Jamestown, RI, Kitewinger to Compete in Finland

Annie Tuthill kite-winging on Worden's Pond, South Kingston, Rhode Island. Photo by William Tuthill.

Sixteen-year-old Annie Tuthill of Jamestown, Rhode Island, will be heading to Finland to compete in the 2011 WISSA Ice and Snow Sailing World Championships in Oravi . Annie has been skiing since she was 3 and started kiting at 7. She put the two together at age 9 and mastered the kite wing at 10. Her first wing competition was at 14 and she competed in her first WISSA competition last year. This year she will be up against kids and grownups from Finland, Sweden Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Lithuania, Holland, and Canada in the Wing Class.

The WISAA event runs February 25 to March 6. The World Ice and Snow Sailing Association (WISSA) was formed in 1987 as a governing body for racing on snow and ice. The WISSA ISSWC is the oldest continuously run international race in the history of both windsurfing and kite sailing (ironic, given that both sports are best known for their “soft-water” iterations).

Unlike DN iceboat races that can involve miles of travel in search of clear ice, WISSA races take place at a predetermined site, regardless of surface conditions. It is incumbent upon the sailor to be prepared for the prevailing sailing surface.

Conditions at Oravi will be tricky. Temperatures last week were between 20 and 40 degrees below zero, which makes for dry, fast snow, but the winds are generally light. Proper ski waxing techniques are critical for the snow course racing part.

WISSA racing has 3 classes:

  1. Open Class: Any sled where the rider is standing. This is how WISSA got started and it relates to windsurfing rigs sailing on ice and snow.
  2. Wing Class: Any handheld foil. Design parameters are open.
  3. Kite Class: All tethered-foil designs (as in the kites that can be seen sailing in the water).

The cold temperatures and light winds will work well for the kites and, to a lesser extent, the windsurfing sleds. Wings require a bit more wind, or a faster surface to move well. The close proximity to the Russian border will make for a lively interchange in the Kite Class as the reigning World Champion Simon Gill from Montreal will go up against the world’s best snow kiters from Russia and the rest of Europe. The rest of the North American contingent will be in the Wing Class. Klaus Faisst of Toronto, ON, will join Annie Tuthill [and her dad] against the overwhelming forces from Sweden, Latvia, Finland, and Holland. While some may curse the cold weather in New England, others celebrate it and use it to make Rhode Island a year-round sailing location.

For more information about this event:


For more information on Kite Wings:


Video: WISSA 2008


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