Electric Avenues

With borders in Northern Europe and Scandinavia opening up between lockdowns, Alex Maes moved quick to plan a circular trip that would tick both the work and pleasure boxes. Cue plenty of inner-city foiling and dozens of blown minds…

Words: Alex Maes
Photos: Joan Romagosa

1 campervan, 2 e-foils, 4 friends, 14 days, 6,500km…

In between the first two Covid-19 waves that had shaken Europe, I decided to start a journey up north. My goal was to visit as many e-foil enthusiasts as possible and ride at spots where I have never seen people e-foil before.

This trip started in Brussels, Belgium. After renting a campervan and loading it with the complete Lift Foils collection, I decided to hit the road. My first stop was to visit Luxembourg, and cruise on the Mosel river. Luxembourg has some very beautiful spots and is an e-foil paradise. After a full day on the water it was time to head north to Amsterdam, where I caught up with our affiliate Carel Erasmus, who runs an e-foil school there. The next morning I went to pick up my good friend Manel Arpa at Amsterdam airport to start our main mission…

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Manel and I go way back… We used to push each other when we were young kitesurfers. We both grew up around the kitesurfing industry and always aspired to make a living out of it. We stayed in touch over the years and got reunited after we both started working for Lift Foils in Europe. We both picked up foiling as it started to become more of a trend here in Europe and quickly realized the endless possibilities presented by e-foiling. I come from a city, so for me to able to foil in places where there is usually very little to do outdoors is pretty special.

We started our mission to Malmö, Sweden, a 1500km trip that we managed to do in one night. We crossed the Danish border that had been closed for several months and were allowed to pass through Denmark to reach our destination. Sweden blew our minds in every possible way. The warm welcome during these strange times, lakes that seem to never end, and the raw nature and beautiful landscapes all played their part in making it such a memorable trip. Then what really struck us the most was the Swedish hospitality wherever our travels took us. In these odd times, you learned to appreciate the people that life puts on your journey. We met with Simon Thirlwall at his family home in the south of Sweden, close to Malmö. Simon lives right on the beach and foils as much as he possibly can, whether it is behind a kite, with a wing or an e-foil. The wind picked up through the afternoon, so we decided to go for some tow-ins with the crew on the new Lift High Aspect wings. After another full day on the water, Simon made us some homemade burgers and it was already time to hit the road again…

Our next meeting was in Stockholm the following morning. After another sleepless night and 10 hours later in the van, we made it to Stockholm for sunrise. The trees were already starting to change colors, and fall was in full swing… That morning, we were meeting the team from Hamnen.se – I had been in touch with Gustav for some time now and we were planning to shoot some content to show e-foiling to a larger audience in the Stockholm area. After filming and giving Gustav a test ride, the rest of the office joined us for a ride and to try out our e-foils. Sharing your passion is definitely one of the best feelings. You could just see that the whole office was having a good time.  

The team proposed that we stay at the marina with our van for the weekend to discover Stockholm and recover from the trip. Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities I have had the chance to visit and it seemed at the time that Covid-19 had never really made its way to Sweden. After e-foiling in the Stockholm canals, it was time for us to cross Sweden and head on to the west coast, where we were picking up Eric and Juan from the media team in Göteborg airport the following day to shoot in Göteborg city center. 500km later, we arrived just in time to clean and re-pack the van ready for our new media team’s arrival. Four guys in a camper van is definitely a mission but this is how you get things done in such a short period of time! Eric and Juan settled in, and spent their time editing and backing up photos while Manel and I drove to the next spot.

The following day, we woke up before sunrise to get everything ready to shoot in Göteborg city center and in front of the beautiful Göteborg Museum. Göteborg is stunning, and has canals passing through the whole city, replete with bridges, museums and iconic buildings.

After a full day of shooting, we decided to make our way to the Marstrand Islands upon the recommendation of our affiliate, Stefan Berntsson. This was by far my favorite spot of the trip, such raw nature in a place where life slowed down and seemed to be protected from time itself.

After camping in the wild for 24 hours and shooting content, it was time to go back to civilization and head for our final destination… Back to Amsterdam.

With only two days left to shoot in one of the most iconic cities in the world, there was no time to lose! We decided to wake up before sunrise to avoid the crowds. We were able to shoot at some of our favorite places in Amsterdam with the help of my friends Diego Hoet and David Boot, and riding in front of the Reiksmuseum was something I will never forget. Through our entire trip, we never had any issues as we were not making any noise or waves, we were always filmed and congratulated by those watching, and we were asked questions about how it felt to be able to fly over the water.

The last idea our media team had was to shoot night photos in the Amsterdam canals, something we have never seen in foiling before. So Eric and Juan decided to give it a try. The resulting photos exceeded our expectations, and we were able to create some different content in some very special places. Night photography requires extra hands, and you usually don’t see the amount of work behind every photo. Luckily, we had one of the best crews I’ve ever had the chance to work with.

So, to anyone still doubtful about getting into e-foiling, I hope these photos will make you want to fly…   

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