Last Friday I headed out to Napeague for an ABK windsurfing clinic. The forecast was light…6 gusting to 12…but I was fired up and eager because ABK had just added foiling to their instruction program. This was super exciting because
-I’d only seen foiling on Youtube videos, where it looked exotic and cool, and
-It’s said you can foil with small sails in light wind. That it makes light wind exciting, more fun, and shreddable with small rigs.
On the water I joined Sari, Samantha, Wilson, Neil and Jake, windsurfers of differing skill levels, who were being tutored by Andy Brandt with Radar Tom assisting on a variety of foil board types and foils. It was indeed 6 gusting to 12. There wasn't a whitecap in sight. “Pump the board up and down and keep the rig forward and to windward”. Okay.
OH MY GOD I’M THREE FEET UP IN THE AIR!
BOOM BACK TO EARTH! (water earth).
If you let the foil come up so steeply that it leaves the water (“breaching”) you come down like an express elevator. I aimed for the moon, and paid for it. But who cared…I’d had a taste of altitude, and I wanted more.
My next few attempts I got the board about a foot off the water, with the nose swinging upwind and downwind, but I was up for several seconds and it was cool. "Be sensitive with foot steering" Andy advised. This led to my first good run. Up a little, down a little less, up a little more, down a little less, up a little and all of a sudden I’m sailing in a straight line three feet above the water. It feels high! I’m going at planing speed. There is complete silence as the foil makes no sound. For seven glorious seconds I feel like I’m flying something, and then I lost it…splash.
“Stand up straight” Andy said. “Don’t hike out. You barely need to sheet in”. It worked! I was on a 6.2, but Andy said once you get good you can use much smaller sails. He was on a 5 dot something and he weighs more than me. And he was carving tricks.
The experience was amazing. Every student managed to get the board up and foiling for different lengths of time. Intuitively I thought “ten sessions and I’d be ready to carve foil jibes." This may be true or it may be fantasy, but every run seemed better than the last, particularly with Andy shouting advice.
It’s low-altitude aviation, over, on, and in the water. I’ve got to do it again ASAP. Did I mention that a 5.5 is said to be plenty of sail in 14 knots? It's a light wind gamechanger.
ABK has a clinic this coming Friday-Sunday at Tiana. If you want to learn to foil…hell if you just want to try it and know that they’ll coach you into getting up and foiling to get a taste, be there!