African Kite Racing Championships in Soma Bay 2014 Results

The 2014 African Kite Racing Championship, one of the world’s largest kitesurfing competitions, has returned to the Red Sea at 7Bft Kite House in Soma Bay, Egypt. Kitesurfers from around the world, including top-ranked sailors and emerging young talent have made their way to Egypt to compete for the 20,000 Euro prize from June 24-28, 2014. They’ll be embarking on a challenge to hunt down the German world champion, Florian Gruber in his efforts to defend his title in 2014.

 African Kite Racing Championships in Soma Bay 2014

After narrowly missing last year’s title in Soma Bay, Florian Gruber went on to win 3 world championships in China and Australia. As number one in the world, Gruber’s competitors are keen to take his ranking away from him. Most notably is Italy’s Riccardo Leccese who placed fourth in last year’s championship.

We will be updating this article with the latest competition results and news from Soma Bay on a daily basis. As always, we won’t be sending out daily emails regarding the event, so remember to refer back to this page each day, or follow us on FacebookTwitter or Google+ to keep up to date with this world championship kitesurfing event.

Kite Africans 2014 The Movie: Complete Event Summary

African Kite Racing Championships Daily Updates

Jump to: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Finals & Results

Day 1 (24 June)

The first day of the African Kite Championship 2014 kicked off with an exciting start at 7Bft Kite House in Soma Bay. In the men’s division, German world champion Florian Gruber faced off with his toughest competitor Riccardo Leccese. While in the women’s division, UK’s Steph Bridge, last year’s contending champion, raced to defend her title against Russia’s emerging talent Elena Kalinina.

African Kite Racing Championships Soma Bay 2014

Leccese and Kalinina, who both came 4th in last year’s African Kite Championship in Soma Bay, have made stunning comebacks on their first day of racing. Leccese dominated the first day placing first in all 4 rounds, followed closely by Gruber in second place. Likewise, Kalinina grabbed first place throughout the day with Steph Bridge close on her tail.

The riders each had the following to say:

Florian Gruber (Germany)

“We finished the first race day and I am currently runner-up, not far away from Ricardo. It is possible to beat him. The next few days will be a tight race for the title.”

Florian Gruber African Kite Racing Championships Soma Bay 2014

Riccardo Leccese (Italy)

“With the champ, Florian ‘the flow’, I have a good relation outside the water but in the water we are warriors. If you are a fish you have to have a shark in your tank, otherwise you sleep. Florian is my shark and I am his, we are always battling for the first position. I like that healthy rivalry. I have been training a lot, I am really committed to do well this year, I won 4 rounds today and I am fully prepared.”

Riccardo Leccese African Kite Racing Championships Soma Bay 2014

Steph Bridge (United Kingdom)

“I did not have such a great race day but hopefully tomorrow I will find some new speed and some news feeling in my head to continue to perform like last year.”

Steph Bridge African Kite Racing Championships Soma Bay 2014

Jump to: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Finals & Results

Day 2 (25 June)

The African Kite Race Championship 2014 stayed true-to-form on the second race day at 7Bft Kite House in Soma Bay with more exciting competition between some of the world’s top kite racers.

African Kite Racing Championships Soma Bay 2014 Day 2

The winds were strong again and gave the kiters the chance to really show off their skills. Following the first day’s races, indisputably dominated by Riccardo Leccese and Elena Kalinina, Florian Gruber and Steph Bridge, their top competitors, plotted their strategy for Day 2. Everyone’s been watching their fellow kiters’ strategies and today they came well prepared to match them.

Leccese came in first in every race on day 2, leaving him with a perfect score. While confident in his skill, he knows Gruber is serious about winning this championship and would not make it an easy race today. Florian Gruber is currently holding second place but is confident that with 3 days to go in Soma Bay he is still primed to reach his goal.

Riccardo Leccese (Italy)

“Today was another amazing day for me. Usually your competitors always watch what you do so you have to compensate your strategy. Today I noticed they were playing my game and it was working. I’ve been training and I was committed to what I had to do today so I changed my game as well. It worked. Catching up from behind is really important for me and it builds my confidence.”

