La Ventana lived up to its reputation this year as the 2017 Hydrofoil Pro Tour kicked off at Playa Central last week.
The first event of the 2017 season was one of the most intense competitions to date. 57 riders from 23 countries gathered to battle it out on the course, set by Rob Dean – official race director of Hydrofoil racing since 2014. By the end of day four, on March 29th, Monegasque rider Maxime Nocher was appointed champion of the first stop of the Hydrofoil Pro Tour. Not far behind was Olly Bridge (GBR) in second place, followed by Axel Mazella (FRA), then Riccardo Leccese (ITA), and, in fifth place, Florian Trittel (ESP). The top 10 included last year’s tour winner Nicolas Parlier (FRA) in 6th, Florian Gruber (GER) in 7th, Julien Kerneur (FRA) in 8th, Martin Dolenc (CRO) in 9th and Theo Lhostis (FRA) making the top ten and entirely European affair. The level of competition is extremely high but the Europeans set the bar on the first day of competition in the men’s division and the rest of the world has yet to level the playing field.
There were six women registered in the event and none of the top four were European with Daniela Moroz (USA) in 1st, Gina Hewson (AUS) in 2nd and 3rd was Cath Dufour (CAN) with Bitna Kim (KOR) in 4th. It seems like the young American rider, Moroz, is seemingly untouchable on a foil now and we’re excited to see if anyone can close the gap between her and second place on this year’s tour.
With the elite of foil racing and key figures from all the brands producing performance equipment in attendance it’s not surprising that much of the conversation overheard around Playa Central centred around the latest developments in equipment. Safety is of growing concern after two of the 57 athletes injured their ribs during training sessions, prompting discussion about the need for impact/flotation vests. The riders and judges also discussed the changes in some of the kite sailing rules, how it will affect the outcome of protests and how race directors have new responsibilities to the riders to set the course with these new rules in mind.
The event has sparked excitement about the tour ahead with riders already planning their year ahead around the upcoming tour stops and it’s clear that, even with all the discussion about Tokyo 2020 and World Sailing’s decision not to award the HFPT the right to crown world champions at the end of the tour, the competitors and the brands involved with the tour are just focused on pushing the discipline and the level of racing rather than any political agendas. With more and more brands approaching the top riders and with hydrofoil and foil kite design progressing rapidly there’s a growing momentum already behind this year’s tour!