When U.S. SailGP team member Rome Kirby set out to the end of the earth, Fogo Island, Newfoundland in Canada, he was on a mission to find out what is possible when combining extreme temperatures and foiling. His plan was to sail his Moth–a small dinghy with hydrofoils –around the behemoth icebergs that make their way down 'Iceberg Alley' on the Labrador Current.
Rome is an accomplished sailor who has competed in multiple Volvo Ocean Races and America's Cups and has earned accolades for at times being the youngest crew member in these events. He comes by his talent naturally, as he and his father are believed to be the only father and son to win the America's Cup. Continuing to excel in his career, in 2019, Rome joined the U.S. SailGP team.
Travelling two full days from his home in Newport, Rhode Island, Rome arrived at the most northern tip of Newfoundland, where the rocky landscape juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. Roughly 25 km (16 mi) long and 14 km (8.7 mi) wide, the island has just over 2000 people and is known to hit winter temperatures of -8.5°C (16.7°F) on land and -1.6°C (29.1°F) in the water.
On his first day there, Rome had the opportunity to launch his Moth in Fogo Harbour. His first experience in the icy waters was short-lived, he had to push hard to lift the hull, and his attempt ended with a capsize. As he was pioneering this, he had no one to turn to for advice and had to learn on the spot. His first lesson was that everything is more challenging in the cold. It impacted his speed, technical abilities, and physical and mental performance. It was especially obvious when a task like rigging his boat, which at home would have taken him 10 to 15 minutes, was now taking two hours.
The next three days of harsh weather meant no chance of getting on the water. But by their final day, conditions improved enough for Rome to try again. Realizing that he wasn't prepared to head offshore to where the icebergs were, especially since there was no hospital nearby, he stuck inshore. And although he had to set aside his original goal, he did prove successfully that his unique idea of pushing the boundaries and foiling in these northern waters was possible by ripping his moth around the harbour. Leaving Fogo Island's desolate and wild environment with plans to return one day, Rome says this was an experience he'll definitely remember.
"I've sailed in some very remote locations but the coast of Newfoundland on "Iceberg Alley" is one of the most extreme environments I've ever faced. On our expedition we were pushing the boundaries of what's possible with foiling technology in some of the coldest waters ever attempted. The Mustang Survival EP kit was essential to not just keeping up safe but also performing at our best in such a place."
- Rome Kirby
Our EP Collection
Rome is wearing the EP Ocean Racing gear in Foiling Fogo. This collection – jacket, spray smock, and salopettes – uses Mil Spec 6.5 GORE-TEX® and can be integrated for high-performance full-coverage protection against drenching when on the water.