Riccardo Leccese African Kite Racing Championships Soma Bay 2014 Day 2

Florian Gruber (Germany)

“The first 2 days are over and I am currently on a solid second rank. This is super as it was my overall goal to occupy at least one of the first three places. Now we will see if I can attack Riccardo who is currently first, I am going into doing some fine-tuning and it will be a tough couple of days ahead for me.”

Likewise, Kalinina from Russia was pleased with today’s results. After a successful morning, she briefly fell behind only to emerge victorious in the final race and is enjoying the rivalry with last year’s defending champion, Steph Bridge, who does not deny that Kalinina is a tough and worthy competitor.

Elena Kalinina (Russia)

“Today were good races for me. I have a great fight with another girl from England, Steph Bridge, and it was good because we were racing together.”

Steph Bridge (United Kingdom)

“For me I got 2 better results and 2 OK results against Elena the Russian girl who seems to be kicking my butt here in this event and I think we are fighting harder and its getting tougher.”

This year’s top riders are familiar with Soma Bay’s kite conditions which provided them with an amazing race in 2013. It seems tomorrow will take an interesting turn as the winds will become lighter and the racers will have to change their strategy once again, a challenge they are looking forward to.

Video Update: Day 2

“The forecast says tomorrow and the day after tomorrow the winds will be lighter. I train a lot on such conditions so I hope it will be a good race for me.” says Kalinina.

Leccese: “When I left Egypt last year I said I had to come back to this amazing place because the conditions were epic. Last year there were some strong wind and some light wind days. I think that is very important for the competitors. I hope to run through all the conditions. I will prepare my formula to keep leading.”

Jump to: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Finals & Results

Day 3 (26 June)

The third day of the 2014 African Kite Racing Championship saw the possible come-back of Florian Gruber and offered some surprising twists, proving this championship is still any man’s game.

African Kite Racing Championships Soma Bay 2014 Day 3

Florian Gruber was determined to reclaim the course and grabbed first place in two of Day 3′s races. Riccardo Leccese was not far behind, placing first in the third race of the day. Slowly sneaking up on Gruber and Leccese is emerging young talent Oliver Bridge, son of last year’s defending champion Steph Bridge. Oliver Bridge landed in third by the end of Day 2 and surprised everyone by effortlessly winning the second race of Day 3.

In the women’s division, Elena Kalinina began to lag behind Steph Bridge who dominated the day, winning three out of four races. After some serious defeats by Kalinina earlier in the week, it seemed Bridge was about to accept her fate of placing second to Kalinina, but with two race days left to go, she clearly isn’t giving up this championship without a fight.

Day 3 was risky from the start as Gruber had fallen ill and Leccese decided to make some unconventional choices with his kites, opting for an 8 meter kite which proves to be more challenging on lighter wind days. Still, both found themselves thriving in these unfavourable conditions.

Video Update: Day 3

The riders had the following to say after today’s racing…

Florian Gruber (Germany)

“The 3rd day of the African Championships had not started so well, I had a bit of an ear- and headache but as soon as I got myself on the water I was fine. I won twice, which gives me a push for tomorrow and I came third another 2 times. I know that I can be on top of the race and will put even more wood on the fire tomorrow.”

Riccardo Leccese (Italy)

“In the third race, all my other competitors were on a 10 meter and I finished neck and neck with Florian. That means even if I’m underpowered I can keep the rhythm and I don’t back off: I always push to the limit.”

Midway through the race, it is clear there is still a lot of tough competition between these riders and the championship title. Adding another twist to the week’s events is the introduction of the TwinTip:Racing challenges on Day 4.

It was an eventful race day in Soma Bay and after really pushing to prove themselves on the course, the riders are happy to round the day off with some rest and relaxation.

“I’m looking forward to going back to The Breakers. A swim in the pool would be great and to sit around the bar” says Riccardo Leccese.

Jump to: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Finals & Results

Day 4 (27 June)

The African Kite Race Championships 2014 saw some dramatic moments on Day 4 at 7Bft Kite House in Soma Bay as only two more race days remained. The competition is getting tougher as Florian Gruber still has a chance to defeat Riccardo Leccese, but Leccese’s drive to win is only getting stronger.

