Foiling is about to revolutionize our sport and the last piece of the puzzle was to get windfoiling as the official Olympic windsurfing platform for the future. It's now done as the Starboard IQ Foil (previously called iFoil) will be the official equipment for men and women's windsurfer!
Following World Sailing's working party recommendation after the sea trials done in Torbole, Italy, World Sailing's Council confirmed the list of Events and Equipment for the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition. The 15 year old RS:X class will officially be replaced by a windfoil class, the IQFoil, for the 2024 Paris Olympics. (IQ means Innovation and Quality)
The Council approved the selection of the iFoil after 31 members voted in favour with eight against and two abstentions. This decision has then been ratified by the World Sailing's Annual General Meeting on November 3rd.
Getting windfoiling at the Olympics is great news for windsurfing, as it will allow a new future to be built for our sport after 20 years of steady decline.
The sea trials
The recommendation to choose foiling as the standard windsurfing discipline for the 2024 Paris Olympic sounds logical, especially as so many people were ready for the change, but as often in times of change, it has not been easy to achieve.
In May 2019, the board of World Sailing had actually given the recommendation to retain the RS:X as the Olympic class. This decision was fortunately reversed by the World Sailing Council, after a strong protest by many athletes among which the reigning double Olympic champion Dorian van Rijsseberghe. World Sailing decided to organize sea trials to test and evaluate the different equipment options proposed.
Antoine Albeau and Bruno Kancel testing the Olympic equipment on Lake Garda
In September 2019, the “Working Party” of World Sailing evaluated 2 non-foiling equipment options the RS:X and the Glide and 3 foiling options. The foiling options were:
The Windfoil1 concept with one-design board from multiple brands with registered series production rig and foil.
The Formula Foil
The IQ Foil and Windfoil 1 projects were the clear favourites of these sea trials.
Many sailors and people in the windsurfing industry, like the 2019 world champion Antoine Albeau, are supporting the Windfoil1 platform, because it’s an innovative partnership between several brands and the distribution model through shops offers better sponsorship opportunities for the riders.
However, the IQ Foil project has been preferred by world sailing experts and here are the reasons for their choice:
An affordable package option
Competition in different formats from 5 knots to 35 knots
Easy transport to competitions and training venues
Proven quality products and supply chain management
Support for emerging nations
Equipment that will reward skill and tactical knowledge
Youth appeal and complement to the existing pathways
Supports a unique signature event that will attract media coverage with the possibility of dynamic formats and short competition timelines
Impressive sustainability program in place today and a future commitment to our oceans.
The Windfoil1 and IQFoil projects have the same foil board (the IQFoil, developed by Starboard) in their tender, but the IQFoil project was probably preferred because of the kit itself, with only 1 sail as opposed to 2 sails for windfoil1, and a regular fin which makes the board convertible if the wind would be too strong for foiling. It makes the total cost of the equipment relatively cheaper.
Description of Starboard IQFoil (previously known as iFoil)
The Starboard IQFoil offers One Design equipment where most components are the same for both genders.
The proposed equipment presents different rig size, (sail and mast) for different genders.
The equipment was developed to accommodate men from 65kg to 85kg and women from 55kg to 70kg.
The board is lighter and more compact than the current Olympic equipment. All the equipment fits in two bags that can be brought to regattas or training venues as passenger’s excess baggage.
At an event a sailor will register: - one Board, - one Foil, one Fin, one Sail (Severne Hyperglide 2. Women = 8m2, Men = 9m2), one Mast, one Boom.
The foil package is composed of one foil mast, two fuselages, one front and rear wings.
The Starboard Race (900 front wing men and 800 front wing youth/women) is the selected foil for the iFoil package. It is supplied with an additional 95cm fuselage so that it can be de-powered for added control in strong winds and for improved reaching, top speed or long-distance performance.
Starboard Carbon Race foil
The two fuselage lengths are used to accommodate a wider range of physiques in a wider range of wind and sea state conditions. The option to replace the foil with a fin offers an alternative for extreme sailing conditions.
Although the Starboard IQ Foil offers high performance equipment, the setup is easy. The focus of the concept is on the performance and tactical skills of the athlete rather than on technical equipment development or intense tuning.
Starboard equipment is distributed worldwide to the market through Starboard’s sales network of 75 distribution partners. The distributors sell to the sailors and windsurfing associations directly from the distributor or via retail shops. Where no distributors exist, factory direct sales are accommodated.
Windfoiling at the Olympics is now officially confirmed. The rise of foiling is continuing and now becomes a new Olympic discipline. This will enable to get great exposure for new younger crowds, and recruit more people into the sport.
Windsurfing is not dead!