Watch out world, Asia is coming!

'Watch out World, Asia is coming' said a relieved Max Maeder, from the highest step of the podium at the 2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Championships, after a thrilling medal series earlier in the day, on the waters off the beach of Pattaya in Thailand. 

He had good reason to say so.  All three steps of the Men's podium were taken by young Asian sailors.  And while Singapore's Maeder has already been showing his strength over the past season, winning among others the Open European Championship and both the class' and World Sailing's Youth Worlds, for 15-years-old Qibin Huang from China and 17-years-old local hero Joseph Jonathan Weston, this was the first formal competition since the COVID 19 pandemic outbreak, over two years ago.

© Jirawat Srikong / IKA: All Asian and all youth podium at the 2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Championships

Maeder had won the previous two editions of the Asian Championship in 2018 and 2019, when he was only 12 and 13 years old respectively, while Huang was runner up in 2019.  It was obvious though that the level has been rising, and had the wind been a bit lighter, the order on the podium might have been different.

© Jirawat Srikong / IKA: 20 sailors from 8 countries and 3 continents at the 2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Championships

Huang was happy in the morning of the final series.  Having finished the opening series in 2nd place, he had qualified directly to the finals and needed to win twice to go away with the gold medal.  Although Maeder only needed one win to secure the title, Huang was optimistic.  "The wind is light, I will sail on my 23 sq meters kite and I'm faster than Max in these conditions.  I will manage to get the two wins I need"

© Jirawat Srikong / IKA: The 2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Championships was held off the Ambassador City resort in Pattaya

Racing started with a final race for all remaining sailors, followed by the semifinals which saw Bruno Lobo from Brazil and Weston make it to the finals.  Although the wind had picked up and the riders had downsized to 15 sq meters kites, Huang won the first race after Maeder collided with a plastic bag floating in the water and lost control of his kite for a few seconds.

In the second final race, Maeder had "the best start I have ever managed" and took the one win he needed to be crowned 2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Champion, leaving Huang with the silver medal.  Further back, Weston finished ahead of Lobo, making the whole podium all-youth and all-Asian.

© Jirawat Srikong / IKA: Women's podium at the 2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Championships

In the women's division, local star Benyapa Jantawan was crowned Women's 2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Champion, after winning the Women's Master's World Championship last season, while Korea's Soon Ho Kwon took the 2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Men's Master's title.

© Jirawat Srikong / IKA: South Korea's Soon Ho Kwon was crowned Master's 2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Champion

This was the first time that the Asia Pacific Championships were held, joining the Far East and Oceania in one region and the Middle East and Africa in another, after the IKA revised the allocation of countries to continental championships, in order to better reflect the geographical and cultural distribution of countries.  

© Jirawat Srikong / IKA: 2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Championships

IKA Class Manager Markus Schwendtner paid tribute to both the sailors and the organisers. “It has been a difficult couple of years but it is fantastic to see kiteboarding growing so strongly in Asia.  Many people have been working to help bring this exciting sport alive, and events like this celebrate their efforts, together with the talent, passion and enthusiasm of the riders who dedicate themselves to becoming the best kitefoiling athletes in the world.  Pattaya has been amazing, we look forward to coming back here in the future”

2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Championships - Men and U21
1 SGP Maximilian Maeder    
CHN Qibin Huang  
3    THA      Joseph Jonathan Weston  
2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Championships - Women
1 THA Benyapa Jantawan      
BRA Maria Do Socorro Reis  
3    THA    Tatsanee Phisil  
2022 Formula Kite NFDS Asia Pacific Championships - Masters
1 KOR Soon Ho Kwon      
THA Chainarong Khammee  
3    MAS    Daniel Leow  
Full results: