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Strong motivation on the first day Caribbean Foiling Championships 2022

by Caribbean Foiling Championships 10 Dec 2022 15:15 PST December 9-11, 2022

This Friday, December 9th marked the first day of the 2022 Caribbean Foiling Championships in Orient Bay. It's the third edition of this watersports' championships, growing as foiling gets popular and attracting racers from the entire Caribbean region.

Saint Martin is placing itself as a popular destination for foiling

The practice of foiling has become popular in recent years. It consists of adding a hydrofoil under a kitesurf or windsurf board to limit water resistance which elevates the rider above the water. As such, foilboarders seem to be floating above the surface in a fast, free and fluid movement. The discipline has been included in the next Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

This third edition of the Caribbean Foiling Championships, growing after two successful editions, attracted racers from the entire Caribbean region. Young riders are well represented with an entire family from Guadeloupe and Bonaire. ''We have never foiled in waves'' said the three sisters De Jong of 12 and 14 years old, traditionally training in Bonaire lagoon's at the Jibe City spot with flat waters and competing in the wingfoil section.

Saint Martin is a beautiful spot for foiling, with a large sandy bay and blue waters in Orient Bay. The event is sponsored by the Saint Martin Tourism Office to show the island as a watersports' destination. It's also an eco-friendly event with no single use plastic allowed, water refill stations and sunscreen provided for contestants by the local brand St Maarten Nectar.

Abnormal wind and waves conditions for this edition

With a low wind and high swell system in the Atlantic, organizers Maxim Van den Pol and Sacha van der Wouden said: ''we tried to make the most of the morning and go full force on the races for this first day''.

The 45 registered contestants were called a couple of days prior to the race to explain about the wind conditions. This turnout shows that interest is growing and that the Caribbean Foiling Championships is the biggest kite and windfoil competition in the Caribbean.

However, half of participants decided to postpone until next year to have maximum chances of racing. The race is officially accredited by the French sailing federation and participants gain points in the world circuit if three races are validated. Tiger Tyson from Antigua, who is training to represent his country to the Olympics had to postpone, but pointed out that the Caribbean Foiling Championships is one of his favorite races of the year, being a friendly and fun event.

Safety briefing took place at 8.30 a.m. and participants geared up feeling motivated to race ''We are ready to give it a try'' said Aurelie Garreau from neighboring St Barthelemy competing in kitefoil pro class along with Julien Quentel, the winner of last year's edition. Club Wind Adventures provided assistance to racers to pass the shorebreak especially for the younger ones. The bay filled up with kites and wings and the race was launched under the eye of Sacha Daunar, an experienced Race Official for the French Sailing Federation of Guadeloupe. Unfortunately after one race, the wind dropped and racers had to come back to shore.

Friendliness and motivation for this event

Sacha Fortune, 17 years old and participating in the French Espoirs Championship for his Guadeloupe club, is the only racer in the windfoil category but is still happy to have made the trip to St Martin to train and meet with other racers.

If the wind stays light, organizers will adapt the program over the next two days of the Championships including other water sports activities. One of the main races is the long distance race on Sunday, which, if not taking place all around the island given the low wind, might take place outside of Orient Bay if safety conditions are met.

Overall, participants are happy to discover the friendly island for the first time or to come back and see racer friends from the previous years. As a friendly-event in the friendly-island, all after parties are sponsored by Amstel Bright and racers can relax at dinners in local restaurants in Orient Bay. This Saturday a 'BBQ party' will take place, with a local DJ and ice-cold Amstel Brights. 'If you would like to meet the racers and enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the event, you are free to come as the BBQ is open to the public,' says enthusiastically Sacha van der Wouden.

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