We all know that the Olympic Committee and World Sailing made a massive error of judgement in appointing kiteboarding to the vacant sailing slot for Paris 2024. It’s an error of catastrophic proportions made by clueless, out of touch committees that failed to recognise the simple fact that no-one does the racing discipline. It’s a holiday beach sport at best. A weekend thing for people to do who have no friends. It’s for those that wouldn’t say boo to a goose.
Even the RYA, the greatest winning organisation of all time, have been casting around for 16-21 year olds who have any interest in pursuing the sport. Let’s say they weren’t deluged with candidates. Olympic legends won’t be created and it’s right up there with the ridiculous minority sports like breakdancing of the modern era or poodle-clipping (1900, Paris), horse long jump (1960, Italy), pistol duelling (1908, London) or solo synchronised swimming (1992, Barcelona). I kid you not. Quite fancy bringing ‘pistol duelling’ back though – that might sort out some America’s Cup stuff sharpish.
The big problem with kiteboarding is that it’s yesterday’s news. Everyone is wing foiling. Easier. More fun. Democratic. Cheap. Better racing. No chance of being pulled across groins and more sociable. You grab your board, get a wing and in five minutes you’re foiling the waves and looking achingly cool. The kite boarders meanwhile are still sat on the beach tying stupid little pieces of string, pumping up wings and trying to remember how to fly a kite – a skill they last didn’t master at the age of three with their grand-parents on rainy summer holidays in land-locked Derbyshire.
The cool kids are wing foiling. Fact. The Olympics has surfed the wrong wave. World Sailing was asleep and still think The Rolling Stones are groovy. The kids have won again. Kiteboarding should, if there’s any good in the world, be dumped immediately after Paris 2024 and never referred to again. An aberration. A mistake. A panicked decision. An error of judgement. An example never to be repeated again. Kiteboarding should be replaced by wing foiling, plain and simple. Easy.
And to prove the point, the most incredible initiative is underway by four wing foilers who are taking on the circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight – 50 nautical miles of sometimes hairy seas, wind shadows, shifts, rocks, cliffs, wrecks and rip tides, not to mention monster fatigue. I’m knackered after doing it in a 28-footer sitting down the whole way around. Can you imagine what it’s like to stand up? Amazing effort.
And also, hats off to my local club and national treasure, The Island Sailing Club, the absolute gem in the Cowes club scene. I was there last night having a pizza with the boy wonder on the beautiful quarter deck just as the sun was going down and the place was buzzing.
The club are the effective, de-facto go-to of all things going around our fabulous Isle and the organisers of the London Marathon of Yachting – the annual Round the Island Race which is such a focus of everyone’s sailing calendar on the South Coast. And they’re full-square behind this ‘Foil the Wight’ challenge which hopefully is happening as I write this, weather permitting.
Good luck to Ross Williams, Tom Court, Sam Light and Thomas Buggy who are moving the dial and rocking the world. With fleets emerging all over the place – and I see from social media that the St Francis Yacht Club is right on this ticket – I think wing foiling is the future today. Brilliant sport. Nice people and a great alternative for those kids who don’t like having coaches whistling at them. And going slow.
It’s the anti-parent discipline. It’s the nautical equivalent of the Sex Pistols.