HFPT France 2018 wrap-up

HydroFoil Pro Tour 2018 - Festikite

Guy Bridge gets the win and Brits push for the podium but Parlier isn’t past his best

 

HydroFoil Pro Tour 2018 - Festikite

 

Word: Connor Bainbridge / HFPR

Images: Cristophe Ruiz

The Hydrofoil Pro Tour visited the stunning French Riviera city of Montpellier last month hoping for some of the renowned Mediterranean mistral winds at the Festikite festival! Riders arrived to a strong offshore 40 knots which gave everyone a good opportunity to blow out the cobwebs after a long break from competing since the previous pro tour event in La Ventana, Mexico. 

However, by the time practice race day came around the trade thermal winds were back with eight knots of onshore wind in high speed-friendly flat water. With six practice races in the bag, all the riders had a great opportunity to tune up their biggest kites for what looked like it was to be a sub 10 knot regatta. With both production F-One Diablo V4s and the new Flysurfer Sonic Races making an appearance around the course (as well as a couple of prototype Ozones) the practice races saw the majority of the fleet lining up, eager to take on the top guys on the latest gear. 

 

HydroFoil Pro Tour 2018 - Festikite

Tightly packed action as the event kicks off / Image: Cristophe Ruiz

With the forecast for day one looking much the same as the practice day, the organisers set up an 11am riders briefing ready for the renowned Festikite long distance race and subsequent races to follow. The racing kicked off at 2pm across a 15 mile leg burning triangle course that was pegged to be a 40 minute race but it was being completed in an astonishing 25 minutes by the faster riders! 

From the off, the British riders were occupying the front positions in what seemed like it would be a continuation of what we saw in La Ventana where Olly and Guy Bridge were seemingly immovable from the podium positions. F-One’s latest Team Rider, Connor Bainbridge, lead the first race around the first two marks with the Bridge brothers in hot pursuit but, in what would be the trend for the event, Flysurfer’s Guy Bridge showed his unrivalled speed to take the win passing five riders in the final 200 metres of the race. 

 

HydroFoil Pro Tour 2018 - Guy Bridge

Guy continues his solid 2018 season so far / Image: Cristophe Ruiz

After another three races to round out the day it was British domination going into day two with Guy Bridge, Olly Bridge and Connor Bainbridge holding the top three positions. Points were incredibly close across the top 10 though and everything was still to play for. 

Day two followed much the same pattern as day one, with riders waiting for the promise of a light thermal breeze which eventually came in at 1pm at 6-8 knots. After a slow start to his regatta, Flysurfer’s Theo De Ramecourts cut through the fleet counting two first place finishes and a third among his finishing positions. Nico Parlier then began to find his groove after a winter of little training and that meant that the top 10 began to get even closer on points. No one was making any mistakes and races were often finishing in a final dash for the line across the last few metres.

 

HydroFoil Pro Tour 2018 - Theo de Ramecourt

Theo finds his feet / Image: Cristophe Ruiz

With a poor forecast for the final day of racing, the tension was building going into day three as this was when the points really had be notched up. The fleet was split into gold and silver for the first time (everyone had been racing in one large fleet up to that point) with six races planned and all the rider within the top 10 were to be in with the chance of a medal due to how tight the point difference was between them. This combined with the shorter courses of 8-10 minutes planned by the race committee was a recipe for some very exciting action and the riders didn’t disappoint. 

Four races would be completed that day but they were all won by a different rider from among the top five and no-one was giving any quarter. Tight as it was though, the cool and collected Guy Bridge showed his superiority over the fleet posting a three second place finishes and a single race win to secure the event victory. 

 

HydroFoil Pro Tour 2018 - Festikite

Full-tilt from the off! / Images Cristophe Ruiz

Nico Parlier jumped into second overall with Olly Bridge having to settle for third after making a critical error in race 11 when he rounded the first mark badly. Connor Bainbridge and Theo De Ramecourt took fourth and fifth respectively. Both riders had pushed for a medal throughout the whole event and had never given the Bridges or Parlier any letup so you can be sure to see them both back and hungry for more going at the next event.

The women’s fleet saw the return of serial world champion Steph Bridge (mother of Olly and Guy) who dominated the week despite tough competition from both Alexia Fancelli and Claire Durand. Steph showed that experience leading a fleet should never be underestimated and her resounding victory came after she notched up yet another win at the Red Bull Ragnarok in April – her third to date!

All the riders will now be focused in on the HFPT stop at the prestigious San Francisco Yacht Clubs which kicks off in just one week from now. There we’re sure to see a different set of yet more challenging conditions with all the competitors hungry to better their results in such an iconic venue.

Stay tuned for that!

 

MEN’S RESULTS

1: Guy Bridge (UK) 

2: Nico Parlier (FRA)

3: Olly Bridge (UK)

4: Connor Bainbridge (UK)

5: Theo Ramacourt (FRA)

 

WOMEN’S RESULTS

1: Steph Bridge (UK)

2: Alexia Fancelli (FRA)

3: Claire Durand (FRA)

 

Find more info at www.hydrofoilprotour.com

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