- Ryan Palk
Idea of the Past Helps Sailors of the Future
Sailors training off Fremantle Sailing Club - Picture: Drew Malcolm
When the Ron Tough Yachting Foundation (RTYF) was created by local Perth Sailors back in 1980, the idea of racing on boards that fly above the water while being pulled by a powerful kite would have seemed far-fetched even to the most open- minded sailor.
Flash forward 40 years however and it is that very idea that has developed into one of the most exciting new Olympic classes. With support from the RTYF, Perth Kite Racing and local yacht clubs like Jervoise Bay, Fremantle Sailing Club and Mounts Bay Sailing club - Perth has emerged as a world class destination for the class.
As we know, Perth is blessed as a sailing city, and the sailors and associations are fortunate to have the RTYF support growth and innovation in demonstratable ways over many years. But this tradition of helping out sailors and classes in the region has led to some amazing results and performances over the years, and is fostering the future of kitefoiling in Perth with direct support from the Ron Tough Yachting fund to Perth Kite Racing over several years. Ryan Palk, PKR President says that “The PKR has been fortunate to see real growth based on direct support from the Ron Tough Yachting Foundation over recent years. They have showed real vision and initiative to support a class that is turning into the future of sailing".
Mani Bisschops competing in the Lancelin Ocean Classic
While the sailors are all still learning and progressing the sport, PKR members have already been racking up open and youth national championship titles, as well as having the first Olympic kiting representative from Australia – Mani Bisschops, who also received a grant from the Ron Tough Yachting Foundation in 2017/18.
But it isn’t just the top end of the sport that is getting help. With support from the RTYF, PKR was able to buy a club foil, allowing sailors and riders who were on the fence about getting involved the ability to ‘try before they buy’. “You have to remember that just a few years ago this class didn’t exist, so it is understandable that people are on the fence about getting into the class. The club foil, for the small price of a club membership, gives sailors the chance to try a fit-for purpose learning foil with support from the local foiling community” says Palk.
The Club Foil in Action
With sailing continually changing and the community around it constantly adapting, the kitefoil is offering a new way for people to experience the sport, drawing in people with sailing and non-sailing backgrounds to come together and learn the art of racing using the sailing state of mind. Here is what some of our new members have to say about their experience with the club foil:
“The Perth Kite Racing Club with the club foil enabled someone like myself, who mainly has a dinghy background (Lasers, 49er and Match Racing) to step up to the new and exciting world of kite foiling. It was an awesome experience and I now can’t wait to step up into faster gear to go racing” - Mark Whittington
“I struggled on high performance foils when trying to learn, using the club foil which is a lower aspect shape, I was able to progress more confidently and safely. I found it very helpful and it gives you a better chance of developing into an independent kitefoiler, thank you Ron Tough and PKR!” - Vaughn Bisschops
“It was really fun using it. I was amazed how little wind you needed to get going. I can’t wait to get foiling again and start progressing on my tacks and gybes for racing. I am already thinking about purchasing a foil kite in the near future so I can go racing properly” - Aaron Lees
Sailors primed for a go at the club foil
"I was keen to get on a foil after learning to kitesurf and a lifetime of sailing. With everything going on the foils these days I was pretty keen to try the kitefoil. I got my hands on the PKR club foil for a couple of weeks and it was perfect for learning. I had a few stacks but it was an awesome feeling to get foiling off Fremantle. The club foil was easy to ride after a bit of practice but was a great challenge to learn and really fun. I'm now looking to advance my kitefoiling by getting my own" - Ben Walkemeyer
“I learnt on the club foil which has now been passed on to a number of new members. It’s great because it gets people involved, often those who showed an interest in Kitefoil but weren't sure initially. With the club foil they can go out with their friends, learn together and not break the budget. For me, it was ideal to progress past that very beginner stage on gear that is fit for that purpose. It meant I could buy my own foil with a good understanding of what stage I was in, and allowed for a quicker, more efficient progression overall I think – winning all round. I’m so glad the ‘club foil’ concept is being continued and so well supported and recommend it to any other clubs thinking about developing the sport”- Ron Groenewegen
Florian Gruber from Germany competing off Fremantle in the Oceanics in 2011
The RTYF over the years has supported kite racing in various forms, helping to incubate the community into kite racing back in 2011 with support for the Oceanic Championship when the class was racing on ‘Formula Boards’. That initial support sparked a growth locally that has made the Perth Kite Racing scene so special today, with further support recently coming from industry sponsors of the club, events, hiland visiting riders.
Philippa Packer delivering a cheque to Ryan Palk at RTYF Awards Night 2019
The club foil is proving that once people have the chance to try the sport, they tend to find it a great challenge and instantly fall in love with it and join the racing community – bringing their own style, experience and passion for the evolving discipline which is great for the entire sport of sailing now and into the future. A big thank you again to the Ron Tough Yachting Foundation for the continued support of our sailors and many others across the state of Western Australia.
For further information about PKR, the club foil or the Ron Tough Yachting Foundation; please visit or email:
or email: email@example.com
By Ryan Palk