The foil on a sailing boat works like the wing of an aeroplane. Given enough speed, the fin creates lift, the hull rises from the water and, oddly, the boat looks as if it’s floating above the water. The earlier sailors master this stroke of physics-based genius, the better. Which is why the Red Bull Foiling Generation regattas are aimed at talented sailors aged 16-20 from all over the world.
Foiling technology is new, and it’s here to stay. So say two-time Olympic gold medal winners Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, the men in charge of the Red Bull Foiling Generation, because foils create serious speed. They offer almost no resistance in the water, with even a little wind increasing the pace. Flying Phantom catamarans can reach 35 knots, which is over 60kph.
3 EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES
All participants in the Red Bull Foiling Generation get to sail the same 18ft Flying Phantom catamarans. With a level playing field as far as equipment is concerned, athleticism and ability should separate the wheat from the chaff at the regattas.
4 EXCEEDING THE SPEED LIMIT
While skimming over the water on their foils, the catamarans react instantly to the slightest manoeuvre. Just keeping the boat going straight ahead is hard enough, but when tacking and gybing, the boats turn into nervous racehorses, chasing down every wave. If the foils tip up at high speed, the results are dramatic. The vessel plunges head first into the water and the crew is thrown mercilessly overboard.
5 MOVING ON UP
In the Red Bull Foiling Generation regattas, the winner of each head-to-head battle advances to the next round. The high-octane competition takes two years, with the world final set to play out in late 2016. The best young sailors will then have the chance to ascend the ranks, via the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, the Extreme Sailing Series and the America’s Cup.