NEDLANDS champion kitesurfer Mani Bisschops (16) will glide on his 1.1m-high kitesurfing hydrofoil at the World Sailing Championships (WSC) in Spain next month.
“As soon as you get up on the foil everything from the water goes dead silent, and it’s like a magic carpet because all you can hear is the wind,” Mani told the Western Suburbs Weekly.
Kite foiling uses a carbon fibre or light metal hydrofoil wing that lifts the kiteboard and its rider from the water’s surface in often only very light winds.
When racing, the boards can reach speeds up to 70km/h going downwind.
Mani is a Shenton College Year 11 student who was nine when he started regular kitesurfing, and he is now Australia’s top junior competitor.
His wins include the WA Foil Racing championship’s junior section, top junior and fifth overall in the Lancelin Ocean Classic Lancelin, and ninth overall and second junior in the Lighthouse to Leighton offshore race last summer.
He said racing his foil against “older guys, those about 20” pushed him and he had his eye on competing for Australia if kite foiling, or its raceboarding counterpart, became part of future Olympic Games.
With his father, Mani uses some of the skills learnt at school to make carbon fibre kite racing boards stamped with the family’s name for Austrian kite foiling company Levitaz.
“We’re not worried about Mani straying or anything because kiting completely occupies him and uses up all his energy, so it’s like any good sport,” Mr Bisschops said.
His son was just 14 when he first competed overseas, with his mum in tow as chaperone, but since then he has looked after himself, travelling the world kitesurfing circuit for two years. “This opportunity to travel, to see the world and to potentially do well in this sport is only available to him now,” Mrs Bisschops said.
The success has brought help from Duncraig’s Specialist Kitesurfing, and the Axiom and Forward WIP clothing lines in Perth.
“He now has a network of kite surfing friends in each country, so it’s like travelling with family,” Mr Bisschops said.
After the WSC, Mani will get on his regular kite surfing twin-tip board to compete in the European Kitesurfing Championships in Italy.