|Photo credit: Luca Villata|| |
During the late 90's a whole new concept of boards and sails became available on the market. These early planing boards and big sails made it possible to have "funboard type" competition in a wider range of wind speeds, with planing races from 7 knots. The concept of Formula Windsurfing began in France, where competition was successfully pioneered in 1998. On 24th March 1998, in Brest, the first Formula Windsurfing contest was held with the top 20 French Funboard sailors. During the 4 day competition ten races were held in winds of 6-12 knots. The event was won by Erik Thieme on a 2.75m board powered by a 10.0 sq.m sail.
A new class...
With the new designs it seemed logical to create a new class that could take advantage of the new technology to appeal to the grassroots windsurfer and allow more visually exciting competition. The new class was formed by joint effort of the International Board Sailing Association (IBSA) and the International Funboard Class Association (IFCA).
During 1999 many national Funboard associations included Formula as a discipline in their national racing circuits and had its first world championships.
Formula won the support of the Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA), the major windsurfing industry brands, and the windsurfing press world-wide. Throughout 1999 and 2000 the class and its supporters campaigned for Olympic status. They failed in their bid, but since that time Formula Windsurfing has grown and developed into the largest global windsurfer racing class. The Formula Windsurfing Class was adopted as an ISAF "International" class in 2001. The Formula class tried again to win the bid to be the Olympic class in 2004 but with the following Olympics being held in China where there is an average wind speed of 4-6 knots the board again was rejected for Olympic status, despite outperforming every other board in over 7 knots of wind. Instead ISAF chose the RS:X which was a hybrid cross between the old long board and the Formula board.
One board, 3 sails and 3 fins can be registered for each event. Most men register for an event a 1m wide board with the largest allowed sail sizes of 12.5m, 11m and 10m. The women are limited to an 11m sail area so they tend to choose sail areas of 11m, 10m and 9m. The fin cannot be longer than 70cm, so there has been much development into Formula fins to create the most powerful and efficient fins that go with the boards available. While Formula racing is much like Olympic racing with the same courses and similar start sequences, there is more emphasis on the equipment used. The races last between 30-40min and then there is usually time between races to rush back to shore to change a sail or a fin depending on the wind and wave conditions to optimize performance.
Special mention to www.formulawindsurfing.org, www.rsxclass.com, www.neilpryde.com, www.f2surf.com and www.windsurfing-academy.com for some of the information and pictures on this page.