After the first day of racing at the 2022 iQFOiL World Championships was abandoned due to no wind, it meant that there would be just the one day to arrange qualifying for the Gold Fleet. This was always going to mean there would be extra pressure, which when combined with a shifting breeze, made for a genuine challenge.

Commenting after returning back to shore, Caelin Winchcombe (Australian Sailing Squad) said, “It definitely was tough. The courses often had marks laid directly in the lee of a hilly shoreline, making the wind very patchy and gusty.

“My goal going into these worlds was to qualify in Gold Fleet, however we just had the one day of qualifying, and unfortunately the races didn’t go as well as they could have s I have ended up in the Silver Fleet.”

Winchcombe has been windsurfing/foiling for just over three years, having done most of his youth sailing in the ILCA 7. He grew up three hours South of Perth in Dunsborough, where Primary School friends got him started in Minnows and Pelicans. The Olympic dream became more present when he won the Laser 4.7 State title in 2014, after which he got to travel to national and world events. He is now at university in Perth, “sailing fairly continuously”, as he puts it, with great access to coaching and mentoring.

The Australian team’s iQFOiL Coach, Arthur Brett said after the debriefing, “Wind conditions for the only day of qualifying were 6-15 knots, mostly from 110 degrees. There were three slalom races, and one course race conducted. It really was a super-challenging day for the Aussie men and women.

“We are mostly a very young team, and unfortunately don’t have all the bases covered at this stage. Days like today are invaluable as we build our experience bank. There were some encouraging signs, such as a heat win to Grae Morris. We are looking forward to racing tomorrow to continue with our progression.”

Grae Morris himself said of that win, “It honestly felt like a ‘this is where I belong’ moment. I know I’m fast enough to be up there constantly, I just have a bit more learning and experience to cover off before that’s going to happen. It’s annoying and frustrating to be stuck in Silver Fleet, but all I can do now is learn and gain from these experiences.”

Morris has been windsurfing for 12 years and on the foil board for a little under four years now. The rest of the squad in Brest finished the first day of racing thus: Jack Marquardt finished in 135th and in the Women’s fleet, Samantha Costin is in 70th place, and Amelia Quinlan 99th.

Gentle Southerlies, to Sou’easters are set to remain for the forecast period, with mild conditions on offer for Brest. The athletes spent five and half hours on the water today, and this could well be the norm moving forward. Fleets are now split into Gold, Silver and Bronze. There are three further days of racing before the top ten advance to the medal race series.

Racing is from October 17, and concludes with the medal races on Saturday, October 22, 2022.

Main photo: Grae Morris. Photo Eric Bellande