Josh Armit has continued his impressive start to the international season, claiming top-10 finishes in each of the four races in his qualifying fleet overnight to move up to fifth overall on day two of the iQFOIL European championships in Greece.
The 21-year-old Aucklander booked his spot in the finals series after battling winds in excess of 30kn that saw racing delayed for more than two hours.
Armit will be joined by teammates Thomas Crook, Eli Liefting, Patrick Haybittle and Veerle ten Have who all qualified for three days of gold-fleet racing starting late tonight (NZ time).
“It was good to line up in conditions that we haven’t raced in for a long time and really test ourselves,” Armit said.
“It was definitely at the upper wind limit but I don’t mind it. For me it’s still about figuring things out in different conditions – Palma was a lot different to what we’ve seen so far this week – and I’m happy to just get through qualifying.”
Armit, who only started windfoiling early last year after a promising youth career in the ILCA 6 (Laser Radial), has hardly put a foot wrong in 2023. He won the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing regatta in a fleet peppered with international sailors in February, before finishing fourth in a star-studded line-up at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma de Mallorca, Spain last month.
He also won last week’s pre-European test event to be considered among the early favourites in Patras.
“There’s plenty of racing left in this regatta and I’m still working everything out as I go,” Armit said.
“It’s very early in my windfoiling journey and I’m just learning as much as I can every day and having fun doing it.”
Day two was slightly less fun for Crook, who had to contend with a broken mast shortly before launching – but still managed scores of 18, 9, 11 and 15 to sit 17th overall.
Liefting (33rd) and Haybittle (40th) also finished qualifying in the top half of the fleet.
Frenchman Nicolas Goyard retained his lead from the opening day and is six points clear of Dutchman Huig Jan Tak, with German world champion Sebastian Koerdel third.
“It was pretty much about survival at times for the boys today in some of the windiest stuff they've had. They showed plenty of board handling skills to just get around the course…with all four making it to the gold fleet for the first time [this season],” said coach Nathan Handley.
It was a tough day on the water for ten Have, New Zealand’s top female windfoiler, with unforced errors negating her excellent speed and solid first-lap performances.
“It was a day of what could have been for Veerle with mistakes and a collision costing her valuable places in each of her four races,” said coach JP Tobin, the 2012 Olympian and former windsurfing world championships bronze medallist.
“Race three was particularly frustrating for her as she led into the final mark only to be taken out by a competitor, ultimately recovering well to salvage a top 10.”
Ten Have remains firmly in the medal hunt, however, in 13th overall ahead of gold-fleet racing and the medal series.
Israeli star Sharon Kantor leads the fleet after victory in all four qualifying heats, with compatriot Tamar Steinberg and Sara Wennekes of the Netherlands rounding out the top three.
Results and standings after day 2 of the iQFOIL European championships in Patras, Greece.
Women’s fleet (89 boards)
1st: Sharon Kantor (Isr) (15) (10) 2 2 1 1 1 1 - 8 points
2nd: Tamar Steinberg (Isr) 3 (8) (9) 1 2 2 2 1 - 11 pts
3rd: Sara Wennekes (Ned) 2 1 2 1 2 (4) (11) 3 - 11 pts
13th: Veerle ten Have (NZ) 8 2 7 4 (11) 6 7 (17) - 34 pts
Men's fleet (114 boards)
1st: Nicolas Goyard (Fra) (1) 1 1 (24) 1 1 1 1 - 6 pts
2nd: Huig Jan Tak (Ned) (5) 3 1 (12) 2 2 2 2 - 12 pts
3rd: Sebastian Koerdel (Ger) 2 (9) 2 1 (7) 3 2 5 - 15 pts
5th: Josh Armit (NZ) (10) 5 6 3 2 4 (10) - 22 pts
17th: Thomas Crook (NZ) 6 2 5 (17) (18) 9 11 15 - 48 pts
33rd: Eli Liefting (NZ) 14 (19) 18 (22) 17 12 12 11 - 84 pts
40th: Patrick Haybittle (NZ) 16 (30) 8 9 19 22 28 (30) - 102 pts
Full results here.