Red Letter Day: Lake Placid

Words: Coline Le Clézio
Riders: Gabriel Bachelet, Paul-Conrad Delaere, Bruno Sroka
Photos: Jean-Marc Favre
Location: Lake Annecy, France
Date: Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th September, 2021

Unlike other water sports, foiling is blessed with the benefit of versatility when it comes to places and conditions to ride in. And when you happen to be wanting to test new gear with little to no variation in said conditions, finding a tranquil lake at the foot of some aesthetically-pleasing mountains on which to throw down in endless wake swell is a sure-fire winner…

When autumn arrives, the early morning atmosphere on Lake Annecy is calm, serene, with the sun rising behind the mountains offering a beautiful contrast of vibrant colours. It was certainly a magical moment to start a weekend of wake foiling up in the mountains… The whole SROKA team was reunited for three days at this magnificent place. On the program: wake foiling, testing, shooting, debriefs and just good vibes.

Riders Paul-Conrad Delaere and Gabriel Bachelet, the SROKA office team, and Bruno Sroka himself caught wave after wave under the lens of Jean-Marc Favre, the photographer who has followed Bruno on his adventures for almost 20 years now, including his crossing of Cape Horn by kite. 

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The atmosphere on the boat was great, and the feedback from the riders was invaluable. This trip allowed us to evaluate the performance of the new S-Foil High Aspect 1190 Lift in waves and pumping, and our new SROKA Pocket board. It also gave us a lot of development ideas for 2022, always looking at high performance, but with accessibility and control. Wake foiling is such a good way to improve your technique, especially for surf foiling. Towed by the boat at the start, you generate speed and get up on the foil very quickly. A 20-minute session of tow foiling is the equivalent of at least two sessions in the waves. In the product development and testing phase, this is a really interesting method because you have time to observe and understand the behavior of your foil under your feet, without worrying about wind or swell conditions. Riding a wave that never ends is so exhilarating. You can vary the sensations, get away from the groove, go for a punt on the flat water, come back and make tight turns. Depending on your position on the wave, the power fluctuates and therefore we will note the different characteristics.

Paul and Gab took advantage of the lift and glide of the 1190 Lift HA front wing. They shared the ample waves, putting in big carves and plenty of jumps and backflips. Then Bruno joined them for a long ride on the turquoise waters to further test the capabilities of this product which has been refined and developed over a long period of time. The big difference between a boat wave and a swell wave is the ability of the boat to create the same kind of wave over and over again. This makes it easy to test the different settings, by eliminating all the elements of change. Every wave is the same and that's exactly what you want to test different profiles, different front wing options etc, and all of this progresses quickly because the amount of riding is phenomenal.

The ultra-short fuselage – which we have designed to be removable so that you can change it according to your needs – offers high performance in wave riding. This way, the foil is very maneuverable, it turns further and faster. Like the SROKA foil mast, it is made of high-quality aluminum, which makes it very rigid and gives it long durability. We have combined it with our new small 240cm2 stabilizer, which will make the foil both more lively and manageable. Behind the boat, the 1190 Lift front wing shows us its full potential. This front wing was designed for super-efficient pumping and aggressive turning, which proved great for dock starting on the many pontoons on the lake.

We had some epic moments. Paul had fun leaving our boat's wake to pick up another, and then back to ours. The test sessions were so good that they evolved over the weekend into friendly challenges between riders, such as the highest jump record, the longest pump… It really was the perfect moment to have fun with friends and let go of any concerns. 

Annecy is the perfect winter destination to combine pleasures. You can ski in the morning, wake foil in the afternoon, and then end the day with a meal in the mountains. We also got a chance to visit the famous wave garden of the Swiss Alps, Alaïa Bay, which allows you to surf endless waves at the foot of the mountains, and only a short drive from Annecy. We were able to enjoy the lake from sunrise to sunset, the kind of perfect and unforgettable session to share here as a Red Letter Day. It was the best way to close out the 2021 season and look ahead to 2022. Our only regret is that this spot isn’t closer to HQ to enjoy it more regularly…  

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