Red Letter Day – Baptism of Fire

Words: Gollito Estredo
Photos: Samuel Tomé
Location: Langebaan, Western Cape
Date: Friday February 26th, 2021

Things move pretty fast when you join the RRD team, as new recruit but seasoned windsurf champion Gollito Estredo found out when he was drafted in for a wingfoil photoshoot with gear he’d not yet had a chance to use. Turns out Gollito is a man who can pick up anything with a sail and make it work for him…

This year a lot of new things happened. I joined the RRD team and just a few days after that I received an invite from them to take part in a photoshoot in South Africa.

It came around pretty quick, and I found myself at this shoot with the other team riders who were all avid foilers. Apart from a few sessions in El Yaque (Venezuela), it was the first real experience I’d had with the new wingfoil equipment. I remember this first session in Langebaan very well. I arrived the day before the shoot, and was pretty tired after three days of traveling from Venezuela to South Africa. I felt I definitely needed some fresh water to recharge my batteries a bit. 

Langebaan is situated about a one-hour drive from Cape Town, and that day it looked like the only chance we were going to have to get some wind. When we first arrived there was only a little breeze, so I thought I had the time to slowly get myself into shooting mode, but as soon as I got out of the car the guys were already taking pictures.  

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They gave me the new Dynamic set, with five front wings from 900 to 1700. I looked at the equipment and didn’t know which one to use as I was still a bit unfamiliar with this new sport. So I picked the 1500 Dynamic Pro and just went for it. The nicest thing I remember from this session is that from the moment I entered the water, I became completely lost in my enjoyment of what I was doing. I ended up spending hours in the water getting a feel for the equipment and trying new things. It felt just like when I started freestyle windsurfing. That same feeling of excitement, of starting something different, trying a new maneuver and not getting out of the water until I had nailed it. I think I closed my first Air 360 before the first jibe.

That day it was Matteo Guazzoni, Bowien van der Linden and I in the water. There ended up being a nice, constant wind blowing at 15 knots, and we were lucky to have Adam Sims as our videographer and Samuel Tomè taking the photos. The perfect setup.

In the following days, the other guys from the team arrived (namely Francesco Cappuzzo and Julien and Camille Bouyer) and it was great to be part of such a big group of riders, pushing each other forward. Sometimes I stopped for a moment to see how they moved in the water and what equipment they used. The equipment was a real revelation to me, and in just a few days I got to try everything and became more knowledgeable about what wings to use to allow me to increase my speed and maneuverability. Then I started working on the fuselage and went from 76cm to 66cm. The great thing was that I was always having fun and every day I was improving more and more. My windsurfing background certainly helps the efficiency in understanding the movement, and this new sport intrigues me more and more every day. I’ve realized that wingfoiling can be pretty extreme too, even in lighter winds. I think it is one of the most intriguing things… being able to jump and surf at full speed, even in 12-15 knots of wind.

As watermen and women, we can see how quickly this sport is evolving and helping to revolutionize how far we can go with it. Every day you see different moves being laid down and equipment being improved to give us better and better experiences on the water. Since the shoot I have also attended the first stage of the Wingfoil World Championship in Leucate, together with 40 other riders from all over the world. This shows how this sport is becoming popular but also allows us as athletes to diversify ourselves. Although I have been practicing wingfoiling for only three months now, I know that I won’t ever stop, and I’m definitely looking forward to improving and continuing to compete. The journey continues… 

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