ISLAND PROMISE

A return to Mauritius had been on pro kitesurfer and now avid wingfoiler Stefan Spiessberger’s radar for a while, but had been continually thwarted by the global pandemic. When the opportunity finally arose in the way of a team trip to the island, nothing was going to hold him back…

Photos: Toby Bromwich


Endless waves, crystal clear water and the island vibes that someone can’t get enough of. It’s not a secret, Mauritius is a paradise for any windsurfer or kitesurfer. At the right time of the year, it’s windy almost every day. The inside of a lagoon with perfect flatwater and shallow areas for beginners. Plenty of space for the experienced and the outside reef with one reef-break after another – the perfect playground for everyone.

Since wingfoiling caught all our attention almost two years ago, there was a renewed excitement for pretty much all the spots we’d been windsurfing or kitesurfing before. A new approach to places we have visited a couple of times already or new places that made it to the top of our list because of the equipment that fills up our boardbags now.

“We had a few days where the waves were good but there wasn’t much wind. So it was a bit of a challenge for me learning to wingfoil in waves in light wind but I definitely started to feel more comfortable after a couple of weeks.” – Olivia Jenkins

Mauritius was one of the places that was almost impossible to travel to for the past two years. Ever since winging took over my everyday life, Mauritius was on the very top of my list of places I really needed to go back to and have a go at with the foil. I basically couldn’t wait for the island to open up to tourists again and I’d already started to plan the trip. Around the same time, we were looking for a spot to shoot new products and new content with the foiling team. And so it all happened to come together – the entire team basically jumped on a plane and headed for Mauritius, with about 10 fully loaded boardbags of gear, and had three weeks of sessions ahead of us at the most perfect point breaks for wingfoiling.

The unmissable tourist site on the island today, the Morne Brabant (which is classified as a World Heritage by UNESCO), is a huge column of very steep rock overlooking the turquoise lagoon on the southwestern tip of the island. A mixture of cliff and lush vegetation, the scenery is absolutely magnificent. World renowned for kitesurfing and windsurfing, the barrier reef at Morne also offers incredible potential for surfing with a wide variety of waves grouped in the same area. By its very advanced position away from the beach, Manawa is certainly the most consistent spot of all on the reef, a long and massive lefthander totally adapted for wingfoiling!

You have probably heard a lot of these names already, but here’s a quick introduction on how our crew looked: Klaas Voget, a professional windsurfer who’s turned into a more-than-part-time wingfoiler. Henning Nockel, wing pioneer. Olivia Jenkins, still a pro kitesurfer but now also a foiler who absolutely charges on big waves. Clement Roseyro, a Frenchman who you’ll most likely find in Nazaré when it’s on. And myself, a lake surfer from Austria. Not to forget, Toby Bromwich, our world-class photographer and Chris Zarfl, our videographer. 

“I think everyone of us improved quite a lot during these two weeks of wind and waves. Looking back, we came at the perfect time – just when Mauritius opened up again and before any new Covid waves started to hit.” – Klaas Voget

 

Arriving on the island, we were all excited to get out on the water. During the first few days the swell kept us waiting. Which was good – we had time to get our gear dialed in and had a few sessions in the lagoon to get used to the Mauritian waters. However, the forecast showed a quite a good swell hitting the island just a few days later…

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Seated on the beach, under the Filaos trees, Henning and myself are watching the horizon while having our daily cappuccino after breakfast. We could clearly see some big sets breaking on Manawa’s reef, and it seemed solid but clean. Our excitement was mixed with quite a lot of respect for the size of the swell. I asked Henning if he would be keen to head out straight away while the others were prepping the camera gear for the day. So once we’d finished our coffee, we decided to jump in the water straight away and ride the inside spot before the others followed with the boat. At the center of the lagoon, 300m from the shore, the spot named “Little Reef” offers some really fun rights attracting dozens of riders. We surfed this funny reef and got some good waves to warm up on before heading out to Manawa, which is about a kilometer offshore. Once we got out there, we realized it was bigger than we had expected. 3-4m sets on the foil was something Henning and I had not ridden before. We caught a couple of smaller ones to get the adrenaline flowing and it didn’t take long until we were on the set waves. Flying down the line from all the way outside till deep in the channel where the fishermens’ boats passed us by. We caught one wave after the other – this is what we came for.

“I’d never been to Mauritius, but I’d heard so much about it. The wave itself was actually even further out than I had expected. But Manawa is a great spot for winging when the swell direction and size is right. For me it was without a doubt a real pleasure to be with such a good crew of people at a dream destination.” – Henning Nockel

The following days were basically nonstop action. We surfed our brains out during the day and had one or two gin and tonics at the hotel bar in the evening. Every single one of the team was stoked to be out here and everybody got more and more comfortable on the waves.

I knew Klaas was used to charging waves from his windsurfing, and is on top of the freestyle game in winging. He knows the different breaks on the reef pretty well, so it didn’t take long until he’d convinced everyone else to head out and ride some sections of One Eye, one of the most famous waves on the planet for wind sports. It was hectic. One Eye is a super-fast wave and some sections are pretty much impossible to ride with the wing. But just riding parts of it was an experience that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. And when Henning is part of the crew on a trip, it’s always gonna be a good one. I love having sessions with him, his creative approach to the sport and endless motivation to spend time out on the water keeps everyone in the team stoked to get out there again and again, even after a long day of shooting. For her part, Olivia was definitely showing us how to foil big swells throughout the entire trip. Not being scared to wipe out on the reef is clearly something that I’ve missed out on while winging on the lakes in Austria. It was impressive to see her taking some bombs on the big days. I have never been on a trip with Clement before, but he is for sure the most comfortable in any kind of waves out of the whole team. It doesn’t matter if he’s got a wing in his hands or is getting towed into waves on the foil on no-wind days… he showed us how it’s done!

Mauritius is an incredible spot for both kite and windsurfers. But it’s definitely got even better thanks to wingfoiling, and it certainly did not disappoint in any way. My expectations were high before coming to the island, but it delivered even more than that. Endless rides at the most perfect spots, crazy ramps to jump, fun freestyle sessions in the lagoon and the unique island vibes – I’ll be back for sure! 

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