Pics: Jono Carmichael and Kitty Gregorelli
Dual national ripper Sam Green splits his time between summers in Greece and winters in Oz. A fan of the foil, firstly from a wind driven point of view, Sam quickly adopted the SUP and surf options taking flight to Australian waves. With foilers predominantly sticking to one hover discipline we caught up with Sam to find out about his learning curve across multi-airborne tools.
Tell us when you first came across foiling and what your initial thoughts were?
To be honest when I first saw it I was pretty underwhelmed and thought it was a fad that wouldn’t take off and didn’t appeal to me. It wasn’t till I was convinced to have a go that it started to excite me.
When did you think: ‘yep, I’ll have a piece of that!’ How long from then did it take before you managed a dabble?
Well as soon as I got on the windfoil for the first time I was hooked! The progression and sensation were a huge turn on for me and I was out in all conditions that I could be trying it.
Which area of foiling did you gravitate to first? For me it was the windfoiling that I first tried and was attracted to due to my windsurfer background and the application of windfoiling being the best conditions are when it’s not windy enough to sail normally. However as soon as I had the sensation I was desperate to try it in the surf as I have surfed since my childhood in Sydney, Australia.
How long did it take for you to get comfortable with this?
The comfort on any foil comes faster than you think, at least for me and the people I have foiled with. But control can take a while, haha!
And then SUP foiling – when did the opportunity to get stuck in here crop up?
When I was working for the only windsurf shop left in Sydney this European winter I had access to two different SUP foil setups and started doing it as soon as I was comfortable on a sub 100L board.
How did you find it compared to windfoiling?
It was a bit harder and required more patience to find the right conditions and a quiet beach to learn on but the sensation of flying without a sail is genuinely more exciting and allows you to focus entirely on the foil.
Did flying with a sail help when transferring skills to hovering in waves?
For sure! The skills are all transferable and I had moved past the fear of the foil during my windsurf foiling. But the sensation on the SUP or surfboard are more pure and teaches you much more about the foil that then helped with my windfoiling more than windfoiling did for SUP.
What are the key things to be aware of when heading out to foil in waves?
Kit selection is key. You must be comfortable on the board you are using before you even consider putting a foil on it. Go somewhere quiet with a friend. You do not want other people in the line up. Outer reefs or deep water beach breaks are perfect.
Any memorable crashes or near misses?
Yeah for sure the best crashes I’ve had have been scorpioning the wind foil (where the board rolls over and the foil swings up behind you! And a few full board flips on the surfboard where you need to catch the foil on the way down to avoid landing on it. I also managed to snap a carbon paddle blade when I ran it over with the foil whilst paddling.
As far as near misses more than I’d like to admit. Worst was first time on the surf foil I nearly hit a little grom which was both embarrassing and scary.
And what about others in the line up – how did they receive you and what was the general vibe with a foiler in the pack?
Very dependent on the way you approach it and the breaks you ride at. Most people are very excited by it and want to speak to you about it. I’ve had sessions that took nearly an hour to reach the water because so many people stop you for a chat. When you’re out there as long as you give people space and don’t ride dangerously those vibes stay positive but for sure you do get some dirty looks from locals when you head out at their break.
Talk to us about the kit you used/use for SUP foiling.
I was using a Fanatic Stubby 7’10 with the Naish surf wing large to begin with then moved onto a Naish Raptor with the same foil. Both boards worked really well at 95l but the Raptor was a little better as it’s a bit shorter and therefore more responsive.
Anybody else taking those first steps with you or did you go it alone?
I was the only one learning at the time but I was as much as possible surfing with other foilers both for safety and learning purposes. I’m a big believer in it being much safer than people think but you should still make a conscious effort to minimise your risks.
As we understand you’ve also been playing with surf foiling? How’s that been compared to the SUP version?
Surf foiling is interesting, To begin with it is super hard physically to paddle the board with that much drag and such a small board and catching waves proved really difficult. However, once you are up the sensation is even better than on the SUP and the responsiveness is out of this world!
Out of all the foiling disciplines which one do you prefer?
Genuinely I don’t have a favourite. They all have their perks: windfoiling and kite (not that I’ve tried it) have the most application by seriously increasing the wind range in which you can go out and have a good time. SUP foiling is the easiest to take up and get involved in the waves and much like normal SUP surfing your wave count is much higher than on a shortboard. Surf foiling is the purest and most responsive and if I had to pick the best sessions on a foil out they have all been on a surfboard.
And which one do you think has the most mass appeal to everyday riders? Why?
Windfoiling is definitely the most accessible but SUP has the most potential for growth due to the sports large following and the comparative ease of getting a foil box put onto your board. As well the physical demand is much lower on a SUP allowing for longer sessions and a higher wave count.
The best advice you can give a newbie SUP foiler is…?
Remain calm haha! Like anything you want your body to be loose and not locked up due to nerves. Take gear you are comfortable on and go with someone else to a nice quiet break with deep water and a mellow take off – a crumbling reef break is ideal. As far as protective gear goes: helmet, impact vest etc., it’s all about personal preference and making yourself as comfortable. And lastly, if you can, GO BEHIND A BOAT! This is the safest and easiest way to understand the foil and you don’t need to go fast – between 8 and 10 knots is plenty. You learn how it works, how to recover from breaches and can even start to practice pumping and turning on the wake in a very controlled environment.
Any plans to coach SUP/surf foiling (note: Sam already teaches windsurf foiling in Greece)?
Diffidently on my radar. I believe in the sport’s progression and I think it will really ramp up in the next five years as the gear gets better and cheaper so for sure I’m not ruling it out. For now I am trying different set ups and experimenting with different types of breaks to learn the best formula for learning.
What are your foiling plans for the rest of 2018?
Just keep at it as much as possible. I don’t know what I am doing this winter but I have my own personal wind and surf foil setups so just trying to get out as much as possible and keep pushing the different disciplines. May even go over to the dark side and dabble in some kite foiling as well (shhhh).
Any final comments on SUP foiling or foiling in general?
Only one. Don’t be a hater for the sake of it. Give it a go and make your own mind up, it is such a buzz and whilst expensive it can take your favourite sport and add a completely new element which will encourage you to get out as much as possible and make your overall surfing better.
Thanks and praise?
Just to my family for introducing and supporting the waterman lifestyle to me and obviously to my sponsors and the people who have supported my foiling. Club Vass, Boardwise, Venti 20, Windsurf N Snow and Windgenuity. Big ups to all of you guys!