Climbing the new windsurfing mountain

Published on January 27th, 2022

When the newly developed iQFoil was selected as the equipment for the Paris 2024 Olympic Windsurfing event at World Sailing’s 2019 Annual Conference, it checked nearly all the boxes. Modern, appealing, transportable, foiling through a wide wind range, inclusive.

The only problem is that it was new. Growing pains were inevitable, which you could argue should never occur for equipment chosen for the Olympic Games. Equipment selection creates demand, but athletes should not be test pilots.

But the chase for Olympic gold takes on the hurdles, and the 2020 iQFoil International Games in Italy had almost 200 riders from 29 nations, with the 2021 iQFoil European Championships in France attracting 230 entrants from 36 nations. The chase was on!

The newer the equipment, the bigger the difference in ability. When everyone is figuring it out at the same time, some will figure it out sooner. When the equipment is as fast as the iQFoil, the early adapters will be over the horizon. Haves and have nots on display.

With just over 900 days till the Olympic Games in Paris 2024, more than 100 athletes are at the 2022 IQFoiL International Games, with racing held January 25-29 in Lanzarote, Spain. This event is the opening act of a series of eight events this year, and the pecking order is apparent.

Pilar Lamadrid Trueba (ESP) has won every women’s race while Nicolas Goyard (FRA) has nearly done the same. No North Americans are competing, which is likely due to not wanting to watch people sail over the horizon.

It’s been a long time since the home continent has seen the podium, which was a silver medal by Mike Gebhardt (USA) at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics. Despite its birth in the USA, windsurfing lost traction in the states as the equipment became more complex and as youth sailing focused on age-based doublehanded dinghies.

But a Men’s and Women’s Windsurfing events are among the ten event at Paris 2024, and the iQFoil class competed at the 2022 US Open Sailing Series Miami on January 21-23 with ten men and three women. For those that seek to test themselves on the international level, they will get their chance in 2022 as the class fills out its schedule… here are three biggies:

March 3-6 – North American Championship – Mexico
May 15-22 – European Championship – Torbole, Italy
October 15-22 – World Championship -Brest, France

For information on the iQFoil class: https://www.iqfoilclassofficial.org/

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