On Saturday 6th August, the Isle of Wight WASZP fleet came together to race for the first time in what is believed to be the island's first dedicated foiling regatta. Boats from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and Sea View Yacht Club gathered at Seaview for the island's first official class race.
There are a lot of foiling classes out there, but the WASZP is the class that is bringing this foiling technology and this new, thrilling side of sailing to the masses. The simple design, portable nature and relatively low cost has seen several island sailors 'joining the swarm' over the past year. In addition, both Seaview Yacht Club and the Royal Victoria Yacht Club sailors have been introducing the boat to many other island sailors to share the experience of foiling far and wide. Looking to the future, island sailors plan to travel to some of the major WASZP championships in the UK and further afield as the buzz for the class grows. RVYC sailor Martin Evans took part in this year's national championship in Weymouth and Portland, scoring a 7th place from a 56 boat fleet.
When the fleet of 7 WASZPs rigged on the beach at Seaview on Saturday, they were greeted by glorious sunshine and very little wind - perfect for a day by the sea but not so good for wind-driven racing. Nevertheless, with no lack of enthusiasm, the sailors took to the water in search of breeze alongside a number of supporters and budding young sailors that were keen to be part of the island's first foiling regatta.
After a short drift, the breeze began to creep in with enough for racing to get under way off the moorings at Seaview. The futuristic WASZPs lined their course up alongside the traditional wooden Seaview One Design dinghies that were enjoying their evening racing, making for quite the contrast of designs old and new! Crowds of spectators looked on from the decking of Seaview Yacht Club with drinks in hand and tunes aloud on the speakers on this perfect Saturday evening.
The first two races got under way in non-foiling conditions, with the wind not quite strong enough for the boats to take flight. Add in the typical Solent current and the racing wasn't simple! Martin Evans took both races, with Luke Sheridan and Mark Irons exchanging places in second and third. As the sun began to set, the wind filled in and the boats began to fly! The sailors were set for a glorious golden hour with two more races in foiling conditions. Evans took the third race, holding off challenges from Steve and Luke Sheridan, who both made attempts for the lead by getting up on the foils early on the tight racecourse off the Seaview moorings. Evans couldn't complete a perfect record in the fourth race. Despite leading off the line, Evans was forced to watch Luke Sheridan foil past effortlessly as he sat low in the water struggling for speed. Evans fought back and returned the favour, but Sheridan repeated the same move on the third lap to seal his first win of the regatta!
After the four races, Evans took the overall win, with Luke Sheridan and Mark Irons tied on points in second and third. Big shout outs also go to Seaview Yacht Club, Caspar Gray and Guy Lawrence for organising and Steve Sheridan, Ian Osbourne, Mike Raber and Louis Lawrence for joining the fleet and making the racing enjoyable for competitors and spectacular for the crowd on the shore.
A return bout is being planned at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club for the next WASZP regatta, so watch this space for more Isle of Wight foiling! Any island sailors interested in trying the WASZP should contact Martin Evans on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guy Lawrence, the captain of our foiling initiative, writes:
Who wasn't impressed with the way foiling - in all its forms - has begun to impact our sport of sailing? What many of us saw in the Americas Cup last year, and in the ongoing Sail GP series, is truly awe-inspiring. With boat speeds of up to 100kph, the sport of sailing has leapt forward and potentially changed forever. It's clear from the members survey that several SVYC members want the opportunity to learn to foil or at least deepen their understanding of what the possibilities are.
I have agreed to lead the SVYC foiling initiative. I am already the owner of a foiling Waszp. I am stunned by what was possible with foiling, and with the Waszp in particular, and loved the idea of accelerating - or rather flying - to 25 knots in seconds. While I did spend much of last summer swimming I am getting there and am very keen to share my experience and knowledge with other members.
So you want to foil off Seaview?
The following material is written to help provide you with some tips and thought starters to make it easier for you to do that. We will add to it over time.
On April 30th we ran a small talk on foiling off Seaview with Martin Evans WASZPs UK class manager.
Here is some background reading. This piece in Yachts and Yachting is a good place to start. As is this piece in Boat International for a selection of the most popular dinghy options, but also many others as well if you want to experiment a bit. You Tube is also full of lots of helpful videos of many of the various options - some links below.
In the piece below I explore two types of boats
Waszps: Sept 21 video. An Islander Harry who bought a second hand Waszp from Netley Sailing Club and sailed it over to his club in Gurnard. Easy. He was joined by Martin Evans who is the Waszp class manager, and is available to help us / you as needed. Message me for an intro.
Waszps are popular because they are a lot cheaper than the Moth (circa £13k new and £6k-£9k second hand), with similar high performance. Not as fast, or as "tweaky", but very popular, and relatively easy to learn to sail. Off Seaview +/- 3 hrs either side of high water, better with an off-shore breeze, as it will be flatter. 12-20 knots. 14-18 is the sweet spot.
The team at SailingFast, led by Duncan Hepplewaite will help and give you all the information you need if you are seriously considering buying one. https://sailingfast.co.uk. There are 2 Waszps in Seaview Yacht Club membership currently (Andrew Murray is the other owner). About another 6 based in other clubs on the island, and the class has circa 1000+ in the UK.
I find that its best to sail with a support rib, and a colleague. That way you can rotate in and out of the boat, plus it makes launching / landing easier.
There are various courses in both the UK (RYA and Waszp class run) and overseas at Mar Menor, but they do require you to take your boat.
The pinnacle of small boat foiling. Expensive at c£30k new. More second-hand options from £10k-15k. But if you want to beat Tom Slingsby.
A sailing world piece is here.
We have one member with a Moth. So if you are interested we can introduce you.
There are many many options. We will add to this over time. Hopefully this will give you a flavour and will act as a start. Do join our whatsapp group. Do contact me if I can help at all.
See you in Seaview.