Foil Stories: Windfoil dad vibes with Mike Pringuer.

In a previous Foil Stories article, we focused on young gun Tom Pringuer. This time round we caught up with dad Mike.

When not rigging/caddying kit for Tom he can also be found getting some flight or fin time. Over to Mike to get his Foil Story.

Words & pics: Mike Pringuer.

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

Started windsurfing mid-teens and picked it up again in late 20’s as a late starter.  Got into waves as a late starter in my mid-30s’ and discovered pro-coaching with Cribby (Guy Cribb).  Being on the heavy side, always struggled more than others with getting to the waves but had a lot of fun.  Travelled all over; Essaouira (Marocco), Cape Town, Dingle (Ireland) and Maui a few times. My all time favourite spot is Maui – first time out at Ho’okipa was a mind blowing experience with mast high waves and the inevitable taste of the rocks.

Mike getting stuck in at Maui’s iconic Ho’okipa.

When did you discover foiling and what appealed?

I first saw windsurf foiling 15yrs ago and was intrigued, but it didn’t catch on as I guess the cost / weight / performance metrics weren’t right. Then it started coming back with a vengeance 4yrs ago and got hooked.  The thought of flying on kitchen knives and having to balance the board to perfection in all 3 dimensions got my attention.

Early flights: Mike windfoiling a few years back.

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

I’ve fallen into the race foil discipline having learnt on freeride foils.  Love the speed and the control required and getting out there hooning around with your mates and may even try some UKWA events this year for fun.  I’m quite taken with speed foiling, with a current PB of 27.5 knots, aiming to break through 30 knots. Using an older 81cm wide board – so the crashes can trash the board without issue.

Has foiling panned out the way you envisaged?

Not at all.  From the first flights, being sh*t scared flying at 15knots with several huge wipeouts, broken boards and broken booms along the way to now being comfortable at 25+knots and finding the kahunas to go deep and commit – it’s quite a mental journey.  I used to have a pet hate for any sail that rigged on a mast longer than 430cm and have to pinch myself that I actually enjoy rigging and using the 9m HGO which sits on a 520 mast.  It is also interesting to appreciate that the board – even though it is out of the water – makes a huge difference to the foiling experience – width, length and also freeboard.

Free foiling into the sun – Mike on a flight run.

Was it what you thought the first few times out?

It’s an incredible feeling, particularly when you start to get it dialled.  The usual porpoising and determination to stick with it for straight and level flight didn’t take long.

Windsurfing fun in warmer climes.

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

A season on and off with freeride foils. Starting in 2018 with a freeride board and foil which turned out to be rubbish, then switching to a dedicated foil board and decent freeride foil it all started to click.  Easy and forgiving in relative terms.  But then the race foils started appearing and I wanted a piece of that – but I really struggled with the transition.  Persevering with the IQ race foils was worth it as the experience is incredible. 

Father and son (Tom) windsurfing time.

Have you found foiling easy or hard? And why?

It’s been a journey and a pleasant one.  I like to push myself and take risks – with that comes big stacks. When you have 95+kg rider riding at a metre off the water at 20+knots, losing control from aerating the foil results in a big stack.  The catapults are a lot rarer now and tend to occur in stronger winds when I should really be on a fin.

Mike freeride foiling.

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

Get out there.  Push yourself.  Race yer mates and push each other on.  Don’t aerate the foil, catapult and snap a boom in an offshore breeze in January…

A different style of foiling but still good fun.

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

The IQ race scene, adoption by Olympics, critical mass and of course your mates getting out there. For me foiling is windsurfing and if I had to pick a single windsurfing discipline to stick with, foiling would be it.

Mike also has a penchant for motorcycle touring.

Where are you now with your foiling?

Fast level flight, in control on all points of sail and relatively comfortable.   Working on fast tacks and consistent foil gybes. 

Down time with a certain windsurfing pro coach.

Any particular goals moving forwards?

Nailing foil gybes on race gear – not there consistently yet.  Take part in some UKWA amateur races.  Break 30 knots max speed and see how far I can take it.

Anything for a laugh…

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

IQ race foils, IQ board and 9m HGO for normal foiling. When windy – an older 81 wide foil board (so crashes and damage don’t matter) and smaller cammed slalom sails with 650fw and thin tail wing.

How has the foilscape changed for you since you started?

The gear is generally getting better.  More used stuff on the market so getting into it is cheaper.  The massive uptake in winging and apparent transition away from kiting (but losing the shorts on the outside of the wetsuit along the way).  The e-foil kit is interesting – super expensive but has potential to come down in price to real world levels.

Two wheel riding with son Tom.

Any foiling predictions for the future?

Will be intrigued to see how it goes down in the next Olympics and also the PWA mixed foil and fin format.  There are some more budget orientated innovations happening which is interesting to see too.

Final thoughts on foiling?

I’m intrigued by winging – would love to have the time to do justice to it.  The large foils and effectively being able to dispense with the wing when on a wave carries great appeal.

Thanks and praise?

Well, I guess to the industry in general for innovating and bring us such incredible toys.  It’s great to have a bunch of mates to hang out with and fly.

Check out our previous Foil Stories articles over in the Knowledge section here.