The PWA World Tour started back up again in Israel. A new spot, Tiberias, and a new discipline. Slalom with wind foil and windsurfing. The riders choose which to use. You would think the choice is easy, light wind foil and when the wind picks up, onto the fin. It looks like the choice is a bit more complicated than that. Let’s have a chat with the team and find out their opinion if they like the new format of racing. 

TWH:- Registration must have been a little bit more complicated than usual, especially as it was the first event. What are you allowed to register and what did you register?
BASILE:- Was not easy to register the gear as all the windy events got cancelled… The thing is Korea can be windy, maybe not strong enough for 5.6 but who knows. In 2018 we did some races on 6.2 small board. We are allowed to register 7 sails and 4 boards. From my side I choose to not register small foil sails, is it a mistake ? The future will tell haha. But I’m hoping for strong wind from the left in Korea and short break in Salt 😉 I registered : 5.6-6.2-7.1-7.8-8.6 and 7.7-9.0 foil sails. Boards: 98-118-138 and 178
RYTIS:- Sails: Point-7 F1 SL 9.0 / 7.7 Point-7 AC1 8.6 / 7.8 / 7.1 / 6.2 Boards: Future Fly Flying Camel 187 Future Fly Dark Horse 132 / 117 / 97
Francesco: No doubt it was harder than ever to register all the equipment haha. Personally, I decided to go for 2 slalom foil sails 9.0 and 7.7, and ac1 slalom fin sails from 8.6 to 5.6. I also registered an IQFoil mast foil, and 800, 720,650 front wing, with 105 and 115 fuselages. Lot of paper to fill in!

TWH:- The first elimination went as I thought it would go. It started in lighter winds, so you were on the foil. As the heats went on the wind increased, so there was a change to fins. What is it like changing a discipline during a race?
BASILE:- It’s not easy to switch but I think I’m now use to it. You just need to have everything ready on the beach, analyse the conditions and keep the focus to take the good last decision. In race 1 i was on Foil for the quarter and then I switched to fins. The guys on foil with super small sails were going very good as the racecourse was set close to the shore in gusty-shifty wind.
RYTIS:- It was difficult to time the moment to switch as you were for sure faster with the fin on the first straight, but then mark 1 and 3 were in wind lulls. So, my strategy was to only switch to fin when I believed that the possibility of hitting a lull in which I would stop at the mark was less than 30%
Francesco: Personally, I don’t feel it difficult anymore! during training sessions we are often used to switch from fin to foil, so it wasn’t hard to do it on competition.

TWH:- To some it was a shock but not to those who know Nicolas Goyard, strong wind foiling is his speciality. Did his results mean you had to change your plans of when to use the foil?
BASILE:- Nico showed us that foiling can beat the fins even in windy condition, it does not mean that it can happen in every spot because Tiberias was very special. But for how long ? I’m training all year long with him and what I can see is in offshore wind the wind is always gusty and the foil got huge advantage. When it’s more constant and wavier I think the fins is still a good tool. Let’s see in Croatia but I going to train more on small foil sails to be ready to fight in any condition.
RYTIS:– Not at all, I was concentrated on my own race, and I was looking for the equipment combination that would get me around the course the fastest. Nico only showed us the possibilities of the foil and now it is up to us to expand our skills to be able to match him
Francesco I ‘m a big fin fan! I definitely have to say that! But Nico showed us the potential of the foil in strong wind condition, and I’m pretty sure that it surprised most of the windsurfer in the community. Personally, I will try to push my limit as much as possible on foil, trying to become comfortable in stronger condition. Helmet and impact always in the accessory bag!

TWH:- Watching, the straight-line speed looks similar between foil and fin. The difference is in the jibe. Is this what makes you choose what to use?
BASILE:- The foil is always faster on the jibe. But from my side I was not ready and tuned to race in small sails in foil, so even in gusty wind in Tiberias I went with fins. But as said before I’m going to train on those small foil sails to be ready in any condition.
RYTIS:-Straight line speed is similar only if you compare Nico or William to slalom fins, if you take someone else on the foil, they will be slower on the straight. So, after all you need to evaluate your own skills on foil and compare that versus your speed and performance on fin.
Francesco: I believe that jibes on foil are way easier and faster compare to fin, but I wouldn’t say that it is the only advantage you can gain from foil. Instead, I’m convinced that in gusty and shifty condition, like Israel was, foil allows you to go for a wider line, reduce risky, and avoid stopping in wind hole.

TWH:- For most of us, foiling is a light wind choice and flat water. I personally hate foiling in gusty winds. (It scares the S**T out of me.) In Tiberias it was very gusty. How the hell do you hold onto the foil in the gusts?
BASILE:- Pffff I think you cannot believe how gusty it was ! The gust was around 25 knots all the time whatever the condition was. Sometimes it was constant 18-25 knots but most of the event you hear on the radio « 5-25 knots on the course area » and you knew that you must go foil in crazy strong condition. I had one massive crash on a semi-final, I hit the gust and just completely exploded
RYTIS:- I have been sailing in gusty lakes in Lithuania all my life so I am kind of used to such conditions. It was not a shock to me. The main thing is looking forward and upwind and reading the water surface to understand the wind, the gusts and how they are moving. If you don’t know if the gust is coming from the same direction, with a shift to downwind or upwind then you cannot prepare for it. So, the first phase is always understanding where the gust is coming from.
Francesco: It was hard. Gnarly as F***k sometime. Gusts were suddenly coming strong and usually from another direction. I risked crashing so many times on the rich.

