Kiwi youth foiling winners crowned in Auckland
Red Bull Youth Generation Championships in Auckland
In the City of Sails on February 23-25, New Zealand’s most talented youth sailors delivered thrilling action at the first 2018 stop of Red Bull Foiling Generation – the innovative series created by two-time Olympic champions Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher. Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie triumphed to claim the national championship and will go on to compete in the World Final this November.
Reigning Red Bull Foiling Generation World Champions Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson had claimed the global title for New Zealand in 2016, and with the pair now over the 16-20 age category, anticipation was high to find the Kiwi sailors who will defend the title. Sixteen teams vied for the honour, flying on their foils across Waitematā Harbour. When two days of intense racing concluded on Sunday, McHardie and McKenzie emerged as the class of the field to top the podium. The new national champions will take on an international line-up in the Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final at Miami, USA, on November 16-18, 2018.
“We are absolutely pumped to come away with the win!” says Isaac McHardie. “Unfortunately we didn’t get to race today but we’re really looking forward to Miami and we’re going to give it our all.”
Today’s light wind conditions meant Auckland unfortunately did not see Semi-Final or Final races being able to be completed, therefore the winners were selected from the 11th heat race concluded on Saturday. This heat was decided on the final downwind leg – Jackson Keon & Tom Fyfe who had lead the entire race found themselves looking over their shoulders, as Isaac McHardie & William McKenzie came hard at them, getting to the final mark by a small margin, and sailing on to win the race.
“New Zealand has a passion for sailing, and people recognise that participating in this series can be a step toward a career in the sport,” said Hagara. “Since Olivia and Micah won the World Final in 2016, she has helmed a wildcard boat in the Extreme Sailing Series, and he sailed in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. Plus at least 40 previous participants in Red Bull Foiling Generation are currently in Olympic-class programs for Tokyo 2020.”
Hagara and Steinacher first launched Red Bull Foiling Generation in 2015 to find the world’s most talented young sailors and introduce them to the type of cutting-edge foiling technology used in the America’s Cup. Both males and females participate in two-person teams and race in four-boat heats on Flying Phantom foiling catamarans. After regattas in France and New Zealand, four stops remain to determine national champions in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and the USA before the World Final.
“I think the World Final is going to be even more competitive this year because sailors are more professional” Steinacher commented. “When you watch young sailors like these athletes in New Zealand, you’re seeing the future of the sport, and that’s what Red Bull Foiling Generation is all about.”
Next up: The foils will fly in the Netherlands, when Red Bull Foiling Generation sets sail in The Hague on June 28-30, 2018.