Sailing: Youngsters crowned foiling champs in Auckland

After a soaring 2015 debut, the second season of Red Bull Foiling Generation - the series created by sailing legends Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher - got off to a flying start in front of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, NZ, with Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson crowned national champions.

This October, they will battle the planet's top young sailors in the first-ever World Final.

The City of Sails witnessed a new kind of sailing regatta at Red Bull Foiling Generation Auckland on Sunday, as Mackay and Wilkinson emerged from three days of knock-out heats on foiling catamarans to be named New Zealand's national champions. Set against the backdrop of the Harbour Bridge, the 16-team youth sailing event kicked off a 2016 season that will span eight countries, culminating with a historic World Final in the USA this October.

The racing in the final today was of a high grade, with the lead exchanged twice between first and second place (Trent Rippley and Issac McHardie). In the final leg, it was a straight high speed foil run towards the finish, where the winning boat dramatically capsized right on the finish line as Mackay and Wilkinson took the victory.



"We were really tight coming into the last mark," says Wilkinson. "Luckily we got around in-front of them, and then we were reaching and just flying into the finish line, totally out of control, but we managed to get across before we rolled the boat."

Created by double Olympic champions Hagara and Steinacher as a search for the best young talent, Red Bull Foiling Generation introduces skilled sailors aged 16-20 to the future of sailing; foiling. Each two-person team races on the Flying Phantom, a super lightweight, multihull catamaran capable of reaching speeds up to 35 knots (nearly 40mph) that is similar on a smaller scale to the watercraft used in the America´s Cup.

"This week was a dream. It's incredible to get experience with a boat that actually lifts off the water, especially when your coaches are Roman and Hans Peter." said Wilkinson. "We'll train hard for the World Final. We can't wait to fly again!"

Hagara stated, "New Zealand is a sailing powerhouse - we had applications from so many talented teams, and the spectators really appreciate what these kids are accomplishing. I'd love to see some of these sailors graduate to the Youth America's Cup, which resumes next year with New Zealand as reigning champion."

Red Bull Foiling Generation sees the hulls lift over the water in eight countries in 2016. In addition to New Zealand, regattas will take place in Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and the USA, followed by a World Final featuring 15 national champion teams. Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher are the series sports directors - the double Olympic champions from Austria are also in charge of staging the Red Bull Youth America's Cup 2017 and are the masterminds of the Red Bull Sailing Team participating in the Extreme Sailing Series.

The foils fly again at the next Red Bull Foiling Generation regatta in Istanbul, Turkey on May 13-15.

- NZ Herald

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