Island of Plenty

Neither Bowien van der Linden or Annabel van Westerop are used to packing light, requiring a substantial quiver to allow for the variable conditions on their respective competitive tours. But, with the optimal travel pairing of an inflatable foilboard and the power of a wing, a multitude of Greek islands and inlets became accessible with a minimal amount of kit…

Words: Bowien van der Linden
Photos: Miles Taylor

I was stoked to get the call from North, asking if I wanted to go on a girls' wing trip. What better way to discover Greece (and eat as much tzatziki and gyros as possible)? A week later, Annabel van Westerop and I were on a plane, taking the new Seek Air inflatable foilboard on its first mission.

Annabel and I originally met each other on the beach in Noordwijk several years ago, through the surfing association (KSN) that we are both members of. We didn’t really know each other very well to begin with, as she was only into kiteboarding and I was only into windsurfing. But winging changed it all! Although only I have been competing on the wing tour, Annabel sure has plenty of experience traveling for competitions, being an experienced athlete on the freestyle kitesurf world tour for many years. Both of us are used to having to focus on freestyle, competing and training, so this trip felt like a holiday, with the emphasis on exploring and cruising. Not having the usual huge board bag, this trip, all we needed was one compact Seek Air bag – inside was our Seek Air, wings, foil and pump – now it felt like a real holiday.

As we arrived, flying over the Greek Islands, we could see the blue waters and endless bays below. Greece still has so many foil spots that are undiscovered. They might not be attractive if you're windsurfing or kitesurfing, but with the ease of launching from a boat into the water, winging gives us so many new possibilities. Our destination, the Greek island of Lefkada, sitting in the Ionian Sea, is a water sports gem. Nobody needs a weather forecast here, with the island having thermal winds that work like clockwork. The mornings, with its calm seas and light breeze, are perfect for beginners. Then the north-westerly winds blow at about 15-25 knots every afternoon from about 2.30pm. This combination allows you to discover the islands by either wing foil, tow foil or SUP foil. We set off on our boat to go and find some cool spots to go riding.

Neither of us had winged on an inflatable board before – I was always scared it would have too much flex and not feel like a stable ride. But the rigid baseplate makes it comfortable and familiar. It gives the board enough rigidity to easily lift it out of the water as you start, and offers easy turning. I mostly used the 4'10 Seek Air at 78 liters, as this comes closest to the typical sizing I’d use in a regular board. With the Dropbox we already know from the rigid Seek boards, you have the same easy rigging – just leave the screws in the mast (which is especially handy on a boat, as you will never lose your screws!)

Vasiliki & Frikes

Our first session was something special. We got onto a yacht before sunrise, and as we were sailing out of Vasiliki harbour, we quickly rigged our foils and pumped up the boards. We were all set to jump into the deep, dark blue waters. As the first rays of light appeared over the Greek islands and the seas started turning turquoise blue, we were tow-foiling behind the yacht. Getting that speed just right for the perfect stern wave, there was no more need for a rope, and we were foil surfing behind the boat on what seemed like an endless wave.

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During the tow session, we anchored on the northern side of Ithica, by Frikes and Marmagnas bay. It’s a picturesque little harbor, with Greek restaurants sitting by the water's edge, and multiple little islands and beautiful bays to be discovered. The clock hit 2.30pm, the wind turned on, and before we knew it, we were flying between the anchored yachts and around the little islands. As we were zigzagging between the boats, people were waving and smiling at us; seemingly, this wasn't a usual sight in the Greek bays…

Island of Sicilianos (Agios Kilolaos) & Vasiliki

Setting off for a new location on the more northern side of Lefkada, we could feel the wind picking up on the ride there, and the excitement began to rise. On the island of Sicilianos, there is a bay you can sail into, where a tiny Greek Orthodox church sits on a little island surrounded by crystal clear water. This spot is not crowded at all, and from right by the church we set off for a wing session, zigzagging through the bay. This spot has both super flat and choppy water to choose from. Further out of the bay there is some good wind chop due to the onshore winds, perfect if you're in for a downwinder.

Just before sunset, we sailed back into the bay of Vasiliki. The calm turquoise waters from this morning were replaced with white horses and pumping winds. This side-shore wind, which the windsurfers call ‘Eric', is a common afternoon occurrence in Vasiliki. I can see why the spot is so popular. On the wing, this spot is perfect for some powered-up freestyle. We decided to make use of the last little rays of sunshine and hopped into the water. Using the powerful wind, we were crossing the bay and cruising along on the wind chop. I had some mild regret at not having taken out the Seek Air with the foot straps in place for some high jumps…

The Ionian Sea turned out to be the perfect place for a wing foil trip. The warm wind and crystal waters give it that perfect “holiday” feel, and the combination of lighter morning and stronger afternoon winds makes it a spot suitable for both beginners and experienced wing foilers. We were able to discover many locations in just a few days as we traveled by boat, although it's also easy to get to some of the better-known spots by road. But by using a boat, the wing then allows you to explore lesser-known and less accessible spots that might pass you by if you’re traveling by road, kite or windsurfer…

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