Red Letter Day: Urban Foiling

WORDS: Lukas Haigermoser
DATE: Thursday July 30th, 2020

Being landlocked, the idea of foiling inland is perhaps a bit different than living by the sea. We have little constant winds and no waves at all. So before foiling came to Europe, the situation looked pretty bad for doing water sports in Austria. But now there are a lot of possibilities to get on the water, even in a city like Salzburg…

Small ponds, lakes and canals offer optimal conditions to have fun right in front of your door. You only need some creativity and a proper foil setup. Plus, since we couldn’t really travel in summer 2020, we were forced to think on our feet. The urge to be in and on the water was huge, but the possibilities were very limited due to Corona. So we had even more motivation to open our eyes and discover new spots for foiling. 

To find a suitable spot, we did not have to search for long. We found an ideal spot just around the corner. The Almkanal in Salzburg is several hundred years old and used to supply the city with water. Today it´s a hotspot for refreshment and relaxation during the summer. For us it was clear that we wanted to bring new life to this canal and try something special. The idea of upstream pumping was born.

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However, we first had to find a place where a dock start was possible. We found it directly below the fortress. Since the canal is very busy in summer, it was obvious that we would have to start an “early bird project” to be able to foil on our own and not endanger anybody. 

We met before sunrise to have a look at everything in detail. Pretty soon it turned out that the dock start could be a challenge. On this part, the channel was very narrow and the concrete walls ran vertically downwards. To avoid touching the wall with the big front wing, we had to hold the board quite far away when starting. But this made jumping on the board much more difficult. What in return was quite an advantage, although unusual, was the flow velocity of the canal. It constantly exposed the foil to the current, so we didn’t have to run as fast at the start. 

Nevertheless, it took a test run or two before the start went smoothly. While Benni Geislinger was looking for the perfect photo positions, Adrian Geislinger and I adjusted our boards to the conditions once again. We both had the Shaka L and a 70cm mast with us. I had brought the Exo and Adrian a new smaller prototype. 

Exactly when the sun began to rise and the fortress was illuminated in the background, we started. The atmosphere was unreal. All by ourselves we silently glided over the water.  

Compared to a regular shoot, there were no instructions from Benni this time. Adrian and I did what we wanted to do, and we did it for us and not for the camera. It felt fantastic. After about one hour we were both so exhausted that we packed up at 7am. For all of us it was the start of a normal working day but the level of stoke was overwhelming… Urban foiling has so many possibilities and we’ve only just started exploring them… 

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