Foil Stories: the female eFoiling perspective, with The SHAC’s Lizzie Carcey.

Words: Lizzie Carcey.

Pics: The SHAC.

Working as part of The Surrey Hills Adventure Company (The SHAC) team Lizzie Carcey gets to play with a variety of watersports toys including eFoils. Being one of the few eFoiling ladies in the UK we caught up with her to get the goss.

Give us a brief background on your watersports career to date.

Ooh, not sure I’d call it much of a career but ok… For the last few years I’ve been instructing and coaching SUP mainly and more recently expanded into SUP Yoga, Open Water Swim Coaching and, of course, eFoiling!

Lizzie flying along the river in warmer weather.

When did you discover foiling and what appealed?

Skip (The SHAC’s owner) introduced me to a new toy at work! Our first board was the Takuma Cruiser and if I’m brutally honest the very first thing that appealed was the colour (mint green)! The concept of eFoiling was new to me but it looked like a lot of fun zooming around above the water!

Which foiling discipline (s) are you involved with and why?

I’m an eFoil Instructor and Coach @ The SHAC at Buckland Park Lake. Most of our flyer customer base are folks new to eFoiling and it is fab to introduce them to the experience. Our lake is a great space to learn and develop new skills whilst keeping safety paramount. I haven’t had the privilege to try any other foiling disciplines just yet – work keeps me pretty busy! But someday soon maybe!

More eFoiling river flights.

Has foiling panned out the way you envisaged?

I’m not sure I envisaged much to be honest! So yeah it’s been amazing so far! I’m privileged to work for a company that gives me access to these very expensive toys on such a regular basis. I fully acknowledge I probably wouldn’t be messing about with them if it weren’t for my day job so I’m grateful for all the fun times.

Was it what you thought the first few times out?

I anticipated it would be tricky. Getting to know the board takes space and time, learning the subtleties of the board and my body positioning. I knew I’d be falling in loads as I learned how to move and understand how to control the lift.

What I did not anticipate was just how cold it would be! The wind chill is next level in winter. My hands would be frozen to the remote making it tricky to use with any great finesse and my feet were like blocks of ice making positioning questionable.

Lizzie prepping The SHAC’s Efoiling kit.

How many sessions (roughly) did it take for consistency?

My first session was spent mostly falling, practicing the art of submission. A lot of my time was spent learning the sensitivities of the board and relearning my balance. Every time I found air my positioning and imbalance would give me away and I’d be off the board in no time.

My second session was the complete opposite – and completely unexpectedly so! I was ready to spend another hour soaked through and freezing cold. Instead, I found the processing time between the two sessions gave me a surprising advantage and I spent the session dry, my balance and proprioception much improved. I found control through my lifts and began to relax into it – not feeling so cold for a change.

Lizzie with the McConks eFoil prototype.

By my third session, I was finding cruising altitude and loving life! From there it felt fairly consistent.

Have you found foiling easy or hard? And why?

It’s a challenge for sure! One that I’d like to believe is achievable for anyone keen to give it a try. There is a lot of self-study going on with eFoiling. As much as there are universal truths about the board and its functionality that we can learn to use in our quest for flight time, I think it is much more about self-awareness. Being in tune with how you can feel the board’s movement underneath you, your own pressure and movement on the board, is everything. And maybe this could be the thing that makes foiling “easy” or “hard” depending on how open you are to becoming a witness to these subtleties.

What’s the most valuable foiling lesson you’ve learned?

So many lessons! And still learning! But if there’s ever one takeaway I often reinforce for myself and for those I coach and instruct it’s remember to breathe. It may sound so straightforward and something we do without much intent often but sometimes when we are so focused on learning new skills we tense and hold our breath. Feeling tense and trying not to move for fear of disturbing the newly created equilibrium we’ve been fighting for might sound like a great idea but in reality is maybe most of the reason we fall to begin with. Learning to breathe, and actively calm our breath, whilst we figure all the technical aspects out gives us space and time to relax and become more integrated with the board and foil’s movements and our own balance.

Lizzie getting a few eFoiling flights in during SUP training sessions.

What’s been your biggest inspiration for foiling, and why?

Being female! In my opinion (in a nutshell), in a lot of outdoor/physical industries, we women are playing catch up to rebalance the dynamic and show that gender shouldn’t be a barrier to learning and having fun! It’s great to see women step up and challenge themselves in these environments and showcase the potential for others to do the same.

Where are you now with your foiling?

I’m at a point where I’d like to diversify a little to other foiling disciplines to gain more insight and knowledge. But equally, I’m about to start a super busy peak season on the water so it may have to wait for another joyously cold winter training.

Any particular goals moving forwards?

Not specifically…messing about, learning more and generally having fun!

eFoiling The SHAC’s sheltered lake.

Give us a brief run down of the gear you’re using and why.

At The SHAC we have access to a Takuma Cruiser and Carver, a McConks prototype and hopefully soon we might be adding a Lift we tried out the other week. The Cruiser is our robust and stable teaching board, fab for newcomers finding their feet and their balance. The Carver is lovely for turning and a little nippier too if speed is your thing. Our McConks board is like a wild card – I love it for its fly height and its unpredictability. We tested out Lift boards recently and they had a very similar feel to the Carver, and with a different controller set up, maybe my new favourite.

How has the foilscape changed for you since you started?

I think foilscape is a beautiful word! Yeh, when I started eFoiling I had to explain what it was to everyone – there wasn’t much around about it that was in mainstream media. It was very hard to explain that it’s like surfing above the water powered by a propellor (this was before I had good quality video footage of me successfully flying of course!) Now, I’d say we have lots of flyers coming to learn because they’ve seen people on the rivers or seas, or on social media etc.

Any foiling predictions for the future?

Lizzie head down with the day job.

Ha! That’s not really my area of expertise but if I had to weigh in briefly on how I hope eFoiling evolves, it would be to say that given the state of climate emergency we are in, it is absolutely everybody’s responsibility to care about the products we continue to produce. To think about why we make them, do we need them, their footprint on this earth, their sustainability, their contribution to the health of the planet, the resources that they use up, their recyclability and so on. Foiling is fun, and so are all these fabulous sports which help us to access the water in different ways, but should we be more careful about how we contribute to the planet’s ecosystem? Over the years I’ve seen so may SUPs and surfboards be thrown out and discarded to landfills. I hope we can do better, and always try to be better.

Final thoughts on foiling?

One of the things I haven’t mentioned yet but that gets me every time I’m on the board, is how it feels to be eFoiling surrounded by nature. There is nothing like flying around the lake whilst a swan takes flight next to you or flies alongside you (ok there was a pretty big gap between us but in my head, we were holding wings!) Nature is incredible and eFoiling gives yet another vantage point from which to experience all the everyday miracles we maybe take for granted. I always come off the water with more energy and gratitude for life. It’s a beautiful world, we just have to open our eyes.

eFoili cruising The SHAC’s lake.

Thanks and praise?

Thanks to you Foilshop for giving me this opportunity to talk about foiling from a female persepctive! I appreciate your commitment to education and learning and the sharing of knowledge and passion for the sport of foiling. And your patience in waiting for this masterpiece. Thanks too, to Skip, without your love for impulse buying I wouldn’t be in a position to write any of this. And thanks to any of you who made it all the way to the end of my ramblings. I appreciate my written word is eclectic to say the least and I am grateful for your time.

Happy foiling!

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