X-15 Class: the One-Design from FreeWing and Starboard explained by its designer Rémi Vila and rider Clément Colmas

We’ve been talking about it for some time now on TotalWing: the X-15 Class! The X-15 Class is a proposal by FreeWing and Starboard for an equipment class for one-design wingfoil racing competitions. The whole philosophy of one design competitions is to enable athletes to compete on equal terms, with the same equipment, so that the best wins, rather than the best and best equipped. Launched several weeks ago, the X-15 Class is going on tour this summer to showcase this new wingfoil regatta format. After a first test event during Foiling Week at Lake Garda at the beginning of July, the X-15 Class events have been following each other all summer, with the very first X-15 Class competition held in the Netherlands. So, we wanted to find out more! And who better to tell us about it than Rémi Vila, designer of the gear, and Clément Colmas, talented FreeWing/Starboard rider? They tell us about the genesis of the X-15 Class project, its objectives, and also talk about the gear, its performance, and in particular the X-15 board.

Photo : Luca Piana

Hi Rémi, hi Clément! I’ve brought you together for this interview to talk about the brand-new X-15 Class, a one-design wingfoil class created by Starboard and FreeWing, from both the designer’s and the rider’s point of view. So, first of all, what was the genesis of the creation of this X-15 Class?

Rémi: One Design has always been the best way to separate riders, judging only on their performance, provided of course that they’re in the right weight range for the class. The wing is developing very rapidly, but, if one day it wants to have a much more serious status, there are things that need to be seriously improved, such as its range of use. Today, regattas tend to be above 11/12 knots, which is clearly insufficient. Having worked on the creation of the iQFoil, which works from 6 knots upwards, my aim was to make something as close to this as possible, using the latest windfoil developments and adapting them to wingfoil.

Photo : Alessio Tamborini

We all know that on today’s Wingfoil Racing circuit, the equipment is open for the riders. However, at the beginning of the year, it was mentioned that equipment classes might eventually appear. Do you think it’s normal for the evolution of the wingfoil race to move towards one design?

Clément: From an athlete’s point of view, I think it’s great. It’s very frustrating for many people not to be able to express themselves the way they want to in a regatta because of a difference in equipment performance. I think it’s good to keep the two race formats, as the “one design” races will push riders to perform better, while the “open design” races will help improve and develop the equipment, which is also great.

What does the X-15 Class kit consist of?

  • 2024 Starboard X-15 – 6’0″ x 21″ x 5.1″ – 80 L
  • 2024 StarboardFoils X-15 : Slalom mast 95cm Carbon C400, Fuselage Alu Jumbo 69, Front Wing 820 + 560 & Stab 200
  • 2024 FreeWing Pro V2 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0 & 6.7 with triming system. Only two sizes to choose from.

Photo : Luca Piana

In my opinion, the main eye-catcher in this kit is the board: a board that looks a bit like a windfoil board, rather long and voluminous. Rémi, what drew you to this shape ? And what are the main features of this board?

Rémi: The story began in January 2022 with Clément, who wanted a higher-performance board. I drew on the X-15 windfoil development and, with him, adapted it to wingfoil. It was an immediate success and, above all, it opened up a door unknown at the time: the possibility of taking off more easily in much less wind, while having a very easy board even in rough conditions (Défi Wind), so a huge range of use. This is the key to starting a One Design.

Photo : Martina Orsini

This board is relatively narrow and long to facilitate take-off, as short and wide are the enemies of gliding in displacement mode. The large V also means that we’re no longer afraid of touchdowns, and can even be an advantage when relaunching the board on the foil. The fins help reduce turbulence and make the board very stable in flight, especially in strong winds.

But that wasn’t enough. We asked Martin Fischer (foil designer for the America’s Cup AC75) to design wings for us to further improve the low range, and bingo! We got specific 820 cm² frontwing, 107 cm wide and another for much more wind in 560 cm², 80 cm wide, all with a 69 cm fuselage and a 200 cm² stab. The result was so interesting that Clément is seriously considering using them in this year’s Wingfoil Racing World Cup regattas.

Photo : Martina Orsini

Clément, at the Défi Wing, we saw you go super fast with some of your X-15 Class gear, board and foil in particular. Can you tell us what kit you used in those extreme conditions?

Clément : Yes indeed, I used the X15 85L (which is the one chosen for the Class) on most of the runs, but also the 100L. It was the best test we could do with this board. Normally in these conditions, we use boards with very little volume around 40L to have the least wind drag and more stability, 85L would only be for light conditions to favor an early take-off. By finishing 4ᵉ at the Défi with this gear, I think we were able to prove its performance in all conditions. This versatility can be explained by its aerodynamic shape, which makes it more stable in the wind and reduces its drag in the air.

Photo : Jean-Marc Cornu

Now that you’ve been sailing with this equipment for several weeks, can you give us some feedback?

Clément: This board allows me to do everything. The equipment combines accessibility and performance, and as I said earlier, the board performs very well in both light and strong winds. The 820 foil is exceptional in its range of use too, with extreme efficiency upwind and downwind, and it’s also surprising to reach speeds of 26-27 knots with such a foil. The wings are pleasantly stiff and reach super top speeds.

Photo : Luca Piana

You were both at Foiling Week on Lake Garda in early July, where the X-15 Class was demonstrated. How did it go? What feedback did you get from the riders present?

Rémi: Regarding our first presentation at Lake Garda, the feedback was very good, even if there’s still room for improvement, especially on the wing, to further extend the range of use. Performance was particularly impressive upwind and downwind, and in the low range, which enables us to start racing much earlier than is possible today, without penalizing speed or the fun factor.

Photo : Luca Piana

Finally, in concrete terms, what are the objectives of the X-15 Class?

Rémi: The plan is, of course, to be recognized by World Sailing and more if we can.

Thanks Rémi and Clément for your answers, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the X-15 Class! In the meantime, you can find the next dates of the X-15 Class events on their official website.

More about FreeWing:
Official Website / Facebook / Instagram

More about X-15 Class:
Official Website / Facebook / Instagram

More about Starboard:
Official Website / Facebook / Instagram

To follow Clément Colmas :
Facebook / Instagram

To follow Rémi Vila :
Facebook / Instagram

About the Author

Laurie Montagner

From SUP Racing to wing foiling, through windsurfing, wakesurfing and surfing, you will always find Laurie somewhere in the South-West of France. Passionate about watersports, Laurie spends her time surfing, whether on the wave... or online! Laurie is indeed a specialist in social media marketing and web development, from writing lines of code to making professional videos. Very much a competitor, you've probably already met her on one of the SUP and wing events all over France!

To follow Laurie:

  • Facebook Link
  • Instagram Link
  • YouTube Link