Red Letter Day: Foil Surf Racing League
Rider: Brady Hurley
Photos: Chase Heavener
Location: Cocoa Beach, Florida
Date: Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th March, 2023
The Foil Surf Racing League event blew up on our Instagram for a full weekend in March, in large part thanks to a lot of the high profile names that were in attendance. One such name was young ripper, Brady Hurley. Who also happened to end up winning, despite the jet lag…
Unfortunately I started off the day on only four hours of sleep, being all messed up from the time change, traveling from west to east, and I didn't really prepare for the event as much as I should have. We showed up to Cocoa Beach a little bit before 8am, most of the tents were set up and everyone was getting their gear dialed in. Waves were about shoulder high on the sets with light offshore winds, mostly all closeouts. High tide was mid-morning and then dropping into the afternoon. Some people were getting reps in the waves, with most people watching from the beach.
I chose to ride the newly released Lift 110 HA X with the 25 tail and 28 mast, along with a 4'0 Frequent Flyer by Freedom Foil Boards and West Coast Foil Club. I like riding smaller boards for pumping and going fast because I have more room for error. When it came to my foil of choice, I went with the 110 since it is the fastest wing, but mostly because I had only ridden it once and just wanted to put some more time in on it!
The race was all set up with two flags on the beach, and two buoys out in the water, both being about 100 yards apart from each other. The first heat was mayhem… there were about 40 foilers all bunched up together. Each rider had to complete two full laps, coming off foil after the first lap and then catching another wave to complete the second lap. I was quick to catch a wave and advance through the first heat.
There were 20 riders in the semi-finals, with 10 riders advancing. In that heat, it felt like I would never catch a wave. After watching about eight people finish, I finally caught a wave and went as fast as I could. I finished in 10th after barely beating someone by a couple seconds. That had me feeling good for the final, knowing that I got the worst part out of the way. The wind started blowing a couple hours before the final, making for full downwind bumps one way, and pumping into 20 knots of wind the other. For the final, I decided to go with what I am most comfortable with and ride the 120 HA. The 120 is better at pumping through turbulence than the 110. This way, I knew I could go on any wave that came through and just kick out of the wave riding through the whitewash instead of waiting until it cleared up. My plan worked and I was quick to paddle out and catch a wave, and never looked back. That was for sure the most intense foiling I’ve experienced, I have never raced against the wind that hard.
Being one of the first people to catch a wave was definitely key in winning the event. I felt super relieved once I won because I put a lot of pressure on myself to go and win. The day was rounded off with some mini golfing, getting dinner with riders from the event, and then pumping around the Motel 6 pool with a couple buddies!
The next day was the Lift Foils expression session/best trick contest, with a strapped division and a strapless division. I wasn't really planning on doing it, but then once we got down to the beach in the morning, I changed my mind. Being too tired from the race, I chose to just do the strapped division. I hadn't ridden with straps in a while, so my landing rate was way lower than it should have been. Falling on tricks that I should have landed, and then mistiming big sections that I normally would have made. I finished in 3rd place with either an Alley Oop or a Frontside Air. It was awesome to share with everyone, Austin Tovey came in 2nd, with James Jenkins winning it with a backflip. For the race, Theo Demanez finished in 2nd, with Mike Pedigo right behind in 3rd place. Shoutout to everyone who made this event happen, with a special thanks to BIlly Bosch and Brian Grubb with the Foil Surf Racing League!