By Margot Mesnard (press writer of the Caribbean Foiling Championships)
It’s a wrap for the Caribbean Foiling Championships after 3 days of racing in kitefoiling and windfoiling, despite unusual light wind conditions. Competitors from around the Caribbean and abroad were able to demonstrate their levels in foiling, highlighting the promising skills of the youngsters who were competing in the same category as the adults
On a sunny Sunday morning, the Race Officer did the safety briefing for the day, a bit after the scheduled time in order to allow competitors to relax and recover after the busy party of the night before. There are 10 knots of wind established in Orient Bay and the course of the ride remains the same as the Saturday race: a sprint slalom course between 3 buoys spread out in the bay. With a low wind, the racing spot was very flat and shining with the typical turquoise color of Orient Bay.
The race is launched for the professional kitefoilers. Emmanuel Demanez of Wind Adventures is happy to see that the riders keep a good spirit up and are willing to try racing even under the light wind, which is very uncommon for this time of the year. Four races of 2 laps each are evaluated by the racing committee. A couple of competitors could not finish the last lap of the race due to the wind dropping. Two riders in the leisure category, Cora Maziere and Matthias Heierli, raced amongst the professionals with their pump-out kites, in order to try and score the most points as possible.
Kitefoiling is a fast sport. As riders are focused on the race and deciding on the angles of the turns they want to make, supporters can only hear the fast whistling noise made by the foil gliding over the water. Each race is completed under 10 minutes depending on the size of the kite and turning choices made by each rider. The fastest completion of the two laps of the course recorded was 6 minutes, by professional athlete 17 years old Tiger Tyson from Antigua. His top speed was 51 kilometers (28 knots), confidently putting him as a rising star in the Caribbean kitefoiling world.
During a festive prize giving ceremony, the crowd cheered to Tiger Tyson who came in the first place, Olivier Blottière from Martinique second and Loic Brismontier from Guadeloupe third place. Satisfied with his race, he explains: “It was very light as I only had a 15 square meters kite, and some competitors had a 20 square meters kite. I really enjoyed the course of the race as you need a proper strategy to get to the departure line and to go round the buoys. It can make a big difference.”
Eventually, after 3 days of light wind, some riders who were not able to compete were a bit disappointed. Stan Rodriguez, a local rider of Saint-Martin lets his frustration out: “I trained everyday for this championships and it never happened in 20 years in February to have less than 10 knots of wind here.» Experienced Race Officer, Sacha Daunar who came from the French Federation of Sailing of Guadeloupe says: “When there is light wind, we have to find solutions and try to wait for the best conditions of wind to launch a race in order for racers score official points and allow them to move up in the international ranking. In those conditions, the only thing to do is to be patient.»
The windfoilers did not get enough wind to compete this Sunday, but enjoyed participating in the championships. Bruno Kancel from Guadeloupe who came in first following the race of Friday around Tintamarre says: “I am trying to get more small events happen in Guadeloupe, and with the official side, the Caribbean Foiling Championships is the perfect format”. Eliott Pierre-Heym from Saint-Martin, who is under 18 and came in third place windfoiling, exclaims: “I can’t wait to try it again next year!”.
The organizers, Sacha van der Wouden and Maxim van den Pol, are thankful for the sponsors and supporters for making this first edition of the Caribbean Foiling Championships happen. They give thanks to the persons who helped out on logistics and safety, to volunteers, to competitors coming all the way from different islands, and finally to the race committee. They are convinced that this event is good for the island of Sint Maarten, as the last contest in kitesurfing was 3 years ago and was not specifically dedicated to foiling which is a growing and exciting sport, and will be included for the first time in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The Caribbean Foiling Championships will celebrate its first edition in 2020 from February 21-23. This new and innovative event will offer three days of racing for professional as well as leisure kite/windsurf foilers! With trade winds, crystal clear waters and an everyday sunshine, this island paradise is the perfect setting for this one-of-a- kind event. One-of-a- kind in every respect; The first big kite and wind foiling event in the Caribbean.
Sponsors: Wind Adventures, Thirty Zero Thirty Two, Les Plages d’Orient Bay, Kia-Soremar, L’Express, Dauphin Télécom, Surf Ace, New Vision, Duotone, Trakx Design, Red Bull, Sint Maarten Nectar, World of Windsurf, Gelateria Milano, Windfoil Zone.