African Kite Racing Championships Soma Bay 2014 Day 4

Riccardo Leccese (Italy)

“Since I came here I had the podium on my mind. I want to win this competition. Last year I was injured and I have been getting ready for this. I have been telling to myself that this year is my year. I haven’t backed off, I am pushing it every day and it has not been easy but 11 bullets on the score make me feel that I can win this competition. I have good scores and tomorrow I will make it harder for my opponents so I think I can win this and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

Florian Gruber (Germany)

“Ricky has gained a big lead in the first 2 days, it is hard to catch up with him now, but not impossible. I will give it a 100 % and if he makes a couple of mistakes, everything is possible. If he presents a solid race then I have to accept the 2nd rank and that one I will not give away.”

In the men’s division, the three main players – Leccese, Gruber and Oliver Bridge – are still in the lead. In the women’s division, Elena Kalinina is ranking first just above Steph Bridge. None of these kiters are ready to let their competitors take their place on the podium on the final day and are using every ounce of skill to make sure of that.

Steph Bridge (United Kingdom)

“I got beaten today in all of the races by Elena who was on her 11 meter kite which seems to be pretty quick in these winds. However, we still got a final day tomorrow which is gonna see slightly lighter winds and it’s the medal races, anything can happen and for sure I will give it 110 percent.”

The morning rounds ended with a dramatic scene when several kiters crashed early in the race, including Leccese, who made a miraculous recovery and raced to finish second, just behind Gruber taking first.

Gruber: “The 4th day today went well, I am happy that I could win 2 races. At the second race there was a big crash at the start but I got out of this and could catch a lead. That gives me a lot of motivation for tomorrow, tomorrow is the last day and all the 10 top racers get together. My 2 wins give me a huge push. I will see how I can grill Ricky and will give my best.”

The UK’s Oliver Bridge, at just 16 years old, competed in the 2013 championship in Soma Bay and has since become a contender for races around the world. After ranking 23rd in last year’s race, he’s currently close on Gruber’s tail in third place.

Oliver Bridge: “Last year in the African Kite Championships I was still quite young and not very experienced. After that I did a lot of training and practicing a lot and in July I won the Men’s European Championships which I was very happy with, later that year I kept on training a lot in Hainan for the World Championships so I came 4th which I was very happy with too, and also managed to win the Youth World Championships. For this year, hopefully, I am gonna be able to win the World Championships in Turkey in August.”

The top kiters in 2014 are already very familiar with Egypt as a prime kitesurfing destination and Soma Bay as a perfect venue. With the participation and sponsorship of the Egyptian Sailing and Waterski Federation for the African Kite Race Championships 2014, everyone is looking to improve sports tourism in Egypt through this wonderful collaborative effort.

Video Update: Day 4

Commander Hassan Luxor / Chairman of Jury Committee / Egypt Sailing and Waterski Federation: “The area and the wind make the competition – without wind, no competition. The Egypt Sailing and Waterski Federation has chosen this place and the organizing committee (IKA) has also chosen this place because it is wonderful for the participants to come here. The Federation is helping very much with all our ability, all our efforts, all our facilities.”

Jump to: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Finals & Results

Day 5 (28 June): Final Results

The African Kite Race Championship 2014 began its fifth and final day with one last twist: with a significant drop in wind, the kiters seized their last opportunity to defeat their top rivals with a new challenge.

Awards Ceremony African Kite Racing Championships Soma Bay 2014 Day 5

It had been a tough four days between German world champion Florian Gruber and his rival Riccardo Leccese. Leccese’s determination to take the title from Florian Gruber was his drive in this competition and on Day 5 he achieved his goal.

Riccardo Leccese (Italy)

“We just finished the African Championships and I am stoked I won the event, I can’t be more happy than I am right now. This event was very important for me and for my sponsors because it was the first event of the year where we are using the new gear. Soma Bay gave us the best conditions because we went through all the sizes and all the situations, like pretty strong and gusty winds and on the last day on the finals, we got pretty light wind, so we went through all the sizes and everybody had the chance to ride in their conditions and I managed to keep my head clear, the excitement down and I am pretty stoke that my scores were almost pretty clean all the way, 11 bullets, and then I was consistently second and now I am happy that I got the title and hopefully good things are coming from now.”

Riccardo Leccese African Kite Racing Championships Soma Bay 2014 Day 5

Florian Gruber (Germany)

“Today was the last day, and it was going great for me. I won the first race and in the second race I came 4th, my final result is runner-up, I am super happy with that, now we are going to the award ceremony and straight afterwards I will start training for the next races. I had a great time here.”

