Gen Z women sailors – Olympic pioneers

By David Pendered

July 6 – US Olympian Daniela Moroz is among the Gen Zs carrying the future of sailing into the Paris Summer Olympic Games, and beyond.

At age 23, Moroz fits the bill to compete in a hot new Olympic class – the foil kiteboard. The boat looks like a snowboard that rides above the water on a hydrofoil. The rig is powered by a massive kite that flies high aloft and is attached to the sailor’s harness by a spiderweb of lines.

Moroz has been unstoppable in her campaign toward the 2024 Olympic regatta to be held off the coast of Marseille.

US Olympian Daniela Moroz poses in preparation for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. (Credit:

She took first place in the French Olympic Week Regatta held off Marseille. Her trophies include those for six consecutive Kite Foil World Championship titles. She’s been named Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year four times, the first in 2016 making her the youngest recipient of the nation’s prestigious sailing recognition, the first female kiteboarder, and second kiteboarder to ever receive the award. She won a gold in the 2023 Pan Am Games and is a four-time Open European Champion.

Moroz also has shown her resilience, bouncing back after starting fast then posting a fifth-place finish in August 2023 at the Allianz Sailing World Championships, at The Hague.

Moroz hails from California and her personal story is compelling. It begins with two parents who escaped separately from communist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s. They met while attending a windsurfing class in San Francisco. Their daughter caught the windsurfing bug and became a fierce competitor in a class that’s physically demanding.

The boat she’s sailing has all eyes on it, as well. Heavy political muscle was expended to get it into the Games.

The foil kiteboard is supposed to fulfill a number of ambitions for the Summer Olympics. The class was included as part of a significant change in the lineup of vessels. To make way for the foil kiteboard and other new classes, boats of great Olympic lineage were retired. They include the Finn, men’s singlehanded dinghy; Soling, three-handed keelboat, and Star, two-handed keelboat.

Daniela Moroz displays how a foil kiteboard is propelled by a massive kite attached to a harness worn by the sailor. (Credit:

The new classes are to provide athletes with a selection of boats affordable to those of limited resources. For years the Laser single-handed dinghy has served that purpose. Now a foiling kiteboarder offers a platform that’s even less expensive than a Laser to campaign.

Another goal is to provide spectators with a reason to watch a sport that has been compared to watching paint dry. There’s a reason that NBC earned its nickname as “No Boating Channel” in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. Viewers just aren’t keen to watch boats race around a course.

Foils have the potential to carve a new path forward in attracting racing spectators.

Foils proved their crowd-pleasing value in the America’s Cup and this year’s regatta features breathtaking technology for the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup, which has opening ceremonies in August in Barcelona.

The level of technology that now goes into foiling sailboats is evident in this one line from a July 4 story in The British team is led by five-time Olympic medalist Ben Ainsley and the engineering is handled by the “Mercedes Applied Science division of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team who have brought deep-technology and method to the whole design process.”

The merger of the events and sailors in the Olympics and high-stakes regattas such as the America’s Cup will become evident in coming months and years. The Olympics remain the traditional training ground for elite sailors, as Ainsley continues to show. Moroz and her contemporaries will have their chances to make their mark in the Paris Olympic sailing regatta that’s scheduled from July 28 through Aug. 8.

Note to readers: To watch sailing at the Paris Olympics, reports that “Sailing at the 2024 Paris Olympics will air on E! and stream on Peacock and NBC Olympics platforms starting July 28.

US Olympian Daniela Moroz prepares to round a mark in a pre-Olympics regatta of the foil kiteboard class. (Credit: