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Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta - Day 1: Light winds foil World Youth Champion's debut

by Michael Brown / Yachting NZ 16 Feb 20:44 PST
Josh Armit training off Wakatere BC ahead of the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta - February 2022 © Adam Mustill Photography

Josh Armit always saw himself going to the Olympics sitting down. That was until a couple of years ago and now he's gunning for the 2024 Paris Games standing up.

Men's and women's windfoiling will make its debut in Paris when it's hoped a New Zealand windsurfer will compete at the Olympics for the first time since London 2012.

Armit is among this country's top windfoilers and today was due to compete at the first day of the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta at the Wakatere Boating Club. The event also incorporates the windfoiling national championships but the fleet of 40 boards were thwarted, like most of the rest of the competitors, by a lack of wind.

The forecast for the remaining three days is a lot more encouraging and promises some exciting racing among the windfoilers.

Windfoiling has quite literally taken off in this country and rejuvenated windsurfing. The class makes up the biggest fleet at the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta and more and more people are giving it a go as the foiling revolution takes hold.

Armit was one of this country's most promising dinghy sailors, having won the ILCA 6 (Laser Radial) at the 2018 youth sailing world championships in Corpus Christi (Texas, USA). He was seen as a potential Olympian in the Finn class before it was announced the heavyweight dinghy would be dropped after the Tokyo Games, which left him in limbo.

"Over Covid I took a bit of a break," Armit said. "There wasn’t too much happening but some mates were into windfoiling and they got me out to have a go. I was hooked first go."

Armit is now part of a group of windfoilers about to venture to Europe to see how they stack up internationally. They'll compete at three regattas in the leadup to May's European championships at Lake Garda and then focus on October's world championships in France.

"With it being a new class, we don’t really have any benchmarks so we’re going over there with a completely open mind," Armit said. "We want to be as competitive as we can and give it our best. We’re definitely keen to give it a good crack."

The four men and two women will come under the watch of JP Tobin, the 2012 Olympian and former windsurfing world championships bronze medallist.

Tobin has been coaching the windfoiling squad for the past two years and is excited about the potential within the fleet. They've tried to get offshore to compete over the past couple of years but been thwarted by Covid-19, so there's a sense of the unknown.

"The talent is pretty raw but we’re positioned really well," he said. "I imagine they are going to be ball park with their speed, world class with their fitness and now we just have to get them racing.

"We’re under no illusions about how hard it's going to be because we are going into an environment where people have been actually racing in big fleets for two years. The game is already at a really high level so this first foray into Europe is going to be all about racing."

The Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta is being contested at three different venues across the North Shore, and three races were possible for both the 49er and 49erFX fleets racing off the Murrays Bay Sailing Club.

Erica Dawson and Micah Wilkinson, who competed in the Nacra 17 at last year's Tokyo Olympics, took an early lead in the 49erFX fleet and Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie scored three wins to lead the 49er fleet.

Results and standings from the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta today:

49erFX (9 boats)

1st: Erica Dawson / Micah Wilkinson (Murrays Bay Sailing Club / Ngaroto Sailing Club) 1 1 4 - 6 points 2nd: Jo Aleh / Molly Meech (Torbay Sailing Club / Royal Akarana Yacht Club) 3 3 3 - 9 pts 3rd: Alex Maloney / Olivia Hobbs (MBSC / RAYC) 6 5 1 - 12 pts

49er (5 boats)

1st: Isaac McHardie / William McKenzie (RAYC) 1 1 1 - 3 pts 2nd: Logan Dunning Beck / Oscar Gunn (Wakatere Boating Club / MBSC) 2 4 2 - 8 pts 3rd: Scott McKenzie / Blake McGlashan (RAYC / MBSC) 4 3 3 - 10 pts

Full results click here

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