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Air Force Tech flies above the waves

Air Force Avionics Technician Patrick Haybittle is on the hunt for Olympic Games selection as he prepares for the first qualifier, a world championships windfoil event next month.

18 July, 2023

Corporal Haybittle will compete in the IQFoil class in the Allianz Sailing World Championships from 14 to 20 August in The Hague, Netherlands.

IQFoil is a windsurfing class with a hydrofoil under the board. It has been newly selected as a class for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

CPL Haybittle has two events under his belt this year; the Princess Sofia regatta in Palma de Mallorca – his first international event on the IQFoil – and the European Championships held in Greece.

His performance as part of the Kiwi team in Spain and Greece qualified him for the Worlds. Securing a good placing there could lead to Olympic qualification.

He’s pleased with his Europe results, climbing the IQFoil rankings from 51st to 35th. It comes after having to pull out of the 2022 World Champs in Brest, France, after contracting COVID.

Fitting in training and international competition with his work hasn’t been easy. The Air Force has been very supportive, he says, but it’s still meant some stints of leave without pay.

“Ideally I’d want to be on the water five or six days a week, but I do both days in the weekend and as much as I can around work. You just have to be really smart in fitting in your training and your work.”

CPL Haybittle has been a windsurfer since age 13, and took up windfoiling as it came on the scene a few years ago.

“It’s new and exciting, and lots of people are doing it,” he says. “I won the 2019 National Championships and I’ve been placing well in other Nationals since then. The wind range is much better with windfoiling, you can work with light winds, down to six knots. Recently I did a personal speed best of 53 km/h – which is quite exciting.”

He leaves on July 21 as a training partner for the Hong Kong team, then joins his Kiwi colleagues in The Hague for the World Champs.

Photo credit: Sailing Energy / iQfoil Class