How StFYC’s Daniela Moroz Won her 6th Kiting World Title
This story was originally published in the St. Francis Yacht Club’s Mainsheet publication; it is reprinted here with permission.
I arrived in Europe at the beginning of September to start my preparation for the Formula Kite World Championships, with six weeks to train. My priorities were to test out some new kites and build some muscle mass, as both were key to gaining back the speed I had been missing over the summer. I began working with Chris Rashley, who has joined my campaign as fulltime coach, and I brought in my good friend Nate Housberg as technical advisor for the next two phases of training.
Phase 1 was three weeks in Hyeres, France, dedicated to testing out my new kites and spending lots of time in the gym. Hyeres is one of my favorite places to kite because of the different conditions. In September you can ride in anything from five to 30 knots within the same week —the perfect place to test kites.
It was nice to be in a single place for so long (yes, three weeks in one place is a long time for me), and we developed an awesome routine. I went to the gym every morning to work out and then visited the incredible bakery across the street for coffee, croissants and baguettes on my way home. After breakfast I would meet with Chris to plan the sessions for the day, based on conditions. Once the wind picked up, we would head to the beach and get on the water.
Hyeres delivered incredible conditions, with several days of 25+ knots and big swell balanced with some days of completely flat water and barely enough wind to foil. We made the most of every day, and by the end of the three weeks I was extremely confident in my new kites and much faster than before.
Phase 2 was two weeks training at the regatta venue in Poetto Beach, just outside of Cagliari on Sardinia. I’ve been coming to Sardinia to race every year since 2018 (apart from 2020), and it’s become another one of my favorite venues. It’s a very technical spot with many different wind directions, and the offshore mistral is my favorite. The offshore wind can blow up to 30 knots, sweeping across the island and eventually spilling out over Poetto Beach. It’s not dissimilar to the conditions in San Francisco, except with flat water, no current and no shipping traffic. On the onshore days, a strong sea breeze picks up, bringing big swell with it. There are several other wind directions and sea states common this time of year, and the biggest reason I wanted to arrive early was to familiarize myself with these different types of days and practice riding in all conditions. It was for this reason and a few others that I decided to skip the European Championships, which were happening about a week before the Worlds. It was a bold move, but I believe it was the right call.
After two weeks at the regatta venue, I could not wait to get racing. I had never felt more ready to deliver my best performance. Despite being slightly disappointed with my results from the summer, I had no doubt that I was going to be more competitive than ever. I was really proud of the progress I had made in the weeks leading up to the Worlds, not only on the water, but off the water. I had been meeting with a sports psychologist to help me build a strong and confident mindset. I had been practicing mindfulness, meditation and visualization. I had been working out and felt super-fit. I felt so good and so ready in a way that I had never felt before.
And on October 11, it was finally time to race.
We started with three days of the opening qualifying series in which competitors are mixed in two fleets based on world ranking. We completed three races in strong onshore conditions on day 1, no racing on day 2 due to lack of wind, and one race on day 3. I was the only competitor, male or female, to win every race of this qualifying series, but my closest competition, Lauriane Nolot from France, was only a point behind.
On day 4, the top 25 sailors went into gold fleet, completing four races. It was a beautiful mistral day with 20-25 knots picking up to gusts of 30, extremely shifty and with flat water. It was the kind of day I had sailed in repeatedly during training, and I knew exactly what to do. After a disqualification due to being over early (UFD) in the first race, I won the following three races, and finished with a healthy lead of about 800 meters in the last race. This scoreline kept me in first, but only a couple points ahead of Lauriane, who was consistently finishing second. Day 4 brought more offshore wind, but extremely light and patchy. I started the day a bit slow but progressed throughout the four races. Going into the final race, I was one point ahead of Lauriane and needed to stay ahead to maintain my first-place advantage going into the last day of the regatta. I managed to do just that, and so only needed to win one race in the final series for the world title.
For the final day, onshore wind returned with some big chop. I was nervous but excited, and proud of how I had performed and progressed all week. It was time for the last little push. I was competing against Katie Dabson (GBR), Ellie Aldridge (GBR) and Lauriane Nolot (FRA) in the women’s final. While waiting for our start, the wind picked up a couple knots and the other women changed from 15m to 11m kites. I opted to stay on my 15m, knowing I should be able to match their speed upwind and then be faster downwind.
Off the start Lauriane took the lead; I was just to windward. As we approached the top mark, Lauriane crashed and I took the lead. From there I knew I just had to sail clean to win. On my 15m kite I quickly extended my lead on the downwind and by the end of the second lap I was 300 meters ahead in first place. When I rounded the last mark and reached across to the finish line, there was an overwhelming sensation of pride and joy unlike anything I had ever felt before. I immediately found Chris on his coach boat and as I sat down, I said, “I think we got the job done.”