From Foiling Board to Foiling Boat
Published on August 29th, 2021
by Michelle Slade, St. Francis Sailing Foundation
Inspired by her employer SailGP, Daniela Moroz, 4-time World Kite Foil Champion, and 2-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, has been learning the Waszp, a one design foiler conceived in 2010 and put into production in June 2016 by Andrew McDougall, designer of the Mach 2 foiling Moth.
“In order to do any role on SailGP’s F50 well, you have to know what the other roles require of you – the flight controller needs to know what the wing trimmer and helm are trying to do, in order to do his job well,” Moroz explained. “The best way to understand what each role requires is to do all of them. It turns out that the Waszp and Moth are the best boats to get that experience.”
Moroz recruited St Francis Yacht Club junior sailor Hoel Menard to help her out. Menard, a 29er sailor with plenty of Waszp experience and a RIB at his disposal, was well set up to coach Moroz. That his student is a noted world champion did not faze the 18-year-old.
“From my sailing experience in the Waszp, I felt like I had the experience to train her,” Menard said. “I have spent a lot of time helping St Francis Yacht Club members get up to speed when they got their boats. When you’re teaching someone a new skill, the question is how fast can they get the new skill and figure out how it all works, especially someone who comes from kiting and not necessarily a traditional sailing background.”
Now, the Waszp is not an easy boat to learn by any means, as Molly Carapiet, 5-time All-American sailor at Yale University, and past Olympic aspirant in the 470, Europe Dinghy, and 49erFX, can attest. Carapiet, a StFYC member and StFSF board member, had wanted to learn how to foil for a few years and the Waszp seemed like the most approachable boat. The pandemic offered up the perfect time to buy one, and a way to get off Zoom and back out on the water.
“Learning to sail the Waszp has been extraordinarily challenging and fun, and it is an amazing and freeing feeling to be flying just above the water,” Carapiet described. “Unfortunately, at this point, that feeling is often short lived and followed by me being flung into the water like a rag doll and swimming back to the boat!”
Moroz’ kite foiling background was a huge plus as she began her week of Waszp training. The first two days Menard focused on teaching Moroz to understand how the balance of the boat works.
“We worked on basic stuff like, when I pull on the mainsheet at this moment, what does that do? If I hike out here, what does the boat do, and so on,” Menard explained.
Day 3 and 4 focused on getting up on the foils and maintaining while trying to go in a straight line in either direction for a while, with the goal to eventually sail upwind and downwind.
“We tried to find similarities between kiting and the Waszp so that Daniela would understand more efficiently,” Menard said. “The Waszp is different to kiting because the boat will self-regulate, so you don’t have to care how high you fly when you fly etc.
“The foiling is a system on its own, so it is about figuring out when the boat does take off how to keep it balanced with the sail, and then managing your weight. If you are hiking too hard, you will fall to windward and if you are not hiking enough, you will fall to leeward.”
After 2 days of hard weather (17-19 knots from the west and lots of chop) and 4 days of perfect conditions (12-14 knots from the south/southwest and flat water), Moroz could go upwind and downwind on both tacks pretty much and for extended time.
“On the day when we had perfect conditions, she got up and crossed the Richmond Channel – it was a few minute-long flight on her first go which was great,” Menard said. “She picked it up really quickly. Most people, even those with a sailing background, have a hard time at least for the first few hours in the boat.”
“Since I didn’t have any single-handed sailing experience it wasn’t too bad, it was just the perfect amount of challenge for me,” Moroz commented. “All the foiling principles are the same, such as being heeled to windward upwind etc. All I had to do was apply it to a different platform. It’s also a bit slower than kiting which made it easier for me to react/predict what I would need to do in terms of trimming.”
“Hoel was helpful and patient, he understood what sort of background I was coming from, and we always tried to compare the Waszp with kiting,” she said. “The best part was being a complete beginner again and learning more about my own learning process and how I learn.”
It was a win-win for both, as Menard discovered that he really enjoyed coaching and he looks forward to doing more.
“I hadn’t coached a week-long training camp before – I’d done them as a sailor but not as a coach,” Menard said. “It was interesting, and I really liked it. When I first saw her take off and go, that was an awesome moment!”