In the women’s division, Steph Bridge found herself thriving in the light wind conditions of Day 5 and overtook Elena Kalinina in both medal races. Overall, the week’s challenges and conditions proved to be in Kalinina’s favor and she defeated seasoned pro Steph Bridge placing first.

Elena Kalinina (Russia)

“The African Championships are finished now, it was a really good competition. We had a lot of good races. I was racing with Steph Bridge and Aga from Poland and we were always fighting but finally I won. I am very happy about this and I wish that next year we will have this competition in the same place here.”

Elena Kalinina African Kite Racing Championships Soma Bay 2014 Day 5

Steph Bridge (UK)

“After five days of racing we finished today with two medal races. The girls were in the platinum fleet. I was really happy because the wind was about 7 knots. I was on a tube kite and won the first race and I got second in the second medal race. That brought me closer to Elena but it wasn’t enough to beat her so I’m overall second with Aga in third. To be honest it’s been the most fantastic event because we’ve had a mixture of wind and light wind so it’s been really good training for the world championship.”

Oliver Bridge, who came in 23rd in 2013, made an amazing comeback in 2014 and held a steady 3rd place for a majority of the week. However, the light winds did not favor Bridge on the final day. Spain’s Alejandro Climent Hernandez had been close on Bridge’s tail and finally overtook him and landed himself in the third rank overall.

Alejandro Climent Hernandez (Spain)

“I am 5th in the world ranking, I worked really hard towards this event, I finished third in the African Kite Championships and I am very happy about that because in the first days I did not feel so well and came on the 5th or 6th position and then I did all my best to take the podium.”

Oliver Bridge (UK)

“Today we had some light winds so we were using big kites. I had some OK results. I got one 5th place and one 7th place. It wasn’t too good for my ranking, I dropped down on to 4th in the overall ranking, I was not really able to keep up with the guys on the big foil kites so I got pushed down to the 4th place.”

It has been an exciting week in Soma Bay as The Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge, 7Bft Kite House, the IKA and the Egyptian Sailing and Water Ski Federation came together to take advantage of the incomparable kiting conditions of Egypt and the world-renowned skill of some of the world’s top kiters to create an amazing week of heavy competition and pave the way to the World Cup final.

Markus Schwendtner (IKA)

“It’s the second time we are in Soma Bay for the African Championships. It has been a fantastic event. Four days full of wind, the last day was unfortunately a little bit light but it was good racing: the top riders in the world are here. Everyone was very excited and everyone wants to come back. This year we have a very nice event together with the Egyptian Sailing and Water Ski Federation and again we had great support from Soma Bay. Logistics, boats, everything worked out well.”

Stefan Reichl (GM The Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge)

“Five days of racing are now over and we consider this as a really successful week for the racers, for Soma Bay and for sure Egypt. There was a lot of wind and it was a lot of fun and I think this is the most important part for all. I want to say thank you to the Egyptian Sailing Federation, Tourism Ministry, Ministry of Youth and Sports, and for sure to 7Bft Kite House and The Breakers for hosting the event and to all the riders. We will have the prize ceremony tonight and we are looking forward, with the band and the DJ, to have a nice evening together.”

Video Update: Finals & Competition Wrap Up

Soma Bay: One of the World’s Best Kite Spots

At Soma Bay, the best elements of the sea and desert converge at 7Bft Kite House’s world-famous kite spot. Not only naturally beautiful, the spot offers flat-water conditions and side-shore and off-shore winds perfect for world-class kitesurfing events. Soma Bay’s five resort hotels, luxury spa, championship golf course, and vast house reef are what define it as an ultimately relaxing and exciting destination.

Organizers & Patronage

Organized by the Egypt Sailing and Waterski Federation and the International Kiteboarding Association, chaired by the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Formula Kite Class and the TwinTip:Racing invite kiteboarders to take part in the 2014 Formula Kite Course Racing African Championships under specified conditions laid down by the International Kiteboarding Class Association in co-operation with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).

If you’re lucky enough to be in Soma Bay at the African Kite Racing Championships, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below… Let us know what you think of the event so far and who you think is going to dominate.

Images: © Copyright Soma Bay, SeaStar & Icarus Sailing Media

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