanks to all the sponsors and volunteers who make this event possible.