WING COMMANDER: WERTHER CASTALLETTI

Over the years here at Foiling Magazine, we’ve tested a lot of gear, and few brands have enjoyed such a consistently high approval rating amongst the team as RRD have. A large part this is down to the fastidiousness (that’s the biggest word you’ll find in this issue – ed.) and vision of the brand’s Senior Product Manager, Werther Castelletti.

It was about time we had a chat with him…

Hi Werther. First question, when did you first start working for RRD, and what is your primary role within the company?

I began working for Roberto Ricci and RRD almost 25 years ago. My journey with the brand started in a somewhat unconventional way. Initially, I was a supplier for RRD, providing various services and products. Over time, my relationship with RRD evolved, and I began working exclusively for this innovative brand. 

At first, my role was focused on repairs for RRD products. This hands-on experience gave me a deep understanding of the technical aspects and the high standards of the brand. As I immersed myself in the world of water sports, my role naturally evolved. I transitioned from doing repairs to designing kites, applying my technical skills and creativity to develop high-performance equipment. With the rapid evolution of watersports, particularly with the advent of new disciplines, my responsibilities expanded further. I began designing wings and, subsequently, hydrofoils. This progression has allowed me to stay at the forefront of innovation within the industry. Today, my official role in the company is Senior Product Manager. In this capacity, I specialize in the design of wings, kites, and hydrofoils. My work involves a blend of technical expertise, creative design, and a passion for water sports, ensuring that RRD continues to lead in producing top-quality, cutting-edge equipment for enthusiasts around the world.

We understand that you used to work on an America’s Cup team. Tell us about your background in foil design before you started with RRD. 

For a period, yes, I also worked for an America’s Cup brand called Mascalzone Latino, where I designed sails and wing profiles. As you might know, the America’s Cup demands perfection. During that time, I learned to pay attention to detail; every millimeter counts. Lightness and rigidity are the two essential ingredients for creating high-performance sports equipment. I've been designing for a long time, adapting to the evolution of water sports, and foiling, in particular, has gained momentum in the last four years. I had to adapt my knowledge and create and design something new and high-performing.

Talk to us about your design process. Where do your concepts initially begin, and then how do you build out from that?

Our first approach to foiling began with kite foils. As the sport of wingfoiling emerged, we saw an opportunity to innovate and develop foils that prioritize both comfort and safety. The initial concepts were focused on creating foils that were stable and easy to ride, even in low wind conditions. If you recall, the first front wings were relatively slow but had the advantage of flying with minimal wind.

As the sport evolved, so did our designs. We began to refine our concepts, making the wings thinner and faster while still maintaining a high level of comfort. This evolution required extensive research and experimentation. We initially used materials like aluminum and fiberglass for the wings, but through rigorous testing and feedback, we ultimately decided on carbon fiber. Carbon fiber provided an incredible combination of lightness and strength, which significantly enhanced the performance and durability of our products. The design process is iterative and collaborative. It starts with understanding the needs and challenges faced by riders. We then brainstorm and sketch initial concepts, followed by creating prototypes. These prototypes undergo extensive testing in various conditions to assess their performance and safety. Feedback from these tests is crucial as it informs the next round of refinements.

Throughout this journey, our goal remains the same: to push the boundaries of innovation while ensuring that our products are user-friendly and reliable. This commitment to excellence drives every step of our design process, from the initial concept to the final product.

From a technological point of view, what’s been the most game-changing innovation you’ve seen during your years of foil and wing design?

The most game-changing innovation I've witnessed during my years of foil and wing design has been the advancement in materials, particularly the widespread adoption of carbon fiber. 

Carbon fiber's exceptional combination of strength and lightness has revolutionized the industry, allowing us to create foils and wings that are not only highly efficient and responsive but also incredibly lightweight. This has led to significant improvements in performance, agility, and maneuverability, ultimately enhancing the overall experience for athletes.

Additionally, the integration of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations and advanced design software has empowered us to optimize the shape and performance of foils and wings with unprecedented precision, further pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the sport.

You recently released the new Thunder foil range. Talk to us about that, who’s it built for, and what can you expect from it when you’re out on the water?

Yes, RRD has just launched the new Thunder front wing, and I truly believe we've created something remarkable. This wing represents the culmination of extensive research, development, and testing. Designed to be agile and high-performing, the Thunder foil range is suitable for a wide range of conditions, making it a versatile choice for both advanced riders and enthusiastic amateurs. One of the standout features of the Thunder front wing is its speed. We wanted to create a wing that not only delivers high performance but also maintains a balance of agility and responsiveness. Achieving this required a meticulous design process where we focused on optimizing the wing’s shape, materials, and construction techniques. The result is a wing that offers incredible speed without sacrificing stability or control. 

The Thunder wing is built for those who seek a thrilling and dynamic experience on the water. Whether you’re navigating choppy waters or gliding smoothly in light winds, this wing adapts seamlessly, providing a consistent and exhilarating ride. Its design allows for rapid acceleration and sharp turns, giving riders the confidence to push their limits. Moreover, we’ve incorporated a unique blend of speed, performance, and pop into the Thunder wing. Pop is crucial for performing jumps and tricks, and our design ensures that riders can achieve impressive heights and smooth landings. Balancing these attributes in a single wing was challenging, but we’ve managed to create a product that excels in all these areas. 

The feedback from our initial testers has been overwhelmingly positive. Riders have praised the Thunder wing for its ease of use, exceptional performance, and the sheer thrill it provides. The advanced materials and innovative design elements make it not only fast but also durable and reliable, ensuring that it can withstand the demands of intense sessions on the water. In summary, the Thunder foil range is built for anyone looking to elevate their wing foiling experience. Its combination of speed, agility, and pop makes it a standout choice for those who want to push their performance to new heights. You truly have to try it to believe the difference it can make. We are confident that the Thunder wing will set a new standard in the industry and provide an unparalleled experience for all who use it.

We’re looking forward to testing it! So beyond the Thunder, can you reveal any details of what you’re working on right now in terms of foil/wing products?

We are currently riding high on the success of holding the FreeFly-Slalom title on the GWA in 2023, and our ambition is to defend and win this title again this year. Our focus is on innovation and performance enhancement across our range of products.

One of the exciting projects we are working on involves the development of new sails made from innovative materials. These new materials promise to enhance performance by being lighter and more rigid, which will significantly improve speed and maneuverability. Our team is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, ensuring that our products stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology and design.

Additionally, we have welcomed a new team rider, Alessandro Tomasi, to our ranks. Alessandro is incredibly fast and brings a fresh perspective and competitive edge to our team. His insights and feedback are invaluable as we continue to refine and perfect our products. His presence is already making a significant impact, and we are excited to see what we can achieve together in the upcoming competitions.

We are also hard at work on perfecting the new GOLD WING BOOM. This product has already set a high standard in the industry, but we believe there is always room for improvement. Our goal is to enhance its performance even further, ensuring that it remains at the forefront of wing technology. We are exploring new design tweaks and material enhancements to make it even more efficient and user-friendly.

These are exciting times at RRD, with numerous projects and innovations in the pipeline. Our commitment to excellence drives us to continually improve and innovate, ensuring that our products provide the best possible experience for both competitive athletes and recreational users. We are thrilled about the future and can’t wait to share more of our developments with the foiling community.  

“Our team is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, ensuring that our products stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology and design. These are exciting times at RRD, with numerous projects and innovations in the pipeline.”

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