Foiling Life

Let’s be honest here. Most of us haven’t foiled. We think the foiling generation has passed us by. We’d love to have a go but are a bit worried about looking like chumps and we’ve gotten used to the cruising day boat, the cups of coffee, a berth or two for a snooze and the occasional beer-can race with family and friends to roll back the years.

Some of us still cling on to one design hopes, dinghy ambitions (guilty as charged) or double-handed glory but foiling – nah, let the kids do it and we’ll pretend we understand the tactics, the technology and the technique. We are sailing ghosts now. Irrelevant in the main. Ouch, the truth hurts.

©Foiling World

But deep down, be truthful with yourself, you would love to have a go, right? Maybe you’ll give it a try on a blue-water beach (when no-one from the yacht club can see you), towed out by a RIB to deeper water, sheet on and experience it, even if for just a fleeting moment. You’ll have a story to tell for life at the bar. The grand-kids will think you’re cool, even your kids might say “well done” – who knows?

Well, my good friend Rob Andrews of Foiling World has heard every excuse under the sun as he’s built a truly outstanding business rooted in getting people foiling of all ages and abilities. The company started out 10 years ago and pretty quickly confirmed all of our suspicions that spending £80,000 on an International Moth and thinking that you’re not only 20 years old but have the sailing ability of Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison combined, is a mug’s game.

No, the Foiling World team saw the broken boats, missing teeth, snapped foils, torn sails, beached wands and shattered ambitions of the beginners and thought about doing something better – you know, for us lot, the ones that would love a go but don’t have the talent or reflexes.

They settled on the F101 and as they say: We spent 6 years developing and thinking of nothing much more than the F101. It’s an amazing boat that has allowed many sailors who thought they couldn’t foil to get up and foil! That first time when the boat lifts, accelerates like nothing that you have experienced on the water and it all goes quiet! – that addictive moment that hooks you in as someone who wants to foil, smooth, fast carving sailing.

Okay, I’m in. I’m a sucker for the marketing and excellent prose…but wait a second. Rob emailed me last week and started using anagrams that I had never heard before framed around wing foiling. “I am most excited about a SUP c/board that you rack strap onto any SUP. Then with a wing you can learn about wing skills or if not a sailor, start to understand wind awareness.”

I’ll be honest, I had to reply with the newbie comment: “What’s a SUP?” (I do America’s Cup stuff not this beach culture stuff!). And suddenly I’m into a whole new world of ‘Stand Up Paddleboards’ either in displacement mode or being lifted airborne and propelled with neat looking wings (see pic above). Wow. This is a game-changer. This takes beach fun to a whole other level.

Everyone’s seemingly got a Paddleboard somewhere in their garage, bought on a whim and a promise of a six-pack but quickly discarded as “bloody hard work against a flood spring tide.” But put a sail on it and it’s a whole other game. We understand sailing. Windsurfing was a bore but this looks modern and as zeitgeists go, we’re in. Amazing stuff and cheap as chips too…you can get wing sailing and discover a new sport in an afternoon – and that’s almost a better story than your first dinghy foiling experience…

Almost. I’m going to park wing foiling (right up until the moment I try it) as being for the generations younger than me.

That’s a cop-out, yes I know, but boats are my thing so I’m all-in on getting foiling on an F101. I’d love, absolutely love, to try a Waszp but let’s get there eventually. An International Moth? Yes if I win the lottery and feel like sailing the nautical equivalent of a Stradivarius…but that’s a pipe-dream.

F101 to Waszp seems like a logical pathway made even more attractive by the fact that you can sail an F101 two-up with a jib. That’s taking ‘family sailing’ to the stratosphere – what kid wouldn’t want to come out on a Wednesday evening club race and blast around with their old man and be back in the bar before the barman’s even arrived? This is a seriously cool concept…

So for now, the compass is set for a first flight in the F101 with Rob threatening to bring one over for a Cowes Week blast and then we’ll see just what all the fuss is about. Cheque book is ready. Divorce papers imminent. Excited teenager waiting in the wings.

If this truly is as addictive and compelling as everyone says, life above the water beckons and sailing becomes a whole other sport. Sell the dog. Sell the car. Sell the boats. Watch this space. Sailing is about to get very, very interesting.

Fascinating. Lovely to know that there are good people out there with businesses like Foiling World. Click on the banner below and see for yourself what’s going down at the cool end of our sport.

2 thoughts on “Foiling Life

  1. Whenever a class is chucked out of the Olympics they tend to end up like jetsam on the launching pad of the Nelson Yacht Club. I think all, or nearly all the NZ Flying Dutchmen are in Nelson now. Soon we will have the Finns discarded by the flavour-of-the-month Aucklanders.

    The Flying Dutchman had a system that allowed the mast rake to be adjusted while sailing. Let the mast lean forward downwind and raked hardback block-to-block upwind. So tuning was all about mast angle and sea shape. Foilers won’t be troubled by these essential sailing skills. I doubt that you could tune the sails on the average foiler as they fixate (Like Wylie E. Coyote) on speed above all else.

    Meep! Meep! Coyote is foiled yet again.

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