Foil madness

The upper Lake Garda experienced an explosion of adrenaline at Foiling Week and iQFoil European Youth Championships

Text: Elena Giolai


In July, the waters of Lake Garda became the stage for two events that brought SLAM into the focus of the new generations, who see foiling as a sporting, but also technological, academic, and experimental reference. With Foiling Week and the iQFoil European Youth Championships, the upper Lake Garda experienced 10 days of electric atmosphere, while young Italian talents won a place on the podium in the under-15, under-17, and under-19 categories in the iQFoil Continental Championships, for a total of 6 medals, 4 of which were gold.

In both events, SLAM was involved as a partner of the event or, in the case of the iQFoil, of the Italian Sailing Federation, which fielded a team of athletes in Torbole who proved their great value on the water.

Foiling Week has further developed training, innovation and sustainability, with projects that include a carbon reduction plan and the development of a micro-wind turbine to make wind energy more accessible to a wider range of people.

The foil is not just a technology, but a trend that has spread across all water disciplines involving wind. The sailing and windsurfing communities of kiters and wingfoilers have never been so close and connected to each other 

Maurizio Priano
SLAM Brand Manager 


But what makes foil so appealing to young people, and how has it revolutionized the approach to competition? We interviewed athletes, sailing legends, who have transitioned into athletic trainers, coaches, and technical directors, to share their experiences before and after the advent of foil. Today, the sport is perceived and approached in an entirely new way, where speed reigns supreme, with all the implications that come with it. For the sailing world, it has been a true remedy, attracting hundreds of young enthusiasts back to the water through these 'new means' that prioritize fun above all else. It has brought about a complete renewal, a breath of fresh air that has reignited the passion and joy of engaging in water sports.

ANDREA MADAFFARI, ATHLETIC TRAINER Trainer of national and Olympic athletes, former America's Cup on Moro di Venezia, Azzurra, and Mascalzone Latino

"The arrival of Foils has not just modified, but completely revolutionized the approach to racing, given the high speeds involved. It has also completely changed the physical approach to the equipment due to this new element, which engages the entire body. Foil athletes need to develop not only muscular strength but also reactivity and the ability to respond to fast and sudden stimuli. The speed of the vessel involves all the physical and sensory qualities of the athlete, who must also read the racecourse at high speeds and receive continuous feedback. The faster they go, the quicker the motor response needs to be transmitted from our control center, which is the brain. Therefore, conducting a foil requires a holistic approach to athleticism.

Despite the impression of light flight on the boards and flying boats, such vehicles are extremely demanding because they combine the classic movements and qualities required for the operation of any boat with increased physical endurance. The body undergoes constant tension as all the attention is amplified by the speed. This tension is vivid at the muscular level, even though the athlete may not have a very noticeable range of motion. This is what fundamentally changed the approach to sailing. Today, a generation of foil athletes is emerging, young individuals who already possess these qualities. Age profoundly affects both the approach to foiling and the operation of the vessel.

Personally, I really enjoy foiling, but I realize that these athletes are different from those of 20 years ago, not necessarily better, but different, just as the type of race is different. It is a different game in which our bodies work differently, and it is a true and beautiful revolution. Although I have a strong attachment to traditional America's Cup, the last two editions have been quite spectacular as well. As a coach and particularly as an athletic trainer, this new challenge is truly stimulating. I have radically changed my approach to training the young athletes I work with due to the different physical qualities required."

ALESSANDRA SENSINI. OLYMPIAN AND CURRENT YOUTH DIRECTOR OF THE ITALIAN SAILING FEDERATION ISAF World Sailor of the Year (2018). The only woman in the world to have won 4 consecutive Olympic medals in sailing (1 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronzes)

The new generations are irresistibly drawn to foil sailing, where fun and rapid skill acquisition come together to create an exciting and engaging experience. Here is Alessandra Sensini's experience with this unstoppable new phenomenon:

"There is an incredible desire among the youth to sail on foils, to fly; a new drive that I had never seen before. Certainly, it is a type of sailing that is more suitable for young sailors. At the beginning, there was some fear about how to teach it, considering that there have been a few accidents in both the sailing and windsurfing worlds. It is amazing to see how quickly young sailors learn to fly and the enthusiasm that allows them to keep learning.

Training and race formats have changed to meet the needs of the young sailors, making it more fun than ever. It is a new way of sailing that has now become unstoppable. As the Italian Sailing Federation, we have promoted youth foil disciplines throughout the national territory, thanks to the Foil Academy. Within three days, the kids were flying and some were even mastering the maneuvers. Sailing needed this kind of phenomenon, especially with the lowering of the age level in competitive sailing. The approach to training has also changed for the coaches, who have had to study new parameters, new exercises, and new targets. The entire environment has benefited from it. It is a new challenge, a complete reengagement, which is always very stimulating and beautiful for those who love sports."

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