Foiling tack rocks the windsurf world

Published on May 9th, 2022

The Olympic Sailing Program was revamped for Paris 2024 with only two of the ten events – ILCA 6 and 7 – as the same from Tokyo 2020. And with only a three year gap between games, there’s a lot to learn in a shorter time.

The skiffs have new sails and masts to master. The multihull is now fully foiling upwind with a new rudder system. The doublehanded dinghy is adapting to a mixed crew while the Formula Kite fleet is indoctrinated into multi-class events. But the biggest wildcard is the iQFOiL.

The Men’s and Women’s Windsurfing event has seen a frequent turnover of equipment since it was first introduced to the Olympics in Los Angeles 1984, with the foiling iQFOil windsurfer created to meet the desire for modern and exciting equipment.

But anything new, especially anything fast and foiling, will lead to a massive difference in early performance on the race course. Parity takes time, which isn’t ideal when the Olympics is to showcase the best in the world, and the situation just got amplified by a 15-year-old Australian.

Since the beginning of windsurf foiling, the first foiling tack has been highly anticipated but yet to be perfected. But when Harry Joyner foiled through the first-ever tack on his iQFOiL, it rocked the windsurfing world.

“Ridiculous! It’s crazy and so cool to see the next generation of the sport pushing the limits and showing us that there are no limits!” said Kiran Badloe (NED), 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist. “We’ve been extremely fast around the course so far, and it feels like the only part where we have been slow is the tack.

“Slow tacks have been limiting our strategies to some extent as we would have to consider a significant loss of meters on each tack. Foiling tacks will be a game changer. Now that I see it done, I will surely put some extra hours into practicing this skill!”

Badloe will be in a panic to master the foiling tack when every second in the water translates to losing about 9 meters. Therefore, mastering the foiling tack could potentially lead to massive gains during each race… or losses.

“The foiling tack has been ticking over in my mind for about a year of brainstorming ideas of ways to do it,” said Joyner. “It is pretty exciting that windfoiling is developing into a fully foiling sport.’

Whether Joyner has an advantage will be put to the test when he faces the 255 competitors from 40 nations registered for the 2022 iQFOiL European Championship on May 16-21 on Lake Garda in Torbole, Italy.

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