Going where man has never gone before

Published on September 22nd, 2021

While the windward leeward course may offer a proper test of tactics and boat handling, it lacks the elements of adventure and problem-solving found when competing amid random legs rife with islands and inlets.

Nobody ever asked, “Why did you do a double sausage?”, but do something bold, something never done before like wingfoiling the 50nm around the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England and you might hear the immortal words of mountaineer George Mallory, “Because it is there.”

Four wingfoilers – World Champion Windsurfer Ross Williams along with Tom Court, Sam Light, and Thomas Buggy – will make the herculean inaugural attempt to complete the distance. With the Solent on one side and the English Channel on the other, it will test the athletes resolve to endure the course on a foil board while powered by a handheld wing sail.

“We will have lots of different conditions, from big waves on the south side of the Island, tidal rips, flat water in wind shadows and some upwind sailing,” says Buggy.

A key challenge will be in the selection of the most appropriate equipment, as usually different size foils and sails are chosen for optimal performance in a small range of wind strengths. By contrast the squadron of wingmen will need to select gear that gives sufficient power in the lightest wind they will experience, without being so large as to be overwhelming at the other end of the spectrum.

The squadron of foilers aim to set out from Cowes around mid-morning on September 23 and are raising funds for HASAG, a charity dedicated to helping people suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, in memory of Williams’ father who passed away recently.

For a video that previews the effort:

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