After a good amount of time off the water after damaging my ankle at Blackrock Sands it has been nice to get out kiting again. It is pretty fustrating not being able to be active in the way I am used to. Instead of channeling the energy into something else constructive I just ended up binge watching TV.
After a great session at Brean (photo above) en route to Exmouth for the EDGE Race Cup I got to watch a load of people ride foilboards all weekend. After a load of chat and the show put on by some of the world’s finest foil riders I knew I needed to cough up and get one for summer. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I am the proud owner of a Sroka Foilboard. Let the foil diaries commence!
First up I nerded out on tutorials online. Sroka have a couple good videos. Liquid Force have a good video series too. Once you have the theory though – its time to work on the practical side.
Day one – left work early to beat the traffic – spent two and a half hours doing a drive which normally takes an hour and twenty. I was excited. The board still needed setting up which obviously took way more time than anticipated and the tide was all the way in and the wind was lighter than expected. Once built, it was time to head into the water.
General handling of the foil in the water is a nightmare. Body dragging is tricky. It takes some effort to get out to deep enough water, and once there, a combination of strong current in the same direction as the wind is blowing (cross shore) means I am losing ground pretty fast. The wind is super light and keeping the kite in the sky requires effort. Not idea learning conditions. After struggling for an hour, hitting my feet and legs on the foil several times and a few short runs, I realise it is time for an emergency return to shore.
Its not graceful – but I manage to get a random bystander to grab my kite on the sea wall as I body drag/swim in. I clamber over the rocks and up the sea wall making sure my new foil comes to no harm. Not the start to my foiling career I had hoped for.
Day two – this time the wind is stronger and slightly offshore. Again a struggle to get to water deep enough, however once out I start to get the hang of things. Lining the foil up to get on it is tricky as it wont stay still, but I get some good long runs in and fly upwind. Now getting downwind is an issue – I have to body drag downwind. I added a few more bruises and cuts to my legs and feet. This is how I hoped my first day had went. The learning curve is steeper than I expected.
Day three – After yesterday’s success I am keen to get out again. The wind is much stronger and there is some wind swell. After opting for a 13m kite the last two times, this time I go for my 7m. This was going to be quite different. Getting out went pretty well all things considered. I am getting the hang of the foil in the water and manage to avoid any new cuts and bruises. Getting on the foil is tricky with the waves but I managed to cruise around and ride a good distance in each direction despite the water conditions and the small kite.
The big issue with waves if when you do fall off, the foil rides the wave all the way back to shore, so a fair bit of time is wasted recovering it and getting back out to deep water. I am starting to ride with a bit more speed and can feel the foil lifting at times.
I am now feeling confident with riding back and forth with the board in the water. Next time I will be looking to build my speed and start getting the board out of the water and on the foil. As I spend less time in the water body dragging and fighting the board it should become less tiring too.
After many hours on the water a bbq is just what I needed.