In only its second season, Red Bull Foiling Generation – the series created by sailing legends Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher to find the planet’s best young sailors – got a warm reception at the sailing hotspot of Kiel, Germany. The new national champions Jasper Steffens and Tom Lennart Brauckmann will move on to battle for international honors in the first-ever World Final.
KIEL (Germany) – Thousands of knowledgeable sailing fans turned out to cheer a sensational kickoff to the summer sporting season in Germany’s Kiel Sailing City on May 27-29, as Jasper Steffens and Tom Lennart Brauckmann fought off the country’s top young sailing talent to be crowned national champions at the third stop of Red Bull Foiling Generation 2016. In Kiel’s narrow inner fjord, spectators were able to get up close to the action, which spans a total of eight countries this year and will climax in the USA, where the new German champions will go up against the best on the planet in a historic World Final this October.
Home to what is billed as the world’s biggest sailing event – June’s “Kiel Week” regatta – the city off the Baltic Sea warmly welcomed Red Bull Foiling Generation as the future of a sport that’s beloved throughout the region. Red Bull Foiling Generation was created by the Austrian double Olympic champions Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher as a search for the best young sailing talent aged 16-20, and not only large crowds but a wide representation of German media, as well as VIPs including the Lord Mayor, gave the young sailors a taste of what it’s like to compete in the spotlight.
Sailing in 16 teams that included young women as well as young men, the 32 participants were introduced to foiling on Flying Phantom catamarans, which lift over the water at up to 35 knots and are similar on a smaller scale to the watercraft used in the America’s Cup. Hagara and Steinacher guided them through intensive training sessions before they raced (and sometimes capsized) in four-boat heats that narrowed the field on Friday and Saturday before the culminating action of Sunday’s final.
“To be able to foil you need special skills, and to learn from the best people in the world who can handle boats like this. Only then can you get the boat to fly,” said Steinacher. “We bring the whole infrastructure to the event, so parents don’t need to spend any money on the boats, and that’s how we find the best talent in the world. The participants who build on this experience could possibly go on to the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, the Red Bull Sailing Team in the Extreme Sailing Series and maybe even the America’s Cup.“
An appreciative Hagara added, “”Kiel is a perfect location for a sailing event like this, with the fjord, the big cruise liners and the shipyard as background to the modern foiling boats. To have a city with the sailing heritage of Kiel embrace this unique event shows these young competitors the potential for their future. We were impressed with the quality of the athletes, and I think all the participants will be going home with great new skills. If Jasper Steffens and Tom Lennart Brauckmann work as hard as I think they will, they’ll have a real chance to make an impact at the World Final.”
Red Bull Foiling Generation sees the hulls lift over the water in eight countries in 2016. In addition to initial stops in New Zealand, Turkey and now Germany, regattas will take place in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and the USA, followed by a World Final in the American city of Newport, Rhode Island that will feature 15 national champion teams. Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher are the series‘ sports directors – the double Olympic champions from Austria are also in charge of staging the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup 2017 and are the masterminds of the Red Bull Sailing Team participating in the Extreme Sailing Series.
Red Bull Foiling Generation 2016 – Kiel, Germany: 1. Jasper Steffens / Tom Lennart Brauckmann, 2. Alica Stuhlemmer / Tom Heinrich, 3. Adrien-Paul Farien / Mirco Klösel, 4. Gwendal Lamay / Luke Willim