wingfoil insanity hits the coast | EUROtoday

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DFrom Beauduc to Leucate through La Grande-Motte (Hérault), we solely see them, racing alongside the floor of the water and a few performing high-flying jumps. Wingfoils have been standard for 4 or 5 years, even surpassing the variety of kite or windsurf lovers.

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On these humorous birds, riders transfer ahead due to the propulsion of a wing with a really mild inflatable construction managed utilizing handles. Under their ft they’ve a board geared up with a foil – actually a metallic blade – which permits them to glide a couple of tens of centimeters above the water.

The approach just isn’t new. The first flying boats date again to the period of Eric Tabarly's hydrofoil, and skilled a increase with the America's Cup at the start of the 2000s. Windsurfing boards after which kitesurfing boards have been additionally geared up with them, but it surely It is with the “wing” that the “foil” is experiencing an actual craze.

First movies in Hawaii

“It all started from videos published on the Internet in 2019, from Hawaii, a pioneer archipelago of the discipline,” says Nicolas Caillon, designer and founding father of the Zeeko gear model, based mostly in Sète. “After the younger generation, present on social networks, it is the entire world of board sports who have taken it up in a dazzling way,” he continues.

It should be mentioned that the sensations are multiplied and the probabilities immense for practitioners. “Thanks to the foil, we take off while avoiding friction on the water, taking advantage of the sound of the wind and the water,” explains François Bovis, practitioner and technical advisor to the French Sailing Federation.

Gone are the space and security constraints of kitesurfing, banned on some seashores sure months of the yr. No want for a van both, which is important for transporting a board. “And launching can be done from a rock or from a port by rowing,” he provides. The golf equipment shortly tailored to the demand, and there are few who haven’t added wingfoil to their course or coaching providing.

Fly one meter above the water

“We can sail after just a few days of training, and even in weak and light winds,” explains François Bovis. By decreasing the floor space of ​​the board involved with the water by ten, we will double, and even triple, the pace. » Speed ​​as much as 30 knots (55 km/h) whereas generally flying a meter above the water… Enough to draw amateurs and professionals.

At the crossroads of a number of practices, wingfoil has attracted utterly totally different profiles amongst gliding lovers. Orane Ceris, a former gymnast, began in Caledonian waters earlier than becoming a member of the French crew after simply two years. A thrill-seeker, she took the wingfoil wave on the age of 28 and by no means let go, inserting herself among the many greatest on the earth.

The delivery of champions of the self-discipline was not lengthy in coming. With an actual pool of skills made in France, who can be current from April 7 to 14 in Leucate-La Franqui (Aude) for the GWA Wingfoil World Cup, as a part of the Mondial du vent.

New Caledonian Titouan Galea, 26, an excellent rider in different disciplines, grew to become the primary world champion in 2021. He stays the undisputed grasp of wingfoil, intently adopted by Bastien Escofet and Alan Fedit. Two prodigies are additionally making headlines: Malo Guénolé, 18 years outdated, and already spent half his life on foil, and the junior world champion Axel Gérard, 15 years outdated.

Permanent screens

The “oldies” usually are not omitted. Antoine Albeau, 51 years outdated and twenty-five instances world champion in several windsurfing disciplines, was instantly satisfied.

“I've always dabbled in everything, so I experimented. Impossible to resist the ease and pleasure that wingfoiling offers. At the beginning, we brought wings from Hawaii, and now we give lessons with permanent instructors,” confides the champion who has grow to be a faculty director.

On the Ile de Ré, the place he’s based mostly, he notices an actual change within the panorama: “In front of me, on the water, there are 70 wingfoils for 3 boards and 2 kites. There is a real word-of-mouth effect, and a bit of showing off,” he admits.

This progress within the self-discipline, though not quantified, is accompanied by an “arms race” in gear, notes Antoine Albeau. More than 100 corporations, the leaders of that are French, work on R&D.

First costs from 500 euros

“Three years ago, I made my board in my garage,” laughs Alan Fedit, each free fashion champion and supplies engineer. Today, we’re beginning with aeronautics carbon fiber. » This is confirmed by Nicolas Caillou, from Zeeko. “It’s all over the place, working on materials that are ever lighter, more manageable and more resistant. It can be limitless. »

But let the curious rest assured, the first prices start at 500 euros. And the sensations are not proportional to the price of the material! This could call into question a possible selection of the discipline for future Olympic Games. “Indeed, for equal opportunities, everyone must have the same equipment. We will lose fun and sponsorship, which is currently the crux of the matter. »

In the meantime, the practice is still in the process of being structured. “Wingfoil is the fastest growing water sport, but it needs to attract more attention from external sponsors and build recognition with a structured organization on a global scale,” emphasizes Tom Hartmann, creator of the Wing Foil Cup. GWA world. The success of the Mondial du vent and the ever extra spectacular prowess of its champions ought to assist preserve the promise.