Which came first, windfoil or Benjamin Tillier? Team Taaroa unveils the Godfather of Foil.
Foil pioneer since 2012, Benjamin Tillier is a sports physical therapist in New Caledonia. The discovery of foil set his imagination afire to exploring new freedom in all his beloved watersports, and now he lives out his passion above all else. Ever since his first flight above the water eight years ago, he has been at the forefront of every new development in foil.
For Benjamin, living in New Caledonia is a dream opportunity to do every watersport possible, and get amazing sessions in local spots unparalleled for their beauty and ideal year-round conditions.
Energized by and naturally drawn to all kinds of boardsports, Benjamin puts himself to the test with anything that floats or flies: surf, SUP, kite, windsurf, and wing – with or without a foil. However, he foils during the majority of his sessions on the water. He describes the freedom of foiling as a “magical game of balance and feeling.”
Benjamin, describe the first time you foiled.
It was in 2012, thanks to the advice and passion of Renaud Madier and Georges Paya in Marseille, and in the good company of Cyril Chevalier, one of the New Caledonian kitefoil pioneers.
This moment was when I realized foiling wasn’t just about being on the water, but about feeling the progression and evolvement of the foil under the water.
What is your favorite spot and conditions?
Definitely L’Anse Vata – it’s a dream spot with ideal conditions year round. The community makes it even better, and I’m always with my friends at sea and on shore. It’s a playground for us eternal adolescents.
Do you have a ritual before going on the water?
I do a spot check to see what I’m flying with today! Wing? Windfoil freestyle? Windfoil race? Kitefoil? This, also, is freedom.
Which TAAROA foil is your favorite?
It’s completely impossible to choose, everything depends on the feeling of the day! Here’s my favorite selection.
- For windfoil, the NOE UHM with the 1050 FREERACE front wing, the FREESLALOM 600 for speed – or the FREERIDE 800 wing for freestyle!
- I love wingfoil with the UP Carbon. I set up the 1250 wing or the 1600 if the wind is lighter.
- Stand-up paddle is great with the UP as well, and I use the 1600 for downwinders or the 1250 for waves.
- For kitefoil, I put massive kilometers behind me with the SWORD 108 UHM.
Even better, I’ve got heaps of prototypes and different foil configurations to test every day!
To you, what does TAAROA represent? If you had to choose one word to describe the spirit of TAAROA, what would it be?
For me, TAAROA is a passionate team always on a quest to improve their foils, make foiling easier, and make high performance accessible to everyone.
One word is difficult to find, but in three words: “Foil for all!”
What’s your best advice for a beginner foiler?
Don’t hesitate to try, you’ll never regret it! It’s especially important to explore and master all the different, magical feelings of flight before jumping right to performance.
What is your next foiling challenge?
I’ve got a lot of different challenges in mind, but getting back into competition is a good one! I race kitefoil, but don’t have a lot of race experience with windfoil. Even so, I’ve been on the podium at local windfoil regattas. Usually, I’d rather focus on discovering new feelings and pushing the limits of all kinds of foiling, not just racing.
However, now that windfoil has become the new Olympic discipline, I’d be thrilled to race again - I’d love to push myself to perform as equally as being able to experience this windsurfing revolution from the inside.