A preview of the M2O happening this Sunday July 30th, recapping 3 races, and lots of froth
So much going on in the world of Downwind 🤙 A quick foam bash preview of the M2O happening this Sunday July 30th, and quickly recapping 3 races - Paddle Imua, Gorge Downwind and GBROC! Also talks on logistics, Championship points and average foiling race pace. I also added some stuff on board aspect ratios and paddle alternatives! Welcome to the new subscribers, and thanks to anyone that provided info and race reports.
M2O - Preview
James Casey chats with Kai Lenny, running through the history of downwind foiling, then some recaps of the M2M and discuss the M2O.
Around 18min in, they discuss the tactics and the open question of what the strategy should be considering the 1 mile upwind pump section at the end, and how the pump played into the previous races. Kai discusses his relationship with Phantom, AFS, Kane etc around 30min and again at 49min - Kane’s foil felt ridiculously good!
Condition discussion at 40min. See some more tactical considerations here, swell, currents, flat water, gear. Far more variables than any of the other races!
This is an excellent primer to the race. Interesting!
Gerry Lopez (a surf legend) describes in the video below his experience paddling the M2O. Whatever craft, it is clearly an undertaking!
Here is clip of Kai running the downwind on the foil in 2018 with a few other competitors, after not being allowed in 2016 having just discovered the possibility of foiling downwind.
The Axis crew spotted sanding their foils for maximum glide. Will we see Axis with their first 1st place this weekend?
I’m sure most of the racers are glad to see some wind forecast, a 50km pump race would suit only a very few of the competition.
Cutting right is definitely still going to be on the cards! Have a look at this map to see the winds around the islands, including the pretty incredible wind eddy behind the main island.
See the University of Hawaii forecasting models as the updates come in for race day.
Gorge - Recap
The Gorge race went down in light conditions, and was an endurance pump race but with tactical elements around gear selection leading to a very competitive finish.
1 Gage Schoenherr 00:40:52
2 Finn Spencer 00:41:08
3 Ben Tardrew 00:42:00
4 Raiarii Fadier 00:42:21
The conditions before the race were less than ideal for the gorge and the wind was up and down from 10-30KTS making it very difficult to choose the right foil. I ended up sizing up from what I was planning on riding …
At the start I got a perfect little bump and was right onto foil, Jack and Finn were to my left and right and I was able to take the lead a mile into the race. From there I just tried to keep my head down and maintain a good pace without blowing up the legs. I was able to work up a 30-45 sec gap in the middle which allowed me to rest a bit before the long flatwater pump into the finish
… it was a super demanding race with very little actual downwinding and a lot of pumping.
Gage was on an Armstrong 1125, Kane rode a bigger Gofoil and I guess the gamble didn’t pay off. Ben used a Code 860 R.
Here is a drone clip of the conditions, which to be honest look better than I expected!
Kalia Aguera’s second day downwinding, maybe we should all move to the Gorge for the summer, feels like anywhere else is just a battle!
Paddle Imua - Recap
It looks to have been a classic sprint race, Josh Ku captures the vibe. Results are as follows, with not much between them.
1 James Casey 28:03:00
2 Andrew Gibbons 28:25:00
3 Kai Lenny 28:43:00
4 Jeffrey Spencer 29:14:00
5 Oskar Johansson 29:32:00
Here is a rumour of how it went down:
James and Kai got up super quick. Andrew took a bit to get up. But then took an outside line and was reeling them in. Had the race gone on longer Andrew would've been overtaking them.
None of the foilers knew that you had to do the beach run up and through the gate. So James came through and was sitting in the water and everyone yelling at him to run and his heart rate spiked and he runs in. Could've been 20 seconds faster maybe if he hadn't stopped and started hanging out.
Now the reason that he was chilling in the water at the end. Edo tried to enter day of. But the event was so popular they hit their permit limit of 300 entries. So Edo couldn't officially get in. He ran the race course with everyone anyway and beat everyone. He came into the finish first, but didn't want to run up and through the finish gate because he wasn't officially entered. So when James came in officially 1st and saw Edo just sitting there, he was ready to just hang out there thinking the race was done.
Andrew on Lift, James on Code, Edo on small ART Pro. Kai on a larger Phantom than what he did M2M on. That's all I've dug up
Thanks to our roving reporters!
See the clip below for some cool footage from the race.
GBROC - Recap
It seems like the race went down in super marginal conditions, with 3hrs for the winner of the longer race. Tough conditions, but interesting to see that it is still viable and faster than most of the other categories. 45 km with little to no wind nor swell!
Two more races, more points! Lift maintains the lead. Kane ahead but with 55 or more points for first place at M2O it is still wide open! As usual, no comments section on the list, but some commentary follows.
