One of the best things about French sailing culture is how fast clubs adapt to new disciplines and innovation in wind sports. Even in unusual spots or among the oldest, most traditional sailors, innovation is welcomed and adopted into sailing programs and integrated in classic sailing pedagogy. Wingfoil is the latest foiling innovation taking flight in France, and it’s such a versatile foiling discipline that almost any sailing club can be equipped for a wingfoil program.
Located on the Lac de Soustons, a tiny, shallow lake in the middle of a pine forest, the Club de Voile de Soustons Marensin is certainly not a place where anyone would expect to see a group of enthusiastic wingfoilers. However, as this new discipline of foiling takes off, this lake is rapidly becoming the local hotspot. Any time there’s a wisp of breeze, one can be inspired by a colorful fleet of wingfoilers pumping around or relaxing next to their vans in a grassy lakeshore hangout. As this new sport takes root in the local imagination, locals are also taking action to promote and develop it in the region.
Organized by the CVSM, Team TAAROA was invited to a wingfoil exposition intended to introduce the sport to Landais sailors. On the grassy shoreline and alongside brands such as Sroka, Fanatic, Naish, and Manta, we had the opportunity to present our entire wingfoil line to a crowd of motivated locals.
Although the weather was gray, chilly, and windless, we had a warm welcome and hot soup from the CVSM, and lots of questions from the public, who showed up in surprising numbers! Wingfoil made up the core of the expo, but the discipline that seized the day was foil pumping with dock starts. Another all-new foiling discipline bursting onto the scene, riders simply take a running start to launch themselves onto a small foilboard from a floating dock. A wide-profile foil mounted underneath, the rider uses their momentum to glide into dynamic pumping. Riders can carve around, glide, ride boat wake, and even jump by dolphining the foil – a great leg workout! Organizer Jerome Nguyen (@boardheaddeslandes) remarked that dock starting “really animated the expo, we’ll certainly be one of the first spots in France to adopt this discipline although it’s not been incorporated into any structure yet. This is the first time we’ve had a pumping race on our lake, and I believe it’s been a great success.”
TAAROA team rider Kentin Pasquier (@kentinpasquier) stole the show with TAAROA foils and pumping enthusiasm. Befriending the aspiring pumping foil kids, Kentin spent hours pushing the locals to the limit in an informal competition around the buoys. “We went around a little timed racecourse. I made it in 28 seconds, the others did it in 26…but I’m still on the podium!” There was a difference in technique – other riders had “more frequency but I had more amplitude.” With some of the TAAROA high-aspect wings currently in development, Kentin will certainly gain in speed!
Not only did Kentin ace the pumping competition, he also had the opportunity to test different pumping foil configurations for Team TAAROA research and development. “We started with the 1600 front wing, which I normally use the most for pumping and surfing, and then moved to the 1450. The 1450 was a little less stable, but more enjoyable for me; faster with better glide and less resistance in the water. We also tested a 55 cm fuselage. I normally use the 65, but the 55 is faster and more reactive. It’s definitely an interesting fuselage for surfing as well. I tested a smaller stabilizer, the 225, which was again a bit less stable, but I gained a lot in speed and glide. Too cool!”
Local riders also tested TAAROA pumping setups, notably our 1450 cm2 front wing combined with the 65 cm fuselage and 300 cm2 stabilizer. For them, the front wing has a lot of lift compared to other brands, excellent glide, and the setup was stable. The 1450 cm2 wing was tested against other brands’ higher-aspect wings of around 1100-1700 cm2. According to Kentin, we have a great starting point for our pumping foils. Team TAAROA currently has a high aspect 1200 cm2 wing in development, which we’re extremely excited to test!
Antoine Ravel (@ant_rvl), TAAROA’s hard working sales operator, says about the expo, “We could have used more wind for foil testing, but we still had a lot of people pass by the stand. Everyone was really happy to learn about the TAAROA brand, and the foil line was very well received. There were quite a few comments that we had the most beautiful foils on site.” It’s true that TAAROA quality construction makes for a beautiful foil line, and with plenty of new and exciting development underway, we’re sure to soon make a new mark on the leaderboard of foilsport innovation.
Both Team TAAROA and the event organization were thrilled with how the Wing Foil Promo Tour Soustons played out. Keep in touch for more about new TAAROA foils – we could be at your local event next year!