Antonio Cozzolino can see a good future for himself in windfoiling and demonstrated that last weekend when he took out the Giltrap Audi New Zealand Windfoil Championships at the Manly Sailing Club.
The 33-year-old has been on the international RS:X circuit for the last couple of years, and was 54th recently at the RS:X world championships in Sorrento which qualified a spot for New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics, but felt like he was playing catchup throughout after taking six years off to become a barrister.
Now, though, Cozzolino feels ahead of the curve, especially as he's been a windfoiling disciple and was one of a handful of individuals pushing for windfoiling to replace RS:X on the Olympic programme.
"Having been involved in all that development and pushing the sport in that direction, I definitely want to keep being involved," he said. "The  Paris Olympics are definitely something I would like to aim for.
"I have been told by others that it’s something that would suit my style. I don’t disagree. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is but I seem to have more of a natural aptitude to windfoiling than some other classes. Whether that’s because others haven’t really taken it up yet, I’m not sure. I will tell you in a year’s time.
"The world and European championships are due to be held later in the year and I would certainly like to go to those two and have a crack and see where everyone is at."
A strong fleet of windfoilers has emerged in New Zealand and about 50 competed at the national championships at Manly.
Cozzolino finished ahead of former Olympian JP Tobin, with Australia's Julien Savina third. Tim Wood took out the silver fleet with Gary Hill second and Veerle ten Have third and first female overall.
There was a good mixture of talented youngsters and older riders spread throughout the fleets which added to some healthy rivalry as well as a good atmosphere.
"It was a really nice, casual vibe," Cozzolino said. "It was nice to have a broad range of people there from the young kids who are just starting out and the older, recreational sailors as well as everyone in between. It’s kind of a rare thing in Olympic classes definitely, but other classes generally, to have that range of people.
"What New Zealand has been lacking for the last 12 years is a really strong fleet – grassroots, middle of the fleet, youth and that level below senior. We instantly gained that overnight when the foiling kicked off.
"There’s a bunch of younger sailors who did really well in Australia and that’s really promising. They all push each other and that’s how, as a country, you get better, so it’s really good to see. Things are looking much better than they have for a long time and that’s really promising."
Results and standing from the New Zealand Windfoil Championships at the Manly Sailing Club:
Gold fleet (23 boards)
1st: Antonio Cozzolino (Watersportsverbond) 1 1 3 2 1 3 (7) 4 - 15 points
2nd: JP Tobin (Wakatere Boating Club) 2 10 1 1 4 (24 DNF) 1 1 - 20 pts
3rd: Julien Savina (RQYS) 6 7 (12) 3 2 1 5 5 - 29 pts
Silver fleet (20 boards)
1st: Tim Wood (Manly Sailing Club) 2 1 2 4 3 (21 DNC) - 12 pts
2nd: Gary Hill (WBC) 1 2 4 (12) 2 8 - 17 pts
3rd: Veerle Ten Have (Tauranga Yacht & Power Boat Club) (21 DNC) 8 5 1 5 2 - 21 pts
- Windfoil New Zealand have just created a new website, which has information for learners and experienced racers, as well as some cool videos. Check it out here.