Some of New Zealand's top windfoilers and coaches came back from the Bay of Islands empty handed last weekend - and that was a very good thing.
Coaches Gary Hill and Ian Young held an introductory clinic at the Bay of Islands Yacht Club for about a dozen teenagers keen on trying out the sport. They went north with six sets of windfoiling gear and all six were left behind with an order for at least one more, illustrating the growing popularity of windfoiling.
JP Tobin, who heads up Yachting New Zealand's windfoiling development team, took three of this country's top exponents - Veerle ten Have, Brianna Orams and Josh Armit - with him as well to show the group where the sport could take them. The trio also held a Q&A session with the sailors and their parents.
"After the nationals [hosted by the Bay of Islands Yacht Club] we discovered there was a little pool of talent there, and mostly young girls wanting to get into windfoiling," Tobin said. "They loved it. Essentially, we've dropped a fleet into the Bay of Islands. We went up with six kits and none came home.
"This is the first time we've tried something like this. It was so successful we're looking to do more in other regions. As soon as we start dropping six or seven in a region, we've got a fleet and then we'll get all the hubs interacting together. It's really exciting."
Windfoiling has seen the biggest growth of any class in this country in recent times to the point it's now the biggest Olympic class in New Zealand. Youngsters can start windsurfing at any age and gear can be tailored to match the size and skill level of participants.
Windfoiling gear is competitively priced, with introductory kits costing around $5000-$7000 and top racing gear about double that.
"When it comes to price per knot, we are punching," Tobin said. "That becomes a really attractive proposition. It's a really viable option for young kids coming through and the more kids who get into it, the more kids who will want to get into it."
- Pic: Ian Young passes on some tips last weekend. Photo: Chris Fewtrell.