The NZBOARDSTORE Windfoil Nationals were held North of Auckland at Manly Sailing Club between 18 and 20 March and overseen by Principal Race Officer and America's Cup legend Russell Coutts.
The fleet was loaded with international sailors who have been training in New Zealand ahead of the 2020 RS:X World Championships at Takapuna. Some of the big names included Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED), two time reigning Olympic Champion; Kiran Badloe (NED), RS:X World #1; Alex Cousin (FRA), 4th in the PWA World Tour; Ivan Pastor (ESP), Olympian and 10 times Raceboard World Champion; Aaron McIntosh (NZL), three times MOD World Champion and Olympic Bronze medallist; Casper Bouman (NED), former RS:X and Formula World Champion; and JP Tobin (NZL), Olympian and former World #1.
Conditions were light and shifty. Over the three days only six races were able to be completed in the 4 to 8 knot wind range. Kiran Badloe and Alex Cousin taking out all the bullets between them (4 to 1). No suprise that those two claimed the top spots on the podium, with the italo-franco-Kiwi, Antonio Cozzolino, close behind in third. Denmark's Olympic contender, Sebastian Fleischer had to make a last minute withdrawal and was sorely missed.
New formats were trialled to cater to the light conditions, including a one gybe, one tack slalom dubbed the "bang the corners format" which was met with excitement and great success.
Both Kiran and Antonio were trialing Starboard's new 2020 Foil 177 along with the 10.0 Severne Hyper Glide 2s. Kiran's had this to say about the week: "It's been really great to be here in NZ training again. Thanks to Manly and all the people involved with organising this event. Happy that I had some fast gear. The combination of the new board and sail is really great and the Hyper Glide 2 is an amazing step up from what was already a great sail last year. I'm really enjoying the short boom, especially downwind. Looking forward to racing with them in the PWA this year. I'm stoked that we managed get get 6 races done in difficult conditions with some of the most talented and eclectic windsurfers in the World".
Aaron was pretty philosophical about his result: "Look at the end of the day, I'm their coach, so to be mixing it up with them like that and in the hunt for medals with pretty phenomenal actually. Gotta show the boys who is boss! I'm really impressed with the level we have here and am super grateful we pulled some internationals. Pumped about the season ahead".
Antonio on the other hand was somewhat more analytical and reflective on the advances that have been made from a technical perspective: "I'm pretty impressed with how the sails came out. It was pretty cool to see here that we were able to get away and 4 and 5 knots for slalom and 6 and 7 for course racing. I had a fairly good idea based on the development we did in Tarifa with Gonzalo at the end of last year, but you never know until the get the real thing. The new high aspect sails have excellent dynamic range, good power and acceleration but also nice control owing to the short boom. That's also excellent for the racing duck gybes! I was pushing Gonzo pretty hard for a wing sail like Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50s, but he wasn't so keen. Maybe next year, ha! Look, the racing has been excellent here in New Zealand and it has been a welcome break from our RS:X training. Kiran and I are super exciting to be joining the PWA boys for some of the events on the tour this year, and hopefully we will be close to them in some of the races. Thanks to Starboard and Severne for the support"
Check out all the info about the event and results at https://www.facebook.com/ManlySailingClub/