Pumpfoiling, Windfoiling, Wingfoiling, Surffoiling, Kitefoiling, … there are many variants of foiling – but all of them have one thing in common: A lot of fun and the unforgettable feeling of flying over the water!
But what is behind that passion and why is pumpfoiling a good supplement to other foiling sports?
We had the chance to talk to Elena Sandera. Elena, a medical sudent from Zurich, already started windsurfing as a kid. Albeit her focus is obviously on windfoiling, you have a good chance to also meet her from time to time when pumpfoiling. Elena is on her journey to represent Switzerland at the Olympic Games 2024 in Paris and will participate in the new iQFoil class. The iQFoil is replacing the RS:X and will have its maiden attendance in the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.
In a nutshell, the iQFoil is a windsurf board that is connected with a mast to a hydrofoil. Thanks to the foil, when reaching enough speed, the board will be lifted out of the water. The women will use an 8 square meter rigg whereas the men will compete with a 9 square meter rigg to generate the propulsion.
Elena, how did you end up with windfoiling and what is your fascination about this sport?
In 2020, I observed some iQFoilers at the lake of Garda. They catched my attention immediately and I was fascinated how they glided over the water. I was immediately convinced: I have to try this as well!
After my first attempts with the iQFoil – which by the way were not as successful as expected… – it was clear to me: I want to attend the Olympic Games!
Well, most probably this is not the most logic thinking process but was always high-flying and when I start something new, I want to become the number one. Is there anything exceeding the Olympic Games 😉
How and when did you have your first touch points with pumpfoiling?
In summer 2021. There was an event organized by a sailing club where I had the chance to try out pumpfoiling and without question, I had to try it. Before my first attempt, I was convinced that for me as an experienced windfoiler, it shouldn’t be a problem to master it as I am anyway every day on the water with a foil.. Well, reality taught me something different. I think I disgraced myself, similar to all the others who do their first attempts on this tiny board with a foil attached to it…
What does fascinate you about pumpfoiling?
In general, I am fascinated by all foiling sports, including pumpfoiling. What I like specifically about pumpfoiling is the pumpfoiler community that has recently established. Everybody is supporting each other and even when only making a small progress, everyone is applauding 😊
What is the difference between windfoiling and pumpfoiling? What is the same?
The pumping moves which are required when light wind windfoiling are similar to the pumping moves you do when pumpfoiling. However, the biggest difference is the main propulsion: When windfoiling, the main propulsion is coming from the wind in the sail and not the body of the rider. However, with the wind you have an additional component which you have to include into ‘overall system’. At the end, the synchronization of wind, foil and the riders balance lead to the high speeds you need in the race – with a good technique you can reach more than 60 km/h.
Why is pumpfoiling a perfect addendum to windfoiling?
With an iQFoil you can start to foil with 5 knots, that means with very light winds. However, to reach enough speed to lift the board with the hydrofoil out of the water, you need an appropriate pump technique. Here the pumpfoiling catches in. As the pump moves on the smaller (compared to the bigger iQFoil boards) pumpfoil boards are similar to the pump moves required for lifting out the board when iQFoiling at low winds. In addition to that, pumpfoiling can be quite demanding and work up a proper sweat 😉 For sure, such an extra training will not be harmful!
What do you recommend someone who wants to start with pumpfoiling?
Do not let the fear stop you! The biggest hurdle when starting with any foiling sport is the fear that may block you. Yes, for sure in the beginning you will be kicked off the board several times, but in general it is not painful (editors note: at least most of the time…) and not really dangerous. Obviously, it is self-explanatory, that you should wear appropriate safety equipment.
Enjoy the process and do not feel ashamed: Everyone “may look at the beginning a little bit funny”. You will see, the fun-factor makes this up and watching someone from the safe shoreline is only have of the fun than trying it by yourself!
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