The formal speaking section of the Forum began with a round table discussion with a diverse group, debating the accessibility of the sport across gender, age and ability.
The full and engaged audience listened to Magenta Project ambassadors Jo Aleh and Josie Glidden kick off the discussion describing physical, psychological and cultural challenges women face in sport.
Even though the professional foiling classes require a tremendous amount of strength and agility, Aleh believes that whilst technology is making the boats easier to sail, it is obvious to her that the role of women in current boats is behind the helm. “Foiling is giving more opportunities to women sailors than ever before.”
Audience member Don Montague, an originator of modern kite surfing, offered the suggestion that proposals be given to classes and events to shape the make up of fleets. “Everyone is supportive of what you are trying to do” Montague added.
The panel accepted that there are still cultural barriers to increasing the numbers of female participants in sailing but that the introduction of new class rules can help shift the gender balance.
Increasing participation for children was a goal tackled by Adriano of the Waszp class, building on the concept of role models mentioned earlier in the Forum by noting the impact of female coaches bringing young sailors throughout the week.
Filippo Ciarchi described an ambitious initiative between Acque Libere Association, top foil designer Guillaume Verdier and Italian Boat builders Persico Marine, to design a 3 – 4 person foiler for able bodied and disabled sailors to foil together.
Ciarchi added that in foiling boat trials at Foiling Week Garda,
“We had a disabled sailor who test sailed the F101 and was foiling within minutes”
There was an abundance of presenters updating progress on existing foiling projects and exciting concepts for production and entry level foilers.
High speed pioneer Paul Larsen of Vestas Sail Rocket explored the successes and failures of his previous campaigns and gave a glimpse into a future trans-oceanic foiling motor sailer that has the capacity to transport goods or people in comfort. Though most of the project is conceptual and under wraps, Larsen believes developing the concepts from his world record hunters have real applications in ocean sailing and the utilisation of renewable energy.
A broad range of designs were shared with the Forum from a trio of solar electric foilers to a purpose built foiler for sailing schools and a luxury 60ft catamaran designed as part of a Masters thesis.
Included in these presentations were the Sea Air, a foiling Mini Transat and a primer on the expensive analysis tools for engineering these fantastic craft by Paolo Manganelli from event sponsor Gurit.
The final day of 2017 Foiling Week Garda includes a v20 Electric foiling solar powered demonstration and races for all classes followed by the prize giving and buffet at host club Fraglia Vela Malcesine.