FLY ON WATER, SURF ON AIR | The unique pleasures of electric foiling – VC Reporter
ON THE PICTURE : Electric foiling at Goleta Beach. Photo by Mindy Rainey
by Alex Wilson
Andy Skeath is an avid surfer, and the first time he saw someone sliding on a surfboard several feet above the water, showing no signs of strenuous exertion, he didn’t was impressed.
“I’ll be honest, I was massively against it because I was like ‘That’s cheating,'” he said.
Little did he know his feelings about electric foils would change drastically after riding one himself.
A friend tried it out and told Skeath to take the device – also known as an eFoil or electric surfboard – for a spin – because it’s completely different from surfing, which takes a lot of effort. to get into position and catch a wave.
“It’s super peaceful, it’s super quiet. It’s really fluid and you’re just navigating. It’s literally like flying through the air. It’s very different from anything I’ve experienced before,” he said.
Not only was it fun to ride an electric foil, Skeath found it also gave him a connection to the ocean environment he had never felt before.
“It takes you away from everyone. You’re actually in the ocean rather than paddling and fighting for the waves,” he explained. “You sail and it’s so peaceful. It’s really cool.” Skeath suggested it might be comparable to what it would feel like to ride the fictional hoverboard depicted in the movies. Back to the future.
New use for familiar technology
Skeath recently took a lesson from a company called iSurf, which offers surf lessons and surf camps in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and signed up for another session right after getting out of the water.
iSurf was founded in 2013 by Thomas Oretsky and his wife Alelia Parenteau in Santa Barbara. It started out as a women-only surf school for the first three years, but the business has since grown to serve people of all ages and backgrounds. iSurf now offers a range of camps, private lessons, after-school programs and excursions to exotic surf spots like Costa Rica and New Zealand.
A year ago, iSurf became the first surf school in the region to offer electric foil lessons.
Oretsky said while people are often surprised to see an electric foil in action for the first time, vessels known as hydrofoils have long been used by militaries around the world, as well as passenger ships requiring a faster than a conventional boat.
“Foil technology itself has been around for decades, if not longer, and basically it gives a vessel the ability to get out of the water and fly over the water itself. And so the eFoil is basically a modified surfboard that has a propeller underneath that’s attached to a foil,” he said. “It’s basically an electric surfboard that comes out of the water.”
All eFoil lessons offered by iSurf take place at Goleta Beach, as it is relatively sheltered from wind and waves and is also a scenic location. In the future, iSurf plans to offer eFoil trips to other places with calm waters like Lake Havasu or the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.
So far, iSurf has five electric foils, allowing one instructor to take groups of up to four people. Other devices using foils, such as those powered by kites, boats or waves, are also exploding in popularity, Oretsky says.
“Right now, foiling is just taking off, and eFoils are just one of those flagship items that are part of that wider range of aluminum products,” he said.
He noted that people like the ease of riding electric foils and the feeling of silence, freedom and flight.
And he loves the reaction he sees when people finish a round.
“It’s just pure happiness. It’s total fun,” says Oretsky. “I would say they are happier than when I finish a surf lesson. It’s just a totally different experience than anyone could imagine, just flying above water. And the ease with which they learn it, they are always so impressed. Very often they say it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.
Mindy Rainey has a daughter who takes surf lessons with iSurf and decided to try electric foiling after seeing pictures of it on iSurf’s Instagram page.
“It was just super cool and different, it was unlike anything I had done before. I’m not a surfer, but I love being on the water, so it seemed like a good playground. deal,” she said.
Rainey said she was surprised at how quickly she learned to control electric foil.
“Thomas went over everything very, very well and he stayed with me throughout the lesson, so he could give me advice on how I could improve to improve my driving, and listened to my fears and insecurities, and really pumped me up and helped me feel like I could do it,” she said. “It’s such a cool way to experience water.”
iSurf, 370 N. La Cumbre Road, Santa Barbara, 805-699-5371, www.isurfschool.com.