Micah Wilkinson and Olivia Mackay of New Zealand made sailing history in Newport, USA on Sunday, as they were crowned the first-ever World Champions in the world’s largest youth sailing program, Red Bull Foiling Generation. In the climax of a two-year search for the planet’s most talented young sailors, the pair that included one of only two women in the field beat out 14 other national champion teams, with sailors from Switzerland and Italy claiming second and third.
In a high-energy, high emotion celebration at Newport, USA on October 23, New Zealand sailors Micah Wilkinson and Olivia Mackay were crowned the World Champions in the first-ever Red Bull Foiling Generation World Final. When the organizers, double Olympic gold medalists Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher, were forced to cancel the final round due to winds gusting to 35 knots (40mph/65kmh), earlier results in the regatta’s high-level racing were used to determine the outcome. Joining the kiwis on the podium were Sébastien Schneiter and Siegwart Grégoire of Switzerland in second and Francesco Rubagotti and Matteo Pilati of Italy at third.
Hagara and Steinacher launched Red Bull Foiling Generation in 2015 to find the world’s most talented young sailors aged 16-20 and give them the opportunity to advance their careers through top-notch hydrofoil racing. Over two seasons, 15 national champion teams emerged from Japan, the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, France, New Zealand, Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and the United States to compete in the World Final at Newport, which has historically been home to prestigious sailing events including the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race.
“Foiling is the future of sailing, and we wanted to provide an opportunity that didn’t exist for young sailors, not only though racing these boats, but by providing coaching and mentorship,” said Steinacher. “The athletes in this World Final battled winds to 25 knots, with several capsizes and near misses, and their impressive performances have us convinced that Red Bull Foiling Generation is the perfect start on the pathway into professional sailing.”
The champions from New Zealand had won all their World Final heats with style, and as one of only two women in the field, skipper Mackay confirmed that female sailors have a place right along with the men in the high-stamina, high-speed world of foiling. “I’m so excited right now,” she smiled. “This was the biggest opportunity of my life, and I want to thank my teammate Micah as well as Roman and Hans Peter, who have taught me more than ever before. I can’t believe we’re taking this trophy back to New Zealand!”
Red Bull Foiling Generation worked in partnership with US Sailing and the non-profit Sail Newport, which hosted the event. “Newport was such an exciting place for these passionate, talented young athletes to take the spotlight,” stated Hagara. “We hope the skills they’ve learned will help them throughout their sailing careers, and especially that we’ll be seeing some of them in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, and, eventually, the America’s Cup.”
Technical data for Flying Phantom:
The Flying Phantom earns raves as the future of sailing because unlike other small boats, it uses hydrofoil technology to lift completely out of the water. The system allows it to hit blistering speeds of up to 35 knots – almost 40 mph – making it by far the quickest sailing boat of its size in the world. Length: 5,52m (18ft), width: 3,00m, weight: 155kg, mast height: 9,6m, mainsail: 18sqm, Jib: 5,5sqm, Gennaker: 24sqm, crew: 2
About Red Bull Foiling Generation
Now in its second season, Red Bull Foiling Generation sees Flying Phantom catamarans lift over the water at up to 35 knots in a novel new format. Sailors aged 16-20 compete in a series of heats on four identical boats of distinct colors until the final race determines the team that will represent its country in the World Final. The biggest youth sailing program on the planet, Red Bull Foiling Generation held regattas in 15 countries leading up to the World Final in Newport, USA.
Images for editorial use only. Credit: Predrag Vuckovic for Red Bull Content Pool