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HomesportSingapore kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder wraps up successful year with Youth Sailing World...

Singapore kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder wraps up successful year with Youth Sailing World Championships title

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 net 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 net 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 any more. 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 Sailing World Championships and followed up with a gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games in China in September.

On Dec 3, he was crowned the overall winner of the KiteFoil World Series after top finishes in Zhuhai, Austria and Italy.

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.”

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Maximilian, who trains in Croatia, plans to spend time with his family in Switzerland during the off-season. He will return to Singapore in end-February for a week and is looking forward to some home-cooked local food.

With the Paris Olympics in his sights, the youth and senior world champion remained coy about his medal hopes.

He said: “Most of the targets set are in training, and the ones for the Olympics will most likely be executing everything as prepared and discussed in training. I’m going to be doing the same routine that has worked so far.

“Remembering the privilege and responsibility to represent our nation at the Olympics will keep me working and competing with diligence and integrity, reflective of the tremendous support I enjoy from Singapore.”

In other events at the youth world championships, Singaporean windsurfer Elkan Oh finished 26th in the men’s iQFoil class while Russell Yom and Abigail Koh were 39th and 34th in the men’s and women’s one-person dinghy respectively.

The duo of Seth Low and Theodore Lau finished 29th in the men’s/mixed skiff class, while Faith Koy and Annika Chia were 20th in the women’s skiff class.

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