Farrah Hall is a veteran Olympic-class racer originally from Annapolis, Maryland, USA. Recently becoming a Team Taaroa rider, she aims to excel in multiple windfoil disciplines and in coaching all kinds of windsurfing.
Who are you? Tell us a bit about your life, your trajectory in the sport and why you are so passionate about foiling.
I taught myself to windsurf while in high school, on ancient equipment – a huge plastic board, a tie- on boom, and a soft sail. Even though I was just flailing around with this massive set of gear, I still thought windsurfing was the coolest sport on the planet. I started teaching lessons at a shop immediately after graduating, which further opened my mind to the possibilities and beauty of the sport. Since then, my trajectory in windsurfing has been based on innovating and creating opportunities for myself to get better – leading to an Olympic Games and a career as a high-level instructor and coach.
My first pioneering moment was starting a windsurfing club from zero at my university, St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Sourcing donations of equipment, a shed for storage, and putting together a social and learn to windsurf program, I taught many students and locals to love windsurfing. Twenty years later, the club is still active. The club introduced me to Olympic windsurfing – we earned a visit from Mike Gebhardt, a two-time Olympic windsurfing medalist for the USA, which hooked me on the possibility of competing in an Olympic Games!
Four Olympic campaigns later, I’m still coming up with creative ways to keep following my passion, and keep improving as a sailor, athlete, and coach. Windfoil is just another aspect of my favorite sport, and of course I want to foil as much as possible, and play a role in developing equipment, coaching curriculum, and performance. Being a part of Team Taaroa is helping me realize this objective.
Which disciplines do you practice?
Windsurfing is a multi-disciplinary progressive sport, which makes learning limitless. I love everything about windsurfing, especially the new foil revolution. Foiling gives another level of innovation and engagement to my favorite disciplines, course racing and freestyle.
What is your favorite spot and conditions?
Like hundreds of American windsurfers, my favorite place to sail is the Columbia River Gorge. It’s absolutely mind-blowing in terms of conditions and natural beauty. With big breeze and river swell almost every day during the summer, and a backdrop of mountains and cliffs, plus fresh water, it’s ideal for windsurfing, kiteboarding, wingfoil, and paddling, plus hiking, mountain biking, kayak, camping, fly fishing….any outdoor sport you can imagine.
When did you try foiling for the first time?
I threw myself right into a regatta. It was 2017, and the first one-design windfoil European Championship in a class called the Neil Pryde RS:One Convertible. It was the first of its kind anywhere, but short-lived – the class is now extinct. However, the concept lives on in the new iQFoil Olympic discipline. The regatta was held in Loctudy, France, near where I now live in Brest, and it was the first time most windsurfers had ever tried foiling. Nobody knew exactly what to do or what would happen, but finally, the windfoil format worked really well. By the end of the event everyone was hooked on foiling.
What is your best foiling memory?
The Olympic equipment sea trials at Lake Garda, where a group of racers of all backgrounds got to help select the new Olympic windfoil class. The energy and teamwork were incomparable, and it expanded everyone’s imagination to the possibilities of foiling.
What’s the first thing you do just before a session?
I have a routine I go through before a session, and will warm up, rig and organize equipment in the same way every time to make sure it is all correctly prepared and nothing is broken or missing. The last thing I do is tighten my harness and do a breathing exercise to make sure I have the correct focus before going on the water. It sounds complicated but it’s actually easier on my brain.
What does TAAROA mean to you? How would you best describe the brand using one word?
TAAROA stands for innovation, and I feel lucky to be working with a group that is so forward-thinking, intelligent, and imaginative. Team TAAROA has the ability and willpower to execute their ideas to push the limits of the sport, and the company will certainly impact the future of foiling.
Which TAAROA foil is your favorite?
I really enjoy sailing the Noe race-style in big breeze with the 800 freerace wing. It’s fast and dynamic, with an athletic edge. At the same time it’s totally stiff and stable, so you can fly through some nice jibes.
What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start foiling?
Don’t hesitate to try it, because it’s easier than it looks. Foiling is becoming universal and will soon dominate every watersport because it’s not hard to learn, especially with the iUP, and it’s incredibly well-performing. You can achieve your favorite feeling of being “on surf” or planing, in a much wider range of conditions. Get help with correct equipment and advice in your discipline, so you start off on the right foot.
What’s your next foiling challenge?
Foiling freestyle! I love the freestyle discipline because it’s so technical and it helps build skills for any other kind of windsurfing. Although I started freestyle too late in life to live the pro dream, I’m still pretty good and freestyle foiling will help me connect the dots in racing skills and instructing.
Also I want to be involved in foiling innovation and I have been testing some new TAAROA products here at Lake Silvaplana. Notably I am testing the iUP and getting it ready for windfoil!