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Notice to Mariners: Flights of Fancy

The men’s iQFOiL fleet goes at it hammer and tongs during last weekend's 2022 US Open Sailing Series Miami

The men’s iQFOiL fleet goes at it hammer and tongs during last weekend's 2022 US Open Sailing Series Miami

The nature of sailboat racing is such that the bigger boats tend to get the lion’s share of attention. Recently, though, I’ve found myself especially impressed by what’s happening at the lighter end of the displacement spectrum.

Those paying attention are aware there’s been a bit of a revolution in Olympic sailing. Gone is the Finn (and long gone are such stalwarts as the Star and Soling). Taking center stage are the iQFOiL (a full-foiling sailboard) and the FormulaKite full-foiling kiteboard. Can we all just take out a moment to reflect on how cool these things are? How incredible it is to contemplate fleets of sailors flying over the water aboard wind-powered vessels that weigh less than they do?

Better still, as a direct result of this revolution, these kinds of vessels becoming increasingly mainstream as they take part in events such as last weekend’s 2022 US Open Sailing Series in Miami, which included both men’s and women’s iQFOiL sections and the upcoming series event in Clearwater, Florida, Feb. 3-6. Granted the fleets remain small. But they’re only going to get bigger, better and ever more exciting as time goes by and these classes take hold. And the results? Check out the video below from last year’s US Sailing Open Regatta on San Francisco Bay. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so impressed. What an awesome bunch of the sailors!

Equally exciting is the Persico 69F  full-foiling one-design skiff making its North American debut this week at Event 2 of the Bacardi Winter Series, also in Miami. Following a successful European campaign last summer, six of the boats, with crews of three or four sailors will be taking part. Look for speeds in the mid-30s in the right conditions, this aboard an all-carbon skiff expressly configured for stability and ease of handling. (Click on the video link below to see these boats in action)

“We are delighted the 69F has attributed their USA debut to the Bacardi Regatta Series…it will be fantastic to witness these spectacular foiling platforms on Biscayne Bay,” says event director, Sara Zanobini.

Amen to that. I’m psyched to see how the team from the Chicago Yacht Club (comprised of sailors Ava Wilson, Ben Rosenberg, Ravi Parent and Cali Salinas) will do at the event. I also can’t wait to see this kind of sailboat racing become increasing commonplace, in New England, the Great Lakes and coast to coast.

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