Words & pics: Simon Letten
We’ve known Simon for quite a while. Always the keen enthusiast he loves getting on the water but is also the life and soul of any party. It’s been interesting watching his foiling journey and how his progress has panned out. A real world rider at heart we had a natter to find out more.
‘My name’s Simon Letten and I’m now 56. My main drivers are: life is too short so enjoy your leisure to the max! I’m all or nothing!
I started windsurfing on holiday in Corfu at 17. First board was a Fanatic Race Cat which was very pink! Six months later I purchased Mistral Diamond Head. I was (and still am) so addicted so I became an instructor at 18 and worked for Channels Windsurf Centre. Soon after I went to work in Turkey at 22 and was the first windsurf instructor for YCA which became eventually became Sunsail. I worked for 20 years with them and was responsible for all activities. June 2019 saw me officially retire and I took up windfoiling as a new challenge. It’s certain delivered on that!
I mainly sail in Chichester Harbour which has great flat, fast water! I use a freeride foil mainly but also use a race foil with big sails. My sail range is 3.3. -9.2m. I love foiling compared with anything I have done because it’s so sensitive and alive. At 92kgs I can fly in 8-10 knots and onwards, up to about 30 comfortably.
After windsurfing a decent amount foiling was great at the start but felt like being a beginner again. Once you can go up and down and tack it’s just time on the water. I love gybing a normal windsurfing board but the foil gybe was a must! It took me quite a time to crack but it is so rewarding when you nail it. Duck foil gybes are my favourite at the moment. Next on the list is 360s.
Foiling has reinvigorated my sailing and once hooked there’s no going back. I just need to keep my old body together!
Advice to new foilers: unless you only live to race get a freeride foil and board. They are better value and more user friendly in my opinion. From then it’s time on the water where you should try and set realistic goals. We are all on the same journey and it does take a little time to get consistent.
I use Foilshop UK (Tez) as a sounding board regarding my foiling goals. I’ve had great advice that’s kept me going when the challenge got tough (Tez -thanks!).
Foiling is just magic and great fun – everyone needs to try it. Winging is next on the list but I will always windsurf foil. I have done all forms of sailing to quite a high level over the years. Loads of racing and such but windsurf foiling is the best value over fun you can have in my humble opinion!
There are loads of great vids out to help you along your journey. Sam Ross Flight School has been a great help. If you still haven’t taken the leap then get involved. You won’t regret it!’
Be sure to check out more Foilshop UK windfoiling article below –