Stoking out our youth is an important part of the future of watersports. As we’ve seen with the creation of mega-athletes like Kai Lenny, Zane Schweitzer, Izzi Gomez and others, the younger generation thrives under the conditions of family and community support, encouragement and accessibility towards growth. A huge shout out goes to the Lennys, the Schweitzers and Izzi’s mom, Brandi, who has been driving and flying her SUP world-champion-turned-WSL-athlete to competitions since she was a little girl.
In addition to family support, our future generations of water athletes need the nourishment of the tribe. This means the community that surrounds them and the events that elevate their ambitions, as well as the brands that get behind young athletes striving to make a difference. It takes a village, as they say, to create impact.
Here is one such initiative from F-ONE, a leading brand in making innovative kiteboarding, foiling, winging and paddleboarding products. Their goal is to motivate upcoming athletes through their Next Generation program. Through F-ONE’s patronage, several young wing foilers recently had the opportunity to showcase their talents at the SailGP Championship in San Francisco, meeting with U.S. SailGP team members and gaining inspiration and support from them. Mahalo, F-ONE! We salute you.
F-ONE: Next Generation Grom Squad
“The ocean is our playground, equipment is our passion, fun is our goal! “ That is the F-ONE culture, a brand of watersports enthusiasts whose mission is to maximize every condition to stay on the water as long as possible.
Launched in 2013, the F-ONE Next Generation initiative has already helped train and educate more than thirty young kitesurfers and wing foiliers. Selecting riders, all under 18 years of age, F-ONE offers them the opportunity to travel, train together and be mentored by an all-star team of F-ONE professional riders and sporting experts.The up-and-coming riders discover what it takes to become a professional rider and to be better athletes overall. The coaching staff supervises in-water training, and also leads workshops on physical conditioning, mental preparation, nutrition, digital communication and self-marketing.
At a recent Next Generation training camp in February 2022 in Tarifa, Spain, team leaders included Nicolas Delmas, a 3X Next Generation alum and coach of the French youth national team, Titouan Galea, 2021 Wingfoil World Freestyle Champion, Maxime Chabloz, third-place finisher at the latest leg of the GWA Wingfoil World Tour and 3X kiteboarding freestyle Junior World Champion, as well as Mallory de la Villemarqué, GWA Wingfoil World Tour head judge. This elite team helped to organize mock heats at their training camp and instructed the Grom Squad on the official rules of wing foiling competition.
Next, they launched them in front of a crowd of 6,000 at the March 2022 SailGP Championship races.
What a Day!
It was a crazy day on San Francisco Bay for the SailGP Championships on March 26-27, 2022. Competitors and spectators witnessed collisions between France and New Zealand’s boats as well as crashes between Spain and the USA. Two races had to be abandoned and then restarted, including the Grand Final itself, due to a whale entering the race course. (Go whale!)
However, the Sail GP Championship event - which eventually crowned Australia as the overall winner - bore witness to more than its usual excitement as the Sail GP INSPIRE program invited F-ONE’s Next Generation team to participate in a foiling exhibition in front of the crowds in an effort to make the sport of foiling more visible to the public.
INSPIRE: SailGP Pipeline to Professional Competition
Inspire Racing, hosted by SailGP, offers opportunities for local youth in order to connect them with the pinnacle of professional yacht racing. The Inspire program is a genuine talent identification pathway for young sailors under 21 to gain exposure on the world stage, and offers the public a close up look at the progression of foil sports. At the March SailGP championships, the F-ONE Grom Squad had the rarest of opportunities to go behind the scenes, meet the U.S racing team and offer an exhibition on the F50 race course, directly in front of the onlooking crowds on race day.
Wing athletes from the F-ONE Next Generation Grom Squad executed their skills on a wing foiling slalom course showcasing new and exciting possibilities from within the sport of foiling. This effort by SailGP to showcase wing foiling to a larger public audience saw over 6,000 dedicated racing fans in attendance. The Grom Squad clearly had its moment of glory.
With F50 boats on the course or in the background, wing athletes and the WASPZ team raced the slalom course. Then the wing foilers put on a show boosting their jumps and even executing 360 flips as part of the showcase to the crowd’s roars of approval.
Representing the F-ONE Grom Squad in this monumental event were the following wing athletes:
Morgan Ostermann: age 14,
Morgan Headington: age 15,
Christopher MacDonald: age 16,
Patrick Kissinger: age 14,
Kai Potter: age 15,
Luca Vuillermet: age 13.
Also part of the group but not at the SailGP event are Mary Rose Kissinger, age 17 and Chloé Ostermann, age 17.
As the Australian F50 racers celebrated their much desired championship Sail GP title at the end of the day, world champion Aussie racer Tom Slingsby honored the moment by saying, "We can call ourselves the best sailors in the world. That is more important than money. Glory lasts forever, and it really feels like that."
Glory lasts forever. On a day which hosted a dynamic showcase for the F-ONE Grom Squad at a world caliber racing event, it really did feel just like that. Ride on!