TWH:- During the off period, at P-7 we did a lot of development on the foil sails, plus fine tuning the AC-1. You have now had a chance to really use them in competition. What are they like?
BASILE:- The slalom sails are working very good since years already. The F1 are quite new on the range but what I can tell you is for 2022 it’s going to be winner sails !!
RYTIS:- on the 7.7 the cams rotate easily, and the sail is very stable and easy to handle when you are overpowered. So that makes it much more comfortable to sail in gusty conditions.
Francesco: They are stable, fast, great acceleration, and the design is awesome. Love the black on the sail, make it sooo nice and cool. This is my 7th year on Point7, I guess there are many reasons why:)

TWH:- Elimination 4 saw good wind for using fins. The racing was great to watch. However, it brought up a question. Should foil and Fin race together?
BASILE:-My opinion is no and a big NO !! It’s just 2 different sport and mixing create sometimes unfair races. I’m not scared to go foiling in strong wind if it’s the same for everybody, it become unfair when one got the lucky choice by going with fins. I’m also not scared to go 8.6 big board in the light, if every other rider got the same gear than me ! Mixing was good to see which one is better, with the spot we have on the calendar this year it’s clearly in favour of the foil. What happen is we are going to go with super small wings and smaller sails in the future, but is it really what several windsurfers are doing ? I think I never saw normal windsurfer going in 25 knots with 300cm2 wing on his home spot. Except PWA rider who want to push the limit. We are going to much extreme all the time with the rules, with the gear…
RYTIS:-Yes, I don’t see a problem with it. We are the ultimate windsurfing racing class, and the fastest equipment should be used by each sailor – the fastest equipment for him. If Nico Goyard is faster on foil in 35 knots and 2-meter swell than he is on fin… then let him use it. If someone comes to a flatwater spot with consistent wind and kills all the foils with 9.0 and 140l fin board – amazing. Let the people cheer for fin vs foil! It creates drama which is amazing.
Francesco: For that elimination I was on my 7.8 and medium, but I had an OCS , and I felt so bad because I really wanted to race on fin!

TWH:- Elimination 6 saw the upper limit for foil racing now. Once the fins can be fully planing out of the jibes, they are faster. What equipment did you use for this elimination?
BASILE:- Yes fin is still in the game… I was on my 7.8 AC1 and 118 Invictus.
RYTIS:- 7.8 AC1 and 117 Dark Horse
Francesco: For that elimination I was on my 7.8 and medium, but I had an OCS , and I felt so bad because I really wanted to race on fin!

TWH:- Taking foil slalom over 25knots of wind showed that there is a lot of room for development, especially from manufacturers. This would also mean a lot more training time is needed. Is there enough time in a day to train both Foil and Fin?
BASILE:- Sure with foiling now there is so many hours of training to do to improve the gear and your skills. In traditional slalom fin all the brands are more less on the same level. I mean there is so many years of testing and development behind that it’s not like you can come with totally different idea and do faster sails. But I’m sure soon the difference will be less and less…
RYTIS:- Yes, for sure. It is very simple, – the more work and time you put in the better you will get. If someone is too lazy to put in the work for both fin and foil, then they don’t deserve to be on top.
Francesco: Nice to change a bit. The biggest job remains to the brands.

TWH:- I must throw a question to ANDREA. We have now seen foil speeds equal to fin sailing, the foil guys are already working on faster foils. The boards will also change to be more aerodynamic. Feedback from the team is going to be very important. How do you see the development of the sails?

ANDREA:- We have been working a lot for 2022. It was a year of discovery. The discipline is new and it was nice to test all areas of the sails to see how the foil will react to the changes. The most difficult part is to balance comfort with speed. On fin slalom comfort makes you faster, on foil not always. The sail needs to work almost the opposite to normal fin sail, so we explored new materials, new masts, new battens,  to be able to have a full picture of what opportunities we could have to develop a very competitive sail. We are still working on 2022 sails for foiling, while all other sails are already entering production. We want to bring the development of foil sails till the final date possible as the discipline is in it’s full evolution. I think is a pity that foil equipment cannot be custom in these first years. It would allow a very strong and modern development of the gear instead of having limitation and having to wait the year after. Especially now when we are discovering that foil will not be used only in light wind. We have seen the PWA crew not cancelling heats where in the past they would have due to change of wind direction or intensity for a fin to be competitive, so this will force riders to use the foil also in stronger winds, us to develop smaller foil sail sizes, for windy super gusty spots like Israel. In the meantime, there was the event in Croatia where the wind seemed more constant and nice, and foil was used only in lighter winds, but also true to say that the real foil specialists who showed skills in Israel, were not at the event. Let’s hope to have more events so we can have a better picture and feedbacks from the riders.  

TWH:- It was great to watch racing again, especially once they had sorted out the camera angles. Tiberias looks an amazing place to sail and race. What is it like to be racing again?
BASILE:- It’s amazing to be back on the starting line, to have this kind of routine, going to the spot-preparing the gear- racing- eating and sleeping well to be 100% ready for the next days.
RYTIS:- Amazing. Loved it. Huge thanks to Arnon and all the local organisers for putting on this event in such a difficult time.
Francesco: Is such a nice feeling, that’s really what we live for, and I’ve missed it so much. I wish we’d a competition every weekend like formula 1.

TWH:- Let’s see when the next event will be. I will look forward to following it.

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