Whitehead to showcase kite foil thrills at Olympics

Fuelled by a need for speed, Breiana Whitehead is thrilled she will get to showcase 'high-adrenaline" kite foil sailing in its Olympic Games debut next year.

The 23-year-old from North Queensland began sailing at age eight and switched to kitefoiling seven years ago, attracted by the speeds reached.

"The absolute speed of it, it was new, and I love a new challenge and something to try," said Whitehead, after becoming the first person named on Australia's Paris Games sailing team.

"When we're going as fast as we can, it's somewhere around 37 knots, 39 knots, so that's about 70 km/h."

Kite foil sailor Breiana Whitehead is the first sailor to join Team Australia for Paris 2024.

I'm stoked that I'll be racing in the debut of kitefoiling in the Olympics and keen for the world to have a front-row seat of our high adrenaline sport."

Whitehead achieved a quota place for the Paris Games after placing 11th at the world championships this year.

Kite foil has a board with a hydrofoil underneath, allowing the board to be pulled along above the water surface by the kite attached to the sailor.

Whitehead began kitefoiling when it was just breaking onto the sailing scene, and has seen the sport develop enormously, having made her international debut in 2018.

"The foils nowadays are actually better, the development (in kitefoiling) has been incredible," Whitehead said.

"When I learnt it probably took me three months of crashing....three months of trying until I got a straight run."

Breiana Whitehead
Breiana Whitehead demonstrates her kite foil skills off Sydney's Botany Bay.

Whitehead said her experience in traditional classes of sailing assisted her in kitefoiling.

"There's so much from the sailing background that can really help on the racing side of things...all the prep that you do to get yourself ready before the start," Whitehead said.

"We still race like sailing, there's still tactics and strategies that translate across all classes...the high speeds is really the difference."

Whitehead's father inspired her to take up sailing at the age of eight and she says if it wasn't for her dad, she wouldn't be an Olympic team member now.

"The person who has helped me the most has been my Dad for sure. He drove me to events growing up, we make boards together, he's been the one who's given me every opportunity to make it mine," Whitehead said.

The Olympic kite foil competiton will be contested in the waters off Marseille.

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