OPENING UP THE BACKYARD

He’s traveled the world for years in search of wind and waves, but now, with the rapid development of foiling and its various niches and disciplines, Tom Court has come to realize that there’s plenty to enjoy right here on his doorstep, whatever the season, if you have the right tools for the job…

Words: Tom Court
Photos: Sam Scadgell


The Isle of Wight is one of those places that flies under the radar. An island located just off the south coast of England, it is known for its stunning beaches, charming villages, and rolling countryside. It's my home spot, and although I have been lucky enough to travel the world in search of some of the best conditions for the sports that I love, the Island keeps bringing me back to the UK. There is a great community of shredders here who all share the love for the natural resources that this small, forgotten island can offer throughout the season.

“The Island's natural beauty takes on a new dimension asthe weather changes and the crowds disappear, leaving behind a wavestrewn, windblown environment for those who venture out of their houses.”

Most people tend to associate the Island with the summer months when the sun is shining and tourists flock here for their summer holidays. Yet, there is something special about the Isle of Wight in the autumn, winter, and spring. The Island's natural beauty takes on a new dimension as the weather changes and the crowds disappear, leaving behind a wave-strewn, windblown environment for those who venture out of their houses. I have spent the last few seasons making the most of this and using the hydrofoil to expand my horizons, allowing this developing technology to open up new places to ride and unlock remote waves or reinvent the existing ones that make this place so special. The question is: which flavor? Wing, prone, kite, or… are we thinking Fliteboard?

When the wind picks up, the winging spots are rife with a plethora of wind against tide spots on the Solent side. Timing is everything for these. If you're kite foiling, the whole island is open to you, with a solo rounding of the island taking the average person between 3.5 to 4.5 hours, depending on your speed and foil size. I wouldn't recommend trying to wing around it though… We tried it last year and it took over eight hours.

The open, exposed reefs off the south side of the Island play host to the best prone and wing wave spots. However, these won't hesitate to claim your equipment if it all goes wrong, smash you on the rocks, or pack you into some of the caves. As the swell starts to drop and we move into the flatter times, then the Solent comes alive with seasonal boat traffic, massive wake-making yachts, and tankers chugging up and down. This turns this small stretch of water into a Peruvian-style endless wave machine as we tow-in to the wakes, and we have scored some 10+ minute rides for miles as we track the boats. It’s one of our favorite activities when nature’s wind and waves don't deliver.

“No weather is required, just a full battery and a child-like sense of wonder… you name it, and it is possible with one of these..”

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