SINGAPORE – Not even a wayward plastic bag could stop Singaporean kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder from wrapping up a brilliant 2023 season with his third successive title at the Youth Sailing World Championships on Dec 15.
The hiccup, which caused the world No. 6 to crash and finish 13th in his last of 14 races, proved to be a minor blip as he topped the charts with 13 race wins for a perfect 11 nett point score to beat China’s world No. 4 Huang Qibin (23) and second-ranked Italian Riccardo Pianosi (34). Competitors are allowed to drop three of their worst race results for their nett scores.
The 19-strong fleet was initially expected to compete in 18 races in Buzios, Brazil, but the competition was cut short due to strong winds on the fifth and final day.
Maximilian, 17, told The Sunday Times: “At the end I caught some bad luck by crashing because of catching a plastic bag on my hydrofoil (the underwater wing).
“At times, I committed technical mistakes under intense pressure. It may not look like it on the surface as I was able to deliver a sequence of wins, but those were harder fought and sometimes tighter than I would have liked.”
While Maximilian already has a senior world title to his name, he noted that the level of competition at a youth-level is no less intense.
He said: “Making it to the podium in a youth worlds is not a walk in the park these days, even for an elite world champion! On the podium beside me was the reigning senior Asian champion (Huang) and the current senior European champion (Pianosi).
“They are all young riders who have beaten older competitors and are full of burning ambition. Not many older athletes beat any of these guys on any day anymore. It is a sport of extremely dedicated young professionals at the top of their game.”
And the teenager has done just that in 2023 as he enjoyed a successful campaign.
He kicked off a flying season with a World Cup Series title in April, before winning the Formula Kite Youth World Championships in July. One month later, he claimed his first senior world title at the Formula Kite World Championships and followed up with a gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games in September.
On Dec 3, he was crowned the overall winner of the KiteFoil World Series after top finishes in Zhuhai and two other legs in Austria and Italy to take his points tally to 1,100.
Maximilian said: “We are of course always critical on how we can improve but that doesn’t take away from how pleased we are that things worked out well.
“The Brazil event has ended in a way that couldn’t be more satisfying. I value consistency very highly and to be able to win against such strong competition again gives me a very happy feeling of accomplishment.”