2019 has witnessed an explosion of UK Windsurfing Association (UKWA) foil racing; Rod Davis of the UKWA gives us an insight into the competition series.
Words Rod Davis // Photos Dave White
Rod Davis – “Foil racing is offered at both our slalom and course racing events. In the slalom series, foiling races are held when the wind speed is between 7 and 11 knots, if it’s above that, then sailors switch to slalom boards. At present there are many more sailors who simply only race slalom, but the number of foilers is creeping up as it provides the alternative of actually racing rather than sitting on the beach waiting for the wind speed to reach 12 knots. At our course racing events, a separate foiling fleet has now been created in which sailors only use foiling boards and do not switch to conventional boards when the wind gets above 11 knots, unlike in the slalom series. Here foiling seems to have taken over from the Formula fleet, most of whose members have now taken up the new discipline, with the added spice and expertise from some of the young RS:X sailors who are currently making the running. There are no kit limits at the moment in either series, anything may be used with no restriction on how many sails or boards. To date, competitors are mostly using sail sizes of 7.0 to 10.0 and foil ready slalom boards or specialist foiling boards. 2019 boards and sails demonstrate a clear advantage over even 2018 models, so obviously kit is still developing at a fantastic rate.
Racers have to wear mandatory safety gear of a helmet and high-viz vest. There is a lower age limit of 17, but those under 17 may be admitted by applying to the UKWA where their experience will be assessed.
At the UKWA Cup Series course racing event at Christchurch over the weekend of 20/21 July, the wind blew for the whole weekend, producing what UKWA Chairman Bob Ingram claimed was one of the best events ever. Antonio Cozzolino from New Zealand, who had not raced a foil with the UKWA before, almost swept the board with seven first places, winning by an overall margin of 5 points from Henry Bloodworth with four wins. The remaining win went to Paul Sibley in race three when half the fleet retired due to having sailed the wrong course! Third overall was Norwegian sailor Jakob Ruud who finished one place above Guy Cribb.
At the end of the year there will be a winner from each foil series in slalom and course racing. So far Scotty Stallman leads the foil series in the slalom fleet after winning all three events, with James Dinsmore second and James Faley third in the rankings. After four events in the course racing Cup Series so far, Henry Bloodworth occupies the top slot followed by veteran racer, Dave Coles, and in third place is James Harvey.
If you fancy taking the plunge, joining the UKWA brings with it inclusive third party insurance up to £5 million, plus discounts off comprehensive insurance rates. Annual membership is £45, family membership £60 and youth/student £30. This allows you to enter all our
slalom events and Cup Series events, with additional entry fees for each event.
If you want to find out more, check out ukwindsurfing.com/membership