I was in the middle of a bucket list kiteboarding trip to kite under the Golden Gate Bridge when I first saw a kiter on a foil board at Sherman Island. Until then I had only heard of it and seeing it for the first time was amazing, and although I didn’t immediately realize it – I had just witnessed the next big adventure of my kiteboarding journey – flying above the water with no wake in light breeze going nearly 180 degrees upwind! Whoa. – I thought to myself how amazing that must feel.
In the following years I began to see more and more riders in the Columbia River Gorge foiling. More and more riders, more discussions, costs were coming down as more gear was on the market – that is when it really started to peak my interest and last year I pulled the trigger contacting long time acquaintance John Bellacera of bellacerakiteboards.com and asked if he could build a foilboard setup. He could. he did.
John put together a great 5’2 board that I could ride with fins as a directional and by bolting on the foil it was transformed to a foil board. Only taking minutes to back and forth I was jazzed.
My first trials with foiling were exactly as everyone said they would be. Frustrating and painful. I spent two days at Rufus in low winds tring to figure out my stance, making adjustments so big that I never felt comfortable and I was getting upset because everything I understand and would do for kiteboarding was the exact wrong thing I needed to do in order to foil. -eeergh
The two days at Rufus almost put the whole kitefoiling idea off enough that I was going to give up. As the summer was winding down I decided I would try to spend off work rotation in Mexico for the winter. I decided right then that I was ONLY going to take the foilboard so that I had little choice but to figure it out or die trying.
I spent a few weeks getting ready for the trip and spent a few hours talking with friends about foiling – the tips they offered all helped me right from day one when I dragged myself in to the warm blue waters of the Sea of Cortez. Make sure your stance is balanced over the front wing. Standing taller with my legs straight helped making small posture changes that made getting up on the foil and keeping level soooo much easier. After the second day I had finally been able to get up and ride short distances which made me supper jazzed.
It also revealed a few other inherent issues that I had the pleasure of experiencing. When you are up on the foil, your almost three feet ABOVE the water. Also when up on the foil you are going MUCH faster that you expect. Going faster at a higher elevation makes the impact when crashing a LOT more painful. I could not tell which was worse at the time, reaching out trying to catch myself and almost dislocating my shoulder
or smacking my head repeatedly. BRUTAL. After the second day I told myself no more reaching out – I’m not going to catch myself so keep the arms in and I went down to Joes Garage and picked up a helmet. – After taking care of those two things – it was magic!
I’m already looking forward to getting out in the Columbia River gorge on the light wind days and working on turns and jibes. Just being able to ride opens up more kiting days over the summer.