Colourful kite parachutes in the sky, boards floating above the water and breakneck speeds - the Olympic class Formula Kite is a real eye-catcher on the water with its International German Championship at the Travemünder Woche. Jan Vöster, who is currently in second place, is flying right at the front. The 18-year-old decided early on "I want to fly" and switched to kite-foiling with an Olympic course.
Jan Vöster from Neuenburg am Rhein inherited his fascination for water sports from his father, who is a passionate windsurfer and kitesurfer himself and has competed in windsurfing regattas for several years. "I have always felt at home in the water. I usually spent my family holidays - often on Lake Como or in Brittany - in a wetsuit. Kiting fascinated me early on, but I had to be patient with it. My father said: 'When you weigh 30 kilos, you can start'. In 2016, the time had finally come: I was heavy enough. Before that, I was already flying the kite on the beach, and my father held me down so I wouldn't take off," says up-and-coming kiter Jan Vöster.
The 18-year-old quickly realised while kiting: "I want to fly." In 2018, he therefore switched to foiling in the Formula Kite class. A year later, he competed in his first regattas. Since then, the Baden-Württemberg native has been "making great strides" in kiting. He regularly achieves good placements in the top ten with his kite. At the Youth Worlds in The Hague/Netherlands, he came sixth at the beginning of July. Vöster's long-term goal is clear: the Olympic Games, preferably in Los Angeles in 2028. In October, however, the kitesurfer will first compete in the elite world championships to gain further experience - and next year he will take his school-leaving exams. After that, the athlete from the Württemberg Yacht Club (WYC) wants to concentrate fully on his kiteboarding career. "What excites me about kiting is the play with wind and water. The flying, jumping and speed are just great. I feel completely free when kiting," he explains.
For a long time, his father Tobias was mental coach, caddy, trainer, training partner and sponsor all in one. In the meantime, Jan Vöster trains with an association coach. "I have only been training professionally since this season. Before that I also trained specifically, but now in the training group I benefit from match races, for example," Vöster says. He is supported in his athletic training by the DSV. In addition, there is running training three times a week and strength training five to six times a week in the gym. The goal is to build up basic strength, but also to gain mass, because body weight plays an important role in kite-flying. If you want to fly at the front, you should weigh at least 85 to 90 kilograms and even more.
In recent weeks, Jan Vöster has been travelling a lot to kite events abroad. Mallorca, Hyères in the south of France, the U21 World Championships in Sardinia and the Youth Worlds in The Hague were his stops. When he is at home, he always keeps an eye on the wind and goes kiting on Lake Biel or Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland when the forecast is good. In Travemünde, Vöster is kiting for the very first time: "The location is great, even if it's a bit tricky when you go out on the water here."
Vöster's fellow competitor Alexander Ehlen from France, who starts for the Yacht Club Monaco, is also making his Travemünde debut. He expresses his enthusiasm in the same way as Vöster, who is three years younger. "What I like about kite-foiling is the feeling of freedom and the speed. With speeds of around 35 knots, our discipline is probably one of the fastest on the water," says the 21-year-old, who lives in Hyères in southern France. Ehlen originally comes from sailing, has sailed in the Nacra 15 and J/70 classes and was French champion on the Hobie catamaran. At the age of 16, he switched from the boat to the kite board and shortly afterwards started in his first races. In Lübeck Bay, he kitesurfed for the first time. "It is a beautiful destination and a good combination of sailing event and festival," says the professional kiter, who is still hoping for a starting place for the Olympic Games in his home area of Marseille and is currently clearly ahead in Travemünde.