A gnarly bit of shallow mid-Atlantic reef became somewhat of a proving ground for Clement Roseyro and friends as they set out to see exactly what was achievable on a foil. Happily, everything went to plan…

Words: Clement Roseyro
Photos: Eduardo Vidchar

I have been hanging around the Canary Islands for a while now. I went there first to learn kitesurfing a few years back, but I fell in love with the potential for doing all kinds of water sports there, and I keep going back every winter since then! It feels like my second home now and it is also the place where I tried foiling for the first time. The reputation of the Canary Islands as the European Hawaii is definitely not a myth… Even if it has been a bit crowded for surfing lately, the potential that foiling has to offer is huge. There are so many perfect foiling waves that surfers don't even consider, so many outside reefs with no one around, it is basically like a wave pool for foilers. We had so much fun discovering plenty of unridden spots all along the north shore of the islands.

This particular day didn't start that good. It was a little overcast, slightly windy but I’d just arrived on the island and the waves were pumping, so we had to go out. We set out to look for waves with my friend Tommy (who I own with, a company dedicated to teaching foiling, wingfoiling and providing tow foiling for riders who want to catch three-minute long waves…) and my French teammate Martin Vitry, who happens to be one of the best SUP racers in Europe!

“We know the wave quite well as we surf and kite on it often, but we had never thought about it for foiling. It's a fast, slabby type of wave, breaking over a shallow reef.”

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We looked for a while and didn't find anything that suited us… it was a little too choppy everywhere for foiling. But on the way back we stopped at this place. We know the wave quite well as we surf and kite on it often, but we had never thought about it for foiling. It's a fast, slabby type of wave, breaking over a shallow reef. But the fact that this wave is really close to the shore kind of keeps the face cleaner than other waves we’d checked before that. That day was a little too heavy for surfers and bodyboarders to be paddling into it, and the tide might have been a bit too low too, so we had the place empty for a while. We pride ourselves on never doing any jet ski tow-in sessions if there are surfers around: we consider it both unsafe and unethical.

We thought we’d give it a try, first just staying on the shoulder, but as time passed and our confidence built up, I got closer and closer and eventually ended up in the very hollowest part of the wave. This is when it clicked… it might be possible to get barreled! At that time, no one had done a barrel when foiling, or at least there were no pictures of it anywhere. I had previously got barreled there on a surfboard and also on a kiteboard, so I knew it was a good possibility. So we decided that I should try.

The equipment I used was probably not the most ideal but in the end it worked surprisingly well! I had the Fanatic 80cm mast with the 90cm front wing… But if I had to do it again I would probably try it with a smaller front wing to keep more control at high speeds. Also, a lighter mast and fuselage would probably be safer in case of wipeouts (I had a few close calls where the barrel closed out in front of me and I had to bail, praying for the foil to pass away from me…).

It is pretty technical to get into this barrel because you have to approach it from the opposite side. Imagine you’re taking off to go left but you have to cross under the lip to go right at the last moment. I used all my surfing experience to time it to perfection… If I turned too late I’d risk a lip to the face and a pretty heavy wipeout (keep in mind the maximum water depth there is probably around one meter). If I turned too early, I’d leave the barrel too far behind. 

It all went so fast, but the feeling of having the lip above my head, even for a fraction of a second, standing on a foil, is such a rush! I’m used to getting barreled surfing, kiting or even on a SUP, but there is something special doing it on a foil. Some may argue that it wasn't deep enough to be a proper barrel, but I'll be back next year to make sure I get a fully covered barrel…  

“I got closer and closer and eventually ended up in the very hollowest part of the wave. This is when it clicked… it might be possible to get barreled!”

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