Foiled by Fish

Chinese rider Wan Li came out on top of the first day of racing in the women’s fleet at the Formula Kite Asia & Oceania Championships today in Shenzhen, China. After two days of delay, the breeze kicked in nicely for six heats for the women.

Fast out of the blocks was Jingyue Chen, the rider whose 7th place at the World Championships qualified China for the Olympic Games. But while Chen has tended to be the top international performer from her country, others in the Chinese squad are looking very strong.

132977000001404004 zc v1 1700824764179 internet 2023 11 24 fk aoc d3 313 rh© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Riding high is Wan Li as she chases down Chenxue Liu in Race 6

Chen won the first two races and followed up with a second place in the third heat behind Julia Damasiewicz of Poland. With four races completed in the morning session, after a quick lunch break it was back out for two more heats and fortunes turned against Chen and swung in favour of her teammate Li who dominated the afternoon session.

Despite recording some lacklustre finishes of 6 and 5, Chen was able to laugh at her misfortune: “The fish left me alone in the morning but they were out to get me this afternoon. I kept on running into them and I kept on crashing.”

132977000001404004 zc v1 1700824802747 internet 2023 11 24 fk aoc d3 303 rh© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Julia Damasiewicz (right) pushing hard to match the Chinese riders

Gone fishing

Shenshan Bay is famous for its fish and the area is dotted with fishing villages. Chen thinks there is more work to be done by the fishermen. Catch more fish please! “I ran into more fish in the sea than I have had fish for dinner,” she said, promising that she would be eating fish for dinner this evening.

The warm breeze was pulsing from 10 knots to at times over 20 knots, making kite selection a constant headache for riders and their busy caddies on the broad, sandy beach.. Damasiewicz enjoyed the moment when she changed down to her 11 square metre while the majority were still hanging on to their larger 15 sqm kites.

“That was my best moment of the day because the wind was getting really strong at that point and I was able to push really hard on the downwind,” said the Polish rider. “I feel really comfortable pushing hard and I think not all of the girls are able to do that.”

132977000001404004 zc v1 1700824834642 internet 2023 11 24 fk aoc d3 245 rh© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Qibin Huang with windward advantage over Max Maeder (foreground)

Bullets for Maeder, Huang and Dolenc

Max Maeder is so used to putting his 23 square metre kite in the air after a light-wind season in Europe, it was almost instinctive that he hoisted it into the sky this morning. Thirty seconds later the big kite was back on the sand, soon to be replaced by a more manageable 15 sqm as the breeze continued to build.

Maeder’s kite selections worked out well enough for the Singaporean as he went on to win four of the six heats for the men today. Qibin Huang took the winner’s gun in Race 6 when the tall teenager from China was early to switch up to the 23 sqm monster kite as the afternoon breeze started to fade.

While Huang rounded the windward mark in just seventh place, his greater horsepower pulled him along at the same speed as those on the 15 sqm but much deeper towards the bottom mark and he was up to first place by the leeward turn. Even though he dropped back to second at the top of the course again, Huang’s big kite hauled him back into the lead before the finish.

132977000001404004 zc v1 1700824865648 internet 2023 11 24 fk aoc d3 270 rh© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Joseph Jonathan Weston showing what a Thai fighter can do

Martin Dolenc’s scores bounced all over the place earlier in the session before the Croatian came good at the end of the afternoon to score a race win ahead of his training partner Maeder. This lifts Dolenc to fourth overall but still 7 points adrift of one of the most consistent performers of the day, China’s Haoran Zhang in third place overall.

Sitting in fifth place is Denis Taradin who admitted to being every bit as exhausted as he looked. The rider from Cyprus is little more than two weeks in recovery after a nasty injury to his lower leg in a crash while training in Tarifa, Spain, earlier in the month. “The stamina is not there, and when you hit a fish you need to hold the board firm with your feet otherwise you crash, and I had plenty of crashes today,” he smiled grimly.

132977000001404004 zc v1 1700824885457 internet 2023 11 24 fk aoc d3 269 rh© IKA media/ Robert Hajduk: Denis Taradin pushing himself to exhaustion

On equal points with the big Cypriot is the younger and smaller Thai rider, Joseph Jonathan Weston who is proving he can hang with the big names from Europe. This regatta is an excellent opportunity for the best Asians to compare their pace and skills with the regulars on the international circuit.

Good wind is forecast again for Saturday with another six heats scheduled for the men and women.. The race is on to see who will make it into Sunday’s finale, the 10-rider Medal Series.




Maximilian Maeder


5.0 points


Qibin Huang


10.0 points


Haoran Zhang


15.0 points



Wan Li


8.0 points


Jingyue Chen


12.0 points


Julia Damasiewicz


15.0 points