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Palk and Brett set to guide Australia's foiling future

by Australian Sailing Team 7 Aug 06:11 BST
Palk and Brett set to guide Australia's foiling future © Australian Sailing Team

Foiling is set to explode at the Paris Olympics in four years time, with kite foil racing set to make its debut and the iQFoil confirmed to replace the RS:X as the Men's and Women's sailboard equipment.

They will join the Nacra17 catamaran as foiling classes, meaning four of the ten sailing Gold Medals in Marseilles will be decided on foils.

Australia has signalled its intentions in the classes by today announcing the appointments of Ryan Palk and Arthur Brett as Pathway Coordinators for the new disciplines and equipment.

Palk (Pathway Coordinator - Kite Foil Racing) and Brett (Pathway Coordinator - Windfoiling) will be responsible for developing the pipeline of future Australia champions in their respective classes.

Their mission is simple, but undoubtably complex. They will be charged with leading the strategic direction of the Windfoiling and Kite Foil Racing Pathways and delivery of pathway initiatives aimed at supporting the development of athletes and coaches.

They will be building these pathways that will hopefully lead to an Australians standing atop the podium in these classes at future Olympic Games.

Palk is a former member of the Australian Sailing Team having campaigned in the Laser class for the London and Rio Olympics. During this time he reached a peak of number two in the world rankings for the class.

After retiring from his Olympic campaign he shifted his focus to coaching, primarily in the laser class and kite foil racing. He has coached at Club, State and National level, having been the Australian Team Coach at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and 2019 World Beach Games.

"I still enjoy pushing my own racing and learning more about how to merge the sailing mindset into what has become a truly high performance Olympic class," said Palk.

He has coached the past three Australian Kitefoil National Champions, Mani Bisschops in 2018/19 and Scott Whitehead in 2020.

"I am especially looking forward to fostering this class into the next generation of youth sailors. The future of the class is looking really promising and is sure to provide participants a path toward adventure, fun and friends - and maybe even Olympic success."

Palk enjoys a close relationship with Kiteboarding Australia (KA), who will play in important role in the development of athletes for Paris 2024 and beyond. Australian Sailing and KA recently announced their intentions to work together to develop the next generation of Australian Olympic sailing champions.

Brett's name will be familiar to many in the windsurfing fraternity, with the West Australian having won four National Championships in the class as well as two Contender Class World Championships and a joint Australian Sailing Male Sailor of the Year Award in 2002.

"My role with Australian Sailing is to provide a clear pathway for windfoilers to have an opportunity to get to the Olympic Games," said Brett. "To do this, it is essential for it to be enjoyable and inclusive for all. Critical mass is required and inclusion of all ages is essential. Our windsurfing history is rich but our most recent Olympic representation is not."

Brett spoke to the importance of foiling to the sport when he said "Foiling has rejuvenated our sport. It has modernised windsurfing and captured the attention of water sport lovers and the general public alike. It has provided us the opportunity to grow windsurfing once again."

Like Palk, he parlayed a successful career on the water in to further success from the coach boat. He is a four-time Olympic coach who has also coached three Men's Laser Full Rig World Champions and six Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 Youth World Champions.

Brett is coach of Japanese Radial sailor Manami Doi. He will continue his intense commitment of preparing her for the Tokyo Olympics alongside building the structure for the windfoiling pathway.

Palk and Brett will commence work with Australian Sailing immediately.

The Future of Foiling Webinar

Save the date to tune into "The Future for Foiling" webinar with our new Australian Sailing Pathway Coordinators, Ryan Palk and Arthur Brett.

Ryan and Arthur will share their vision for kite foil racing and windfoiling in Australia and introduce some early plans for activities across the pathway from club to high performance. The coordinators will provide tips to help you or your club get started or become more involved in these classes, discuss how we can work together to best support the growth of kite foil racing and windfoiling and will answer any questions you may have.

Please join us on Tuesday August 25th at 6pm-7pm AEST to be a part of the future of foiling in Australia, click here to register to attend.

More details to follow via Australian Sailing social media channels.

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