I am writing this report as a sportkiter who has learned competition flying at the German championships. And yes, this will be a flashback to the past, with some hope that we can recover the glory of the old days and save sportkite competition flying. One question for me was: „Where are the Germans?“ In the late nineties and beginning of the noughties, Germany had a very active group of competition fliers. At some events this group comprised more than 100 competitors, divided in the classes of Dualline Individual Intermediate, Experienced, Master, Pair, Team and Multiline Individual. Here was the cradle of some very good kite fliers such as Jonas Seitz, Ralph Bergmeier and Marcel Mehler. At the time, I competed every year in Germany and I learned how to fly competitions, the hard way: You could say that I have learned a lot by losing a lot!
From the 4th to the 6th of September this year we assembled for another Eurocup at the French Northsea coast – the place where so many big kite competitions were held in the past. With a large beach when the tide is low and a competition field half under water at high tide; with a reputation for ballistic wind speeds, which is the greatest fear of many inland kite fliers.
After some years of struggle we had finally a proper Eurocup, with participants from a great selection of European countries. Russia as a new nation is now participating in different categories; the Italians with their frontman Guido Miochocci who holds seven European titles are strong in Multiline; Britain has just a small group consisting of only one team and one Individual kiter. Because of the growing interest for our sport in the Asian countries, the Eurocup officials decided to invite a group of Chinese sportkite fliers: Individual kiter Ming Ming and a team from Shanghai. Some European pilots do not even know that China organizes a team world cup at the big kite festival in Weifang every year.
And there was I, representing the Netherlands on my own, just like when I attended my first Eurocup in 2001. All guest sportkiters together did not even equal half of the host delegation. And with their judges and other officials, the French were clearly in the majority. Eurocup 2015 was to be a French party and just a few of the invited pilots could challenge them for the podium places.
Dunkerque is a perfect place for the Eurocup: an open beach, low buildings on the boulevard and just across the bridge a nice youth hostel as accommodation for all kite fliers and officials. Every nation had a box on the beach to store their kites. The weather and wind were perfect for the competition. For almost the entire three days we had wind from the same direction and with the same strength, quite a powerful one as well – not my kind of wind. It was quite easy to run the organised program, only lunch took more time than expected. Some restaurants were only a 20-minute-walk away from the competition fields. As we could not finish the whole Friday program, the rest was scheduled for the next day.
Mathieu Mayet likes a strong wind and 2015 had already been a good year for him with the victory in the French championships. So Mathieu found it quite easy to win the competition by a wide margin. I succeeded in getting ahead of the other French pilotes and won second place. This makes it a nice 1 to 5 „full house“, with 5th place in 2008, 4th place in 2007, 3th place in 2010, 2nd place in 2015 and 1st place in 2009. The winner from last year’s Eurocup was number three, Julien Lahyani. The non-French fliers closed the ranking with Brain Beesleyon at 6th, Ming Ming at 7th and Verzi Massimo at 8th place. Verzi was clearly not prepared for the strong wind and even borrowed my Nirvana 3E High Wind to fly his competition.
This class was a very easy win for the experienced fliers from Courant d’Air. Second came pair In et Out, with a nice surprise for the British pair Phoenix on third place. The standard in Dualline Pair is not very high at the moment, and Courant d’Air won with a gap of more than 11 points out of 100.
Start’Air did their routine without any mistakes and this made last year’s Eurocup winners unbeatable. Cerf Volant Folie showed a very impressive team effort with six people flying, but they could not make the jump to beat their colleagues from the French team. Again a British surprise from team Flame, with a third place. Red Alert, the Russian team, were not able to perform their routine in the high winds as they fly with a slightly strange, jazz-style music, and when the routine is not crisp it is very difficult to follow and to judge. The Russians ended in last place.
After I had beaten Guido Maiocchi in his home town and won, he was prepared for a good battle this time. And he had his revenge and achieved his 8th European title in beating me by just 0,4 point. Third place went to a new Italian flier called Gerbino, who stole the show with a flic flac and by flying his Revolution kite backwards. Marjorie Truchet was the French hope for victory and though she came best in precision she lost too many points in her ballet.
Now Air is the most experienced pair and it was plain that they would win. Their flying style is hard and precise and it almost looked as if two robots were flying the Revs.
Out of the pairs two teams can be combined. This is not really a competition were existing teams that have been working together for years compete in one class. It is just a shame that all the Revolution teams are unwilling to take part and to support the sport by flying in competitions. You can see that the dualline team’s flying is at a far higher level than the multiline team’s.
For me the Eurocup was a big challenge. We do not have any contests in the BeNeLux countries, so we do not get any competition practise. This was my first Eurocup in Multiline, and my first competition in Dualline after my comeback. And there were quite a lot of ingredients for a difficult Eurocup: only to be a kitefliers with a wildcard without the experience of a national championshop, flying the first competition in two categories, flying in high wind (which I really do not like) and only non-Dutch judges.
In the end I came second in the Dualline Individual class and missed the first place in Multiline Individual only just! I was so pleased, in fact very pleased with these results.
It seems that I am, like the Italian head-judge Giancarlo Galli told me,“Europe’s best allround sportkiteflier“.
I hope reading this report and seeing me fly the competition ballet at the festival will inspire the German kitefliers to join in again and win the sportkite competitions, like they did in the past.