Foil progression with @iandavidv
Foiling - Yes it's hard but anyone can do it!
Foiling...where to begin?! Foiling has been an absolute game changer for me. The past year and 6 months have been awesome and my only regret is not starting this epic sport sooner. Without a doubt it is the hardest thing I have ever tried and it sucks so badly to be a beginner again and learn a new skill from scratch, however it is so worth it in the long run. Therefore, I hope this article encourages others to give it a go...honestly anyone can learn it, you just need persistence and determination!
I grew up in Kent and decided to learn to kitesurf when I was 23 - probably not the most sensible choice of sports considering I was land locked and the nearest beach was an hour's drive away. I became obsessed with kiting and after two years of tedious travel every weekend to and from my 'not so local' spot I decided to relocate to Bournemouth to be able to kite more.
Living in such an epic location, my love for the water grew which led me into the world of SUP where I started as a complete beginner. Now...I really mean a complete beginner! My first session was in Mudeford Quay where I spent the first 15 minutes wobbling on a 10ft 140 litre Stand Up Paddleboard while my wife effortlessly and gracefully paddled off without me...thanks. After a few sessions of finding my sea legs I took to the waves - when I say waves we're talking ankle high ripples - hardly Mavericks or Jaws. I was lucky enough to be taught the basics of take offs, positioning and turning by an experienced surfing friend. I was determined to improve and practiced in small conditions away from the crowds at every opportunity that arose until I was good enough to be in the line up.
How I got into foiling
Fast forward to 2019…I was still an obsessed kiter and paddleboarder, however this was the turning point where my foiling journey began. It was a choppy day with an offshore wind (which ruled out kitesurfing). The waves were dreadful and mushy - awful for SUP’ing. I spent an hour and a half pretty much battling against the current and paddling my heart out just to get onto a ‘poor excuse for a wave’. Meanwhile a good friend of mine, who had started foiling in 2018, caught wave, after wave, after wave. Ben Felton (@fenbelton) glided with ease over the chop and was catching bumps that no traditional surfer/paddleboarder would ever look twice at. I could only watch in amazement. From that point onwards I had to get into it! After begging my wife to let me buy kit and earning her approval through, washing up, cleaning and laundry duties I brought my first foil set up…and so it began.
The Next Steps
Without boring you too much this was how my foiling adventure took off. I was lucky enough to learn the basics of foiling behind Ben’s boat; getting free coaching and knowledge through rising foilers Webbo (@hyprhawaii), Woodsy (@nicthegym) and Billy (@billsbeanscoffeco). Being able to ask for their advice was invaluable and I can’t stress enough how helpful it was to speak to other foilers but also to learn how to control the foil behind a boat. It was a safe environment with no one else around and only the foil to focus on.
Despite some heavy wipeouts, face plants and windings, I took to foiling pretty quickly and I loved it. I loved the thrill, the challenge but most of all the feeling of flying over the water. I couldn’t get enough of it and to help accelerate my development I started to kitefoil and SUP foil.
Similar to my journey in SUP Surfing I practiced SUP foiling away from others; I didn’t go near usual surf spots until I was fully in control of the foil…and even then I stayed on the shoulder of the wave well out the way. This is so important for anyone thinking about learning to foil, for your own safety as well as that of others.
Winging and Dock Starting
Ten months after my first foil session I decided to learn to Wing but also dock start. Winging tempted me due to the ease of set up and it was another avenue to get more foil time. Meanwhile, dock starting seemed like a great way to practice my pumping technique as well as a way to get out on the foil when there was no wind or waves.
I would highly recommend winging to anyone looking to start foiling. If you don’t have access to a boat, jetski or efoil to learn the basics of foiling, then I feel winging is the next best way to learn how the foil rises up and feels beneath your feet.
On the other hand, dock starting requires far more experience and patience. It is a tough and frustrating process but it is so rewarding when it starts to click. A friend and I stupidly embarked on this challenge at the tail end of winter, trying to jump and land on a foil/board in -2 degrees celsius. We spent more time in the water than out of it but the reward of ‘progression’ kept us going. Dock starting has now led onto an ingenious idea of something we call 'Ladder Club'. Rick (@allthefoils) cleverly invested in a combination ladder which can be turned into a portable dock/platform to foil off. Check out Rick’s and my Instagram for more information. Yes, we look rather odd carrying a ladder down to the beach and standing on it in the sea but it opens so many more doors for foiling and allows more time on the foil which is key. Other local foilers (Jack: @jgallow1) also demonstrate the possibilities of ladder starting; using the platform to chip onto tiny ankle high swell and then ride the ripples for miles (literally miles) down the coast!
What next for me?
It's pretty simple really - I just want to improve across all disciplines. I want to be able to pump on the foil for longer, turn and carver harder on the waves, test out smaller boards and different kit as well as try my hand at tow in foiling. However, one thing is certain - it won't be easy but that's one of the main things I love about the sport! If you don't challenge yourself, push your limits or get over the fear of failure you will never progress!
For more information or if you have any questions, find me on Instagram @iandavidv and Facebook Ian David V and I am more than happy to help.