Words: Tez Plavenieks
Pics & vid sequences: Oli Lane-Peirce, Mike Pringuer
What do you do when the surf goes AWOL, the wind disappears and all you’re left with is flat water and 30C degree sunshine and heat? Bungee foil is what! Foilshop UK’s Tez tells more.
I’d been wanting to do this for a while but as is such with my local area the wind and waves very rarely disappear completely – well, the wind at least! Proper waves are a different story. Even on the lightest of wind days we usually get a sea breeze, even if only 10knts. And that’s enough for wing or windfoiling. With a bump in the mix I can SUP or downwind foil and occasionally surf foil. Needless to say my truly flat water, foil pumping shenanigans have been thin on the ground.
The other problem with my local is the lack of pontoons for dock starting. Yes, I know riders now use ladders as makeshift versions of their own but I wanted to investigate something else.
I first saw bungee foiling via an Instagram vid. The rider in question was using a river’s flow and bungee line as opposing forces to get up on foil. I reckoned this looked cool and that the recoil of the bungee alone would get me up and in flight. Everything I’ve read and seen suggests heavier riders (I’m 90kg) struggle to pump foil. So I wanted something to assist the foiling start. And a bungee line was it!
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All pics courtesy Oli Lane-Peirce.
Having a scope round the internet I found a bit of info about bungee foiling, most notably from Clay Island and Wake Thief vids (check ’em out). It gave some insight but I still wasn’t really sure what I was doing. Anyway, I got hold of a 20m length of 8mm bungee chord, a wake/ski handle and some caribena clips. Next up was to try the bungee line out in SUP mode. (I wanted to see how much power I’d have before busting the foil out).
The first session was with my three year old. Attaching the line we had a load of fun riding an inflatable McConks SUP Go Free 98 in the shallows, him perched on the board’s nose laughing. This gave me an idea about the bungee’s recoil and how much oomph I was going to get. Before the next session I’d pretty much decided to double loop the bungee line and have four strands connected to the ski bar. This shortened the line a tad but delivered more ping – and it was ping I needed.
Next up was what foil to use. That was pretty simple really. The Axis S-Series Glide 11150 is well loved by foil pumpers. As its name suggests there’s tons of glide but it also has a low stall speed meaning it takes off super quick without needing too much power. It’s perfect for this kind of thing and no slouch for light wind windfoiling and wing foiling as well. Then it was deciding what board.
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With the fact I’d be beach starting in super shallow water a surf foil board was out of the question. This would sink and make the foil ground out. In the end I went for a super light SUP/wing foil board. I had no way of knowing if this’d be Ok or not – fortunately, it was. And work quite well as it happens.
When doing this kind of thing you do have to be prepared to be the center of attention. Passers by are intrigued and will often stop and watch. If you’re shy, nervous or self conscious then I’d suggest seeking out as quiet a venue as possible while you dial in the skills needed.
Hauling the bungee to shore and pulling on the tension is easy enough. Whether goofy or regular stance it’s best to have your leading hand on the bungee line with your trailing hand maneuvering the board. Big tip! Pull more tension on the bungee than you think you need. Power, in those initial few moments, is everything. And it’s literally a few seconds of zoom – that’s all you have to get your feet accurately placed on the board and pump up on foil. Watch the vid above to see what I mean.
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With your heels digging into the seabed to strain against the bungee’s tension position yourself side on to your board. Release the tension and jump forwards up onto your sled almost like a surfing pop up. Aim to get your feet over the centre line with your head up as the bungee goes slack. Try not to ride over it otherwise you’ll get line tangled round the foil. Pump efficiently and level to get as long a ride as possible.
The above will take a few goes to dial in – particularly your feet and where they need to be. I found some runs were very short because of not leveling off whilst pumping. But I also got a few lengthier glides when it all clicked. In fact, towards the end of the second sesh I was going quite far and keeping speed pretty easily. Axis’ 1150 S-Series Glide really does make all the difference here.
So what did I learn? Well, bungee foiling is immense fun and just as tiring as any other physical activity. There’s a degree of trial error needed to figure out the setup and how everything works. But when you get it the grin’s a mile wide. Personally, I want to do more of this as I reckon I’ll be able to steal wake off boat traffic as they pass by in time. Watch this space and don’t be afraid to experiment with your foil kit. The venue I’m doing this at is a busy boat channel.
And lastly, foiling is much more versatile than just sticking to one discipline – winging for instance – and by broadening your horizons you’ll be nabbing even more time on the water. And the skills you acquire in one area pass over into others.
Enjoy the pump!
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