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Foiling –

Future Fantastic or Foiling the Future?

By Jonathan Weston

I

youth—the future bloodline of our sport—can’t s foiling the future or are we foiling the future foil, will they not want to sail at all? Or will this with foiling? The audience draw of foiling “One day, revolutionize the sport and boom?! craft, evidenced by the America’s Cup, is undeall boats niable. But how will this impact our sport? How The Clock Rings 12s many of these onlookers will latch on to our will fly.” A-Cat veteran Tom Ehman—and former vice sport after a ride on a Columbia 22? As sailing commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club (San accelerates through an increasingly rapid evoluÉric Tabarl Francisco)—is a heralded once-upon-a-time tion, a cottage industry of safer, more stable, 1987 winner of the Championship of Champions, forcheaper, (albeit slower) production foilers are mer executive director of USYRU (now US now rolling out for half the price. Sailing) and inventor of on-the-water umpiring. Ehman One of the contributing factors to the demise of windstates that “Foiling is a legit offshoot of the sport. It’s here surfing was its own hi-tech evolution. Kiting later conto stay, but it’s only an offshoot. Like AC catamarans, tributed to this downturn, but the first blow came with the they are too expensive, too dangerous, too difficult. ramp-up to carbon fiber, which increased costs. One could They’re fun for a few, but they aren’t going to replace no longer enjoy the speeds, flight, and maneuverability of Lasers, J/22s, Flying Scots, PHRF boats—to name but a the lighter models without downsizing their car. If surfers few. Not mainstream and never will be.” couldn’t perform at the new level, they opted not to windTom’s vision is to launch an event for the ages, The San surf at all. The bottom dropped out, and large factories proFrancisco Yacht Racing Challenge, which “will bring digniducing the plastic models shut down. Hula hoops. ty, style, and stability back to the sport—the Wimbledon of So now we have a similar situation happening with trayacht racing.” ditional sailing’s already slow growth being challenged by But do youth want dignity, style, and stability? Maybe foiling craft. The added expense, skill level, and danger are style, but they mostly want freedom to go fast. To rip, as keeping wannabe foilers at bay from jumping on the bandthey say, with a side of fries. wagon. Who can afford this? Like the windsurfers, if our

A-Class catamaran up on foils. The AC foiling cats are increasing in popularity. The AC cats are a challenge to sail, and the foiling AC cats are even more of a challenge. Photo by Karen Ryan. www.KarenRyanPhoto.com. 42

August 2017

SOUTHWINDS

www.southwindsmagazine.com

Southwinds August 2017  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds August 2017  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...