Mark has been wing foiling for three years, having taken up the sport after 40 years of windsurfing and kiteboarding.
Now, at age 65, he is more in love with the sport than ever and gets out on his wing foil three to four times a week saying: “There’s nothing quite like it”.
Wing foiling combines the natural energy of wind and waves to propel riders across the water. “We’ve got a wing in our hands that’s using the wind, and we’ve got a wing in the water that actually soars on the water and uses the energy of the waves and swells at the same time,” says Mark.
After having two half knees replaced, Mark was keen to shift into a wind and water sport that would “avoid banging them around” and he found this in wing foiling.
“It’s just an incredibly smooth ride and it feels like flying”.
Although a smooth ride, the water is not without its obstacles – namely the water’s wildlife.
“I’ve run into a decent-sized bronze whaler once,” says Mark. “I didn’t see it until I hit it…I got catapulted into the water and thought: ‘Oops there’s a big shark between me and the board’.”
Luckily, the shark seemed unharmed and took off just as quickly as Mark got up on his foil again!
Mark says the great thing about wing foiling is that you can foil in a range of wind speeds. “We’re not limited – we can be foiling in winds from as little as 10 knots, about 20km/hr or less, right through to 40 knots and winds that approach 80km/hr.”
Wing foiling takes riders far and wide across the water as well, says Mark. “We look like we’re going in circles in one place – but no, we can go places.” “I’ve foiled around Rabbit Island,” says Mark. “So Tay Street, right down to Papamoa Domain and up to the main beach,” says Mark, who advises to always let someone know your plans and take a cellphone or radio for emergencies.
Mark and his fellow local wing foilers are Mark and his fellow local wing foilers are planning to do a challenge foiling to Motiti Island and back.
“We’ll definitely plan boat support just in case someone breaks something because it’s too far to swim,” says Mark with a laugh. Described as an “amazing way to be with nature and to feel a little bit of adrenaline”, Mark hopes to be wing foiling for another 20 years to come!
Check out wing foiling action on the Kiwi Foil Froth Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/262775114454096 Or join the local group page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/331929115513333