We got a request to do a Board Constructors Championship too which I’ll try add. Slightly trickier as a few people will have changed boards. I imagine a tight battle between KT and Kalama?
I’ve had a look at the pace (minutes per km) for the winners of each race, and the grouping is pretty interesting, note these would include the time off foil at the start, and the ends which often were flat water, so the average open water paces must be even faster!
M2M - 0:02:18
Kamalo - 0:02:18
Wetfeet - 0:02:19
Paddle Imua 0:02:33
Gorge - 0:03:10
Last time I asked for votes on M2O, I wonder if perhaps Edo was short-changed considering he is well within reach of the overall win, and seems to have let logistics get in the way of winning the Imua?
Light wind racing
Nearly all of the races this year have had seconds or at most minutes between the top 3. This indicates very healthy competition. I like the fact that the Gorge race in light winds was as competitive as the strong breeze days, but the results brought out some new names.
It would be cool to incorporate pump endurance as one aspect of the racing. James and Kai discuss SUP flat water racing in their chat, and the idea of making the course specifically challenging or tactical to choose the equipment stay on foil.
Having just watched the Tour de France I thought, maybe incorporating teams? Imagine a sprint finish with team lead outs for their sprinter who is on a faster foil. There are a bunch of interesting tactics - Drafting, Crosswinds, Sprint trains, Time cuts etc. Allez Allez Allez
Foiling could be an entirely new style of ocean racing. Imagine Grand Tour style team multi-day stage racing.
Finally there is a place where you can leave from one location, do a downwinder, wait for the wind to switch, and downwind paddle back to your original launching point. This is not a dream, Lake Garda, Italy has ideal conditions to accomplish this round-trip downwinder.
Hand paddles, parachutes, anything but a SUP paddle
If your foil chat group is like mine, besides logistics around coordinating sessions, the other primary topic of conversation is various novelty downwind popup techniques. I think these creative solutions are super interesting, and I hope to see more of them!
Hand paddles: Jordan shows how it’s done on the hand paddles. My most recent downwind run in 15 knots included a few attempts with the hand paddles, and I will say that they are easier than I expected to get the board going, and probably about as tricky as I expected to pop up. If you take the time to get the popup right, then I think it is totally viable for most. Interestingly I could quite easily get the board up to foil speed, more easily than the SUP for a big 1300 downwind foil
Parachute: A parachute, shown by Cynthia, it seems to have no directional pull. I see this as a way to reduce the need to pump once up on foil more than anything, as I would imagine in nuking conditions you wouldn’t struggle to get on foil, and because the pull is straight downwind, the power reduces the faster you go, as well as being less stable.
Kite: A kite as demonstrated by Sam has directional pull, meaning you can ride at an angle to the wind, reducing the issue of accelerating into the kite like with the parachute. Another benefit is that you can ride upwind with this.
Sail: I bought a used dinghy spinnaker for $10 and tried it twice on downwind runs. Primary issue at this stage is that it is both huge, unstable and has no directional pull. It pulls like a train though, and maybe if I use the paddle as a mast I can get it to work. Marginal at best.
Wing: Winging has all the benefits of the the above, but you’re left holding a big old wing:
Maybe not exactly what you’d expect on a foiling blog, but doing 600 mile upwind / downwind sends on a 50 foot offshore foiling yacht is pretty wild. Pushing 40 knots on the downwind section and barely sleeping for 4 days straight is quite a task. I sailed the Fastnet race in 2019 as a terrified crew and I can say that the downwind leg was exhilarating but the slog to get there was among the worst experiences I’ve ever had. Sea sick for 2 days upwind.
A wing recap of the M2M, with some cool footage of the start and commentary.
Board aspect ratios
I put together a list of downwind boards to simplify comparison. A theory: to simplify things I propose considering volume and then length to width ratio, ie aspect ratio.
I think most interestingly, the more recently released boards have gone longer and narrower. Weirdly, most brands are highest AR on their biggest boards.
Beyond this there is endless nuance in terms of appropriate board for conditions (nice guide from F-one), suitability for brands, track centrality etc but that is impossible to meaningfully aggregate. If you’d like to filter it, make a copy (
File>Make a Copy) and apply the filters, and if you’d like to contribute, make a copy and add yours and send it to me!
I’ve been scouting out EU spots for a summer euro-tour trip next year (with some races?), so the map is coming along nicely for Europe.
I would like to supplement that with a few trade wind spots in the tropics. Did you know that the wind funnels between Bali and Java due to the trades accelerating between the mountains. Maybe a dwfoil retreat on the cards.
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