Freedom, novelty, accessibility: in the spotlight this week at the Mondial du vent in Leucate, in the south of France, wingfoil, the latest in table sports, windsurfing and kitesurfing, whose course is done with a spirit pioneer and creative. .
Long-time windsurfer Flora Artzner didn’t really fall in love with the wingfoil at first sight: “It’s been a while since anyone told me I tried it, but I don’t. didn’t find it very pretty in the water.”
The “great lover”, says the 29-year-old player, once hit at the table, towed by an inflatable wing held by hand. “We have a crazy feeling of freedom, the impression of flying above the water thanks to the foil.”
This aluminum or carbon appendage, inspired by those used in America’s Cup or Vendée Globe racing boats, lifts the board and seems to make the racers levitate.
Several dozen of these very mobile fluorescent butterflies compete until Sunday in Leucate, at the foot of the Corbières massif, as part of the Mondial du vent, competition nautical reference born a quarter of a century ago in this windy region.
Appeared a little over three years ago, the wingfoil has already made a name for itself in the industry. “Its growth is exponential, much faster than the sailboard and kitesurfing,” says Tom Hartmann, head of the discipline’s World Circuit (GWA).
The reasons of this success ? Partly “the simplicity of the equipment, light and compact”, specifies Nicolas Akgazciyan, windsurfing champion and owner of a school in La Franqui, near Leucate. “With two wings, a board and a foil, the story is resolved, towards the trunk of a Mini.”
Less dangerous than kitesurfing without lines that are sometimes complex to master; easier to assemble and maneuver than a windsurf board; usable even in light winds… the wingfoil seduces a neophyte public (provide 2,000 euros for all the entry material).
“I’m starting to have a real demand from people who have come out of it and who are seeing it more and more on social networks or on television”, says Nicolas Akgazciyan. “Because it’s + instagramable +, all young people are getting into it.”
“It is still looking”
At almost 25 years old, Titouan Galea is almost a veteran of the circuit. Coming from kitesurfing, the Caledonian became last year the first world champion in the history of wingfoil.
“It’s a pleasure to mark the history of a sport. It will never take me away,” he says. “It’s been 20 years since there was a revolution in the nautical sports after kitesurfing. So it’s definitely trendy right now, but we don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
The youth discipline is currently contested on the world circuit in the form of speed races or freestyle, with figures, but “nothing is 100% resolved yet”, notes Tom Hartmann. “We change our rules every year.”
It’s still being researched, we’ll see where it leads”, confirms Flora Artzner, which recently organized an event, the Roca Cup, where a “boardercross” format was offered, inspired by snowboarding, with obstacles to overcome. .
“There’s a great desire to do different and more advanced things,” he says. “We are in a time of sport where everything is possible and where you can be super creative. It’s incredible to experience that, like those who experienced the beginnings of windsurfing.”
It was in the 1960s. He hadn’t been born yet. Neither does Instagram.
29/04/2022 19:40:00 –