PARLIER LENGTHENS HIS LEAD IN CHALLENGING CONDITIONS ON DAY TWO
Report: Matt Pearce / Photos: Joern Pollex – Act Agency
Day two brought with it some tough conditions for the competitors with winds gusting from 16-24 knots and some big chop out in the open water. The direction was more cross-off than the previous day which heightened the gust rang and race director Stephen Aulich and his crew had adjusted the course to take into account this new wind direction with the windward buoy placed close to the beach giving the spectators a stunning display of the sheer speed with which the racers are getting round the course!
While conditions were challenging on the course perhaps the most difficult task for the riders was just getting off the beach as this was where the wind was at its patchiest and Tour Manager Marvin Baumeister commented that, “It became apparent early on that this was going to be survival racing!”.
There were three races today and Nico Parlier put the hammer down early in the first, claiming his third bullet of the event so far as he completed the course in 11 minutes 37 seconds, coming in ahead of the ever-present Axel Mazella in second and the young Brit Olly Bridge in third.
To give an idea of how fast that is, Nico completed two of the three races (he was disqualified from the third for a false start) in under 12 minutes but many competitors were still taking ten minutes or more to get round the course after he’d crossed the finish line!
Neither Nico or any of the other riders on the course were having an easy time of it though and the clumps of seaweed lurking just beneath the water’s surface were a constant challenge as catching a foil on one of them would often result in a hard crash. When you’re charging along at 30+ knots that’s no good thing.
However, Nico, Axel and Olly were in a league of their own and it seemed nobody could touch them in the top three. In the second race, Nico set an even faster time around the course finishing in 11.18 with Olly taking second this time before Axel powered home in third. At this point the wind had dropped by a couple of knots but the gusts were no less challenging and speaking later Axel said, “It’s been difficult staying with Olly and Nico in the top three and I’ve been trying to jump as soon as possible when tacking and gybing to avoid the weed and keep going fast”. An interesting tactic certainly but he retains his second place overall so clearly it paid off for him.
The third race was Axel’s moment though with Nico was disqualified for an OCS, the race terminology for an ‘On Course Start’ which means he’d already been over the line when the start buzzer sounded, and so Axel monopolised on this to take first of Olly in second.
Olly has never been far behind in any of the races at this event and has often been leading races on the upwind reaches but he seems to be unable to hold his edge on the Frenchmen Parlier and Mazella on the downwind stretches.
Of course, the drama wasn’t limited to the top three racers today. Julien Kerneur has had an outstanding event having come straight off the back of a fourth place finish at GKA Kite-Surf World Tour event barely hours before the first race began here on day one and he’s currently sitting in fifth overall behind Florian Gruber. He’s fully recovered now from a badly broken leg last year at the Tarifa Strapless Pro but admitted that he’s been feeling the pace here in Fehmarn. “Today was super challenging, very strong and gusty, not easy for everyone and a tough day out” he said after race three.
The challenging conditions have also put the racers’ equipment to the test and Guy Bridge ended up breaking his kite in the first race of the day but managed to stay in the game thanks to a borrowed kite from his mum Steph – the manager of Team Bridge! The race crew was kept busy throughout the day with numerous heavy crashes happening across the course and subsequent rescues and the racers will most likely be looking forward to the lighter, steadier winds forecasted tomorrow on day three.
The plan for tomorrow is to complete six races with a first possible start at 12pm and it’s sure to be an action-packed day. Even with his disqualification from yesterday’s final race Nico still has a two point lead over Axel but it’s a slim one and Olly, who sits five points behind in third, will be looking to close that gap in what’s going to be a busy day on the course!