East Coast Foil Club

On the east coastline of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa, there has recently formed a core crew of riders and foil and board developers who are steadily building towards a definite “scene”, in much the same way that the West Coast Foil Club defined the early foil scene in the US. While still in its early stages, we went looking for a little background…

Interview: Donovan Wichmann
Photos: Samuel Tomé and Mitchell Markgraaff

The good people of Cape Town seem to think that they are the center of the universe. Do you realize that you’re on the southern tip of the African continent, and if anything, are the South West Coast Foil Club?

The name started as a WhatsApp group and is a light hearted take on the east coast vs. west coast mentality that I have seen in the US, South Africa, and Australia. There is a West Coast Foil Club, of which we knew very little about, but it sounded cool. We have that in Cape Town, the surf, kite, and wing riders can be quite localized, and most of them hang out on the Cape’s west coast.

Who makes up the crew currently, and what area do you really cover?

A few of us are linked to AK Durable Supply Co. as our design center and brand HQ is in Muizenberg. AK´s key local product testers are Peter Petersen, Dale Staples, and Tanner Adshade. AK Director, Clinton Filen, tries to get into the water as often as everyone else but fails. There are a lot of new foilers coming into the sport, and an original crew like Gary van Rooyen that were doing the downwind thing before us.

I would say the nucleus of the crew would be around Muizenberg, as it’s our best local surf foil spot, which is on the East Coast of the Cape Peninsula. We also have a great downwind run that goes from Millers Point to Fish Hoek, which is about 7.27 miles. We do also sneak over to Witsands on the west side in the north-westerly, which kind of negates our name a bit!

It’s the downwinding that probably unites everyone the most, as conditions can easily get to 40+ knots, big swell, cold water, and big gray fish. So having a few people around is a real positive.

You’ve got a solid local crew and often get visitors from around the world joining you, tell us about that…

Hmm, I am not sure how solid the local crew is. It seems that a lot of the broader team are often quite elusive. I think this comes from the different backgrounds between surfing, kiting, winging, and windsurfing. There is always so much going on, that we can have days with 20 people doing a downwinder, and days when no one pitches at all.

In summer (October to April), we get a lot more visitors as it's the prime downwinding season with the prevailing south-easterly winds. In winter the prevailing wind switches to offshore, so the surf foiling hits prime time, but that would be more of a local scene.

You have a development and test center in Muizenberg, Cape Town, which is central to the crew. This must have its perks?

Our development center in Muizenberg houses our rapid prototyping setup so that we can build a new foil in a few days, run across the road and test it, and then head back to the workshop for constant tweaking. Anyone who works on foils understands the constant tweaking, which will change based on the conditions, discipline, and personal preference. We try to surf test, wing test, and kite test the foils with a few different riders before resampling and the local conditions allow us to do that quite quickly.

Is it an exclusive boys only club, or are girls allowed?

As is the structure of the club there is no clear plan, so everyone is welcome, so yes we should really escalate it to non-binary status wherever possible.

The foil crew seem to come from quite a diverse watersports background; tell us about some of the members?

Of the core AK crew, there is such a mix of watersports interests, it would be hard to cover them all. Dale and Tanner come from a surfing background, Pete from SUP, wing, and kite, and Clinton pretty much tries anything that he designs or has been working on. From an international side, we have Frenchman, Victor Hays and Hawaaian Zane Schweitzer coming over to test and develop with us; both of them are very much all-around watermen.

For those who’ve yet to visit Cape Town, is there anywhere else in the world you can compare it to?

Of all the places we have visited, Maui and Cape Town have the most similarities, although they have the luxury of warm water.

According to Victor Hays, the South of France is foil heaven, and Tarifa is also a really emerging foil destination. Mauritius is epic for some aspects of foiling, as is Hood River. Cape Town, in comparison, has it all within close proximity, from open ocean swell, the rivers and dams, to the full scope of surf conditions. We would imagine that the US West Coast is epic too; they even have a real club. Ultimately, the beauty of foiling is that it can turn the worst conditions into the session of a lifetime.

Are you hosting any community events/downwinders etc?

As we move into winter the focus is much more on the surf foiling side, and there is a regular crew now in the corner at Muizenberg. Once we get back into summer, we will get the downwinders running again. The AK showroom in Atlantic Road is a good place to meet and get connected with the group, as everyone is welcome.

So what’s next for the ECFC? Gradual world domination and eventual head to head with California’s WCFC?

We would just like to continue connecting as many people as possible to the diverse world of hydrofoiling. We are all about recreational riding here, and would love to share our local conditions with anyone, even the West Coast crew.

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