High IQ

If ever a discipline needed a re-boot in the Olympic format, the windsurfers were high on the list and with new sports such as wing-foiling rapidly gaining adoption by every surf dude beach bum, it needed to be radical. What emerged was the IQFOiL and it’s sensational to watch. Seeing these things up close is one of those moments when you go: “How the hell does that work?” and from the shore it all looks gracefully easy in the hands of a top flight rider- and that’s the great trick for any class in our sport. If it looks do-able, it will attract the youth and the youthfully minded to give it a go.


©Sailing Energy

But watching these otherworldy beasts being raced in anger is truly breathtaking. The speeds they are attaining and the little tweaks, ooches and pumps that define the best from the rest is a marvel to unravel. Quite what makes the likes of Emma Wilson, Pilar La Madrid, or Marion Mortefon in the women’s fleet and Nicholas Goyard, Mateus Issac or the new wunderkid of British sailing Finn Hawkins in the men, stand-out from the rest is down to the finest of margins and an innate ability to consistently put the hammer down and bring together every ounce of superb, raw talent time and again in the races that matter.

Down in Lanzarote at the 2022 IQFOiL International Games it has been a celebration of the new class. They’ve been highly visual, exciting to watch, and produced some very tough, close racing that is worthy of any Olympic class.

Mark my words, new life has been breathed into the windsurfing discipline and we’re seeing new superstars of the sport emerge. Interestingly, it’s the Europeans that seem to have the upper hand with the French team particularly strong but usurped in the women’s fleet by the powerful Pilar La Madrid who thoroughly enjoyed the big conditions that Lanzarote served and hit eight wins from eleven races. The British Team are right in the mix with Emma Wilson, the brilliant bronze medallist from Tokyo, challenging the pecking order whilst being pushed by a strong team of fellow Brits whose time is coming fast.


©Sailing Energy

The men’s fleet were shown an almost demonstration day after day in Lanzarote by the fast riding Frenchman Nicholas Goyard who scored nine bullets from thirteen races and laid down a heck of a marker for the Marseille-based Olympic Regatta of Paris 2024 (if that makes sense?). Goyard seems a generation up on the rest with a smooth but powerful style in how he rides the foil, generating high point as he scoops to windward and a flowing downwind style that effortlessly rides the waves and maintains momentum. It’s quite something to watch. Addictive.

Shoreside it’s a great scene as you’d expect from a youthful class. The interesting thing is the knowledge transfer and as everyone is on the learning curve with this new discipline there’s an air of ‘all in it together’ that is irresistible. Yes that will tighten as the white-hot seriousness of Olympic competition ramps up but for now there’s a generosity in the fleet as they all get up to speed. Great to see. It was always thus in these avant garde disciplines.


©Sailing Energy

For my money, the IQFOiL class has the potential to be a real stand out at the next Games with interesting characters to latch on to at the top of the fleets and a visual spectacle that is really something to behold. The speeds are impressive and the Olympic movement would be daft to not make great hay with the youthful exuberance and athleticism on display.

By contrast, the kite surfers, locked as they are into a squat position, will have to work hard to eclipse the boards with their foiling dexterity. Which one will catch the Olympic zeitgeist and the social media eyeballs is anyone’s guess. From what I’ve seen, the IQFOiL has every chance of being a roaring success.

One to watch for sure.


6 thoughts on “High IQ

  1. Agreed, good racing and easier to watch than the kites, though a bit concerned that the boards seem to favour heavier crews. The Dutchman 105kgs, and we used to get concerned about the Finns over 90kgs. Surely better if the Olympic format aimed at the mean weights.

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  2. And thus the Olympics drift ever further from sailing which is accessible to sailors. Once upon a time the Olympics were in 8 metres or Stars or Finns with which we could identify. May I ask what percentage of your mates at the club bar are sailing with kites or foiling on boards? Approximately zero?

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  3. the cries that there is no class for the heavier competitor now bemoaning that someone doing well is 105KG, the kites? 90kg plus or don’t really bother applying.

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    1. You’re right. These are powerful athletes in both the IQFOiLS and the Kites. The optimum weight for even an International Moth is now 88kg. It’s all about power and stamina…the Finn is dead but those athletes can certainly now compete in these disciplines…

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      1. precisely, many of them foiled anyway and the ease that athletes switch pathways, certainly within the RYA system, if they want to and have the desire to there are olympic pathways for them, yes its different but not a closed shop, some though will age out which is shit but other than in rare circumstances foiling is a youngsters game.

        the question is do they want to take that route

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