Throwing the ball way out there

Published on January 8th, 2020

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
When asked about their successful approach to winning the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda, New Zealand team leader Grant Dalton responded, “We had a saying: ‘We want to throw the ball out this time as far as we can and see if we can get to it’.”

Dalton knew that getting ahead early was paramount, and their immense experience recognized the difference between a realistic route and a Hail Mary pass. Same goes for the British Sailing Team.

At Tokyo 2020, they will most likely pass up the USA to become the most medaled country, but they have no quit in their cadence as they look toward Paris 2024. They too are throwing the ball way out there to see who will get it.

While the Sailing Program for Paris won’t be confirmed until near the end of 2020, the Brits are not waiting to develop their sailors for the new events. They were first to publically recruit for the Mixed Kiteboard event, the Mixed Two Person Keelboat Offshore event, and now for the new foiling equipment to be used in Men’s and Women’s Windsurfing.

At the RYA Youth National Championships, not unlike the U.S. Youth Championship or the Canadian Youth Championship, the Brits will include the latest Olympic discipline of windfoiling tentatively planned to make its debut in Paris.

To ensure that youth racing in the UK remains at the cutting edge of the sport, the RYA Youth Nationals will feature three foiling windsurfing fleets racing Starboard IQFoil boards. It follows the introduction of kitefoiling, another new Olympic discipline, at the 2019 regatta, the UK’s premier youth racing event.

“We are passionate about developing and retaining the best young racing sailors, and with the addition of kitefoiling and windfoiling in the Paris 2024 Olympics we felt it important to reflect those changes at the Youth Nationals,” said Mark Nicholls, the RYA’s Youth Racing Manager.

“By introducing foiling at this stage of the pathway we can encourage sailors to progress and feel comfortable competing in a safe and fun environment.”

While Canada has not yet listed the events for their 2020 event, the USA will have windsurfing fleets for the RS:X board and Techno 293 board, both a step behind the Starboard IQFoil board.

However, this also reflects the state of windsurfing in North America when compared to the Brits, which remains remarkable when windsurfing is the most affordable, most accessible, and arguably most fun way for a kid to go sailing.

Someday this continent will figure out that windsurfing needs to be more of a youth option…

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