It is always awesome when you get such great feedback from a client. Check out this great recounting of Steves experience learning to foil.
If you enjoy kitesurfing, then you’ve most likely seen someone using a hydrofoil board within the past few years and thought, that looks amazing! Well, after deciding to take a couple of lessons with Gunnar Biniasch, who runs “the Boardroom” shop in Fuerteventura, I can now tell you that the sensation of foil boarding is better than you could possibly imagine J.
The best way I can describe foil boarding is gliding across the water on a cushion of air, the silence of being off the water adds to the adrenalin you get from cruising along at a steady 20 knots when the wind is only blowing 6-7 knots.
Why Fuerteventura and why use Gunnar from the Boardroom? The choice of location is quite obvious, its warm all year round and you would have to be very unlucky not to get out on the water because there was no wind all week long. Gunnar was one of the first few people I saw foil boarding 12 months ago on Flag beach next to Corralejo in Fuerteventura. You don’t need to watch him for long to know he is good at what he teaches, cutting through the water like a sharp knife does in soft butter then shooting upwind as if he were on a train track. At the time, I had just bought my first foil kite (Ozone Chrono 15m) for those light wind days and Gunnar offered to show me how to tune the speed system on the kite (very helpful).
Although the Chrono helped me get out on my twin tip 40% more days than I had prior to owning the kite, I spent the next 10 months reading and watching everything related to foil boarding. In the end I knew there was only one solution and that was to save up, buy one and get some lessons. During the summer, I had a short lesson while on holiday in Brittany/France. The short 15-20 minute lesson was behind a boat (similar to wakeboarding) which was fun and included some spectacular crashes. Looking back, I don’t think this is essential to try behind a boat before progressing to the kite. Gunnar’s approach for new comers is to firstly have them use one of his foil boards with a short mast. I on the other hand already had my own equipment and was too eager to use it from the start. The advantage of the short mast is that when you crash (and I can assure you that this will happen over and over during the first 1 – 2 lessons) the impact is not as harsh as you come down from a much lower height, and in fact, many of the would-be crashes are prevented from this lower foiling height.
My first (one on one) lesson with Gunnar started with simple yet highly valuable board handling tips and instructions as to how to get to the water without damaging your equipment or anyone else on the way!. Next it was to put in practice what I had just learnt together with flying the kite (easy once you’ve been shown correctly). Body dragging out, to a safe depth was next on the list of skills to learn. Although this sounds easy, I can assure you it’s not straightforward, and know that this is an area I will need more practice with in the future. And then the fun began!…. initially the energy you get from the foil is immense and you need to learn how to tame the beast! Gunnar joined me out on the water and provide clear simple instructions that helped me get up and going a few times during the first hour.
The second lesson (one day later) focused on trying to keep my upper body still, controlling the energy with minimal movements to the kite and board. Although, it was clear what I had to do, I still managed to do some spectacular wipe-outs (probably fuelling Gunnar’s amusement at my progress). Towards the end of this hour session Gunnar provided me with the necessary encouragement saying that I did well (some of the time!).
One thing you find with Gunnar, is that he lets you tell him how much coaching you want and never insists that you need lesson after lesson. Even when out of the lesson (just chatting on the beach) I gained further valuable tips and knowledge in areas that I described to him that I had found difficult.
After the two lessons I needed a rest day, this was followed by the most epic day I have ever had kite surfing. The lessons had paid off, everything clicked and I was “gliding across the water on a cushion of air” with the biggest grin on my face in the whole of Fuerteventura. Gunnar turned up at the beach later that afternoon with his camera (he obviously knew it was going to click for me) and took a couple of cool shots of me foiling for the first time. There wasn’t even any charge for the original digital images J (sometimes it’s just the small things that make a big difference in professional service). My final day on the island was excellent, which saw just me out on water alone, sun shining and with only 6-7 knots of wind, these are the days when all the other kiters envy you as you dart up and down the coastline effortlessly at speeds of 17-20 knots.
Finally, I would like to give Gunnar a big thumbs up for teaching me and would recommend any interested in learning to foil to do so. An even bigger thumbs up goes to my wife (Sandra) who let me stay out in Fuerteventura for an extra 4 days to learn how to foil board, while she returned home with the kids to start the new school term on time.