Duffy Danish definitely found her ‘carrot’ to keep kids coming back. When the Norfolk Yacht & Country Club sailing director took over the program, she quickly realized many kids were burnt out with normal racing. “We needed to recalibrate their concept of what messing around in boats is.”
“So when I saw the Foiling First grant application last year I was like, ‘That's it. I'm applying for this because these kids need something more.’’
NYCC in Norfolk, Va., has an impressive base of youth sailors throughout the year: 430 kids participate in summer camps; with 100 high school sailors training at the club annually; plus the core year-rounder kids.
While Danish and NYCC were approved for the Foiling First program last year, logistical challenges delayed the activation. She first considered the entry-level foiling boats, which are fantastic for the clubs that have the space and ability to purchase. But at NYCC, space and budgets were a limiting factor.
“I remember hearing Jimmy [Spithill] talking more and more about his passion for wingfoiling, and it helped to spark the idea of bringing this new discipline to Norfolk. Plus, it's undoubtedly cool, right? When you see the things people like Kai Lenny are out doing, it’s just so cool. The next generation of sailing is becoming an athlete's game – it’s changed from guys who look like Dennis Conner to guys who look like Jimmy.”
Working with the U.S. SailGP Team, NYCC staged three Foiling First wingfoiling camps this summer, working with the team athletes and coaches to develop their curriculum remotely while the team was competing. Team CEO and Driver Jimmy Spithill even called into the camps to offer tips and answer Q & A’s with the kids.
Adding to this, the U.S. SailGP Team’s #RacefortheFuture Partner RISE led DEI training workshops with the NYCC youth at each camp as the team encouraged the next generation of athletes to help drive greater inclusion in the sport.
Danish said it did take a bit of cajoling to fill the first camp’s 12-kid capacity, but once word spread she now has waiting lists for camps and kids clamoring for more.
She is thrilled with the response and most importantly, the excitement the kids now have for wingfoiling and loves the fact it’s such a low entry point for the younger sailors to purchase their own equipment.
“We always joke with the kids, saying ‘Are you guys ready to go yachting?’ But while we joke about it, the truth is this really is the new yachting and this generation has the ability and the responsibility for changing how this whole sport that we love is viewed.”
Considering a Foiling First Wingfoiling program?
- Easy set up; with low barrier to entry and use in multiple wind ranges
- A safe way to learn the basics of foiling and get on the water easily
- The Foiling First wing foiling program is completely scalable with a light footprint at each location.
- U.S. SailGP Team athletes and coaches advise on the curriculum for each Foiling First wing foiling camps and can be available to participate in the camps in a variety of formats
- RISE inclusion training workshops for Foiling First camp participants
- Price is affordable with low overhead investment
- Apply at FoilingFirst.com