Unable to head to the Canary Islands sunshine because of pandemic restrictions, our resident watersports fan Maz Gordon journeyed to England’s sunny south coast to try her hand at Wing Foiling.
My “holiday wife” and I had planned to go to Fuerteventura this year. Owing to You Know What, our trip this was cancelled, so when we saw a deal for the Parkdean Holiday Park, we decided to go for a beach holiday at Camber Sands in Sussex instead.
I’d been thinking about learning to Kite surf for a while. However, when I spoke to some local wind sports experts, they recommended I try a new sport, Wing Foiling, as you get many more days with the right weather to go out in. Wing Foilers are those people who look like they are surfing above the water as they have a foil under the board that lets them “fly” above water level. They are propelled by a handheld “wing” instead of a kite. Apparently, it’s much safer than other wind sports and I’d be less likely to pick up an injury which, it has to be said, is A Good Thing.
I powered up the laptop and found that The Foiling Collective, the UK’s leading Wing Foiling school, hold lessons in Littlestone, just 20 minutes from our caravan park. One phone call and I was soon persuaded that our staycation was going to be a Wing Foiling holiday, so I booked us both in for three one-to-one beginner lessons.
We awoke up to see the trees bending at the boughs. I was worried this would mean no wing foiling but when we contacted Jimmy, our instructor, he explained that when it’s a higher wind, we could just use a smaller kite. Our first lesson kicked off on the beach rather than on the choppy channel, and Jimmy taught me how to control the wing and, once I had got the hang of using the wind to take me downwind, I quickly progressed onto the water. The wind definitely made staying on the board a challenge, as I had to turn the board each time before the waves could flip me over. The foiling collective provided me with a full kit including a helmet. As I was a beginner, I started with a large board, similar to a SUP board used in paddle-boarding, and was told that I’d progress on to a smaller board once I’d learned the basics.
On the plus side, having a very windy day to start with made day two seem much easier. It was much more straightforward not only to get on the board but to stay on it for longer.
By day three, I was loving my new hobby so much that I’d sought out a second hand foil online! The lovely guys at the Foiling Collective sell equipment and were really helpful with advising me about what to buy, so in the end I got some of it new and some second hand. It’s not a cheap hobby from the point of view of buying equipment but my rationale was that once I’d bought equipment and had some lessons to get me started, there are no weekly outgoings as the sea is free. I planned to standing up on my board by day three but I was much more confident kneeling than standing! Baby Steps!
So, after three lessons, I had a suntan on my hands and face and was hooked on my new hobby. Be prepared to feel your arm muscles and to give your abs a decent workout: it’s hard work to get it right but immensely satisfying when you do. Highly recommended for watersports enthusiasts!
For more information about Wing Foiling check out: https://www.thefoilingcollective.com/