Can pump foiling become Switzerland’s national sport?

“Soon we will have more pump foilers in Switzerland then surfers in Hawaii,” claims Zeno DavatzIndiana Paddle & Surf Co. Adrenaline Ambassador and Zürich-based foil rider and community builder.

And he might be onto something when you consider the pace at which the Swiss foiling scene is growing with the wrap-around support and encouragement from local riders, watersport hubs, dedicated foil groups and an inclusive culture driving the sport.

TotalSUP caught up with Zeno to chat about their recent World Record Attempt and the secret behind Zürich’s thriving pump and dockstart foiling community.

How did you get into pumpfoiling?

I’m an old windsurfer and surfer but the moment pump foiling came up, I knew I had been waiting for this sport all my life. I’ve been doing dockstart foiling since September 2020. I started with Kalman, dad of JoeMegaPro. We practised right into the night 😉 Then I met Andreas Denoth of Coalsurfco. He started a bit earlier then me (he is a badass b*stard ;)) and builds his own boards. He still has to do a pump with his dog!

Photo by Stefan Vetter

Why pump foiling?

Water is very important for mother Earth. No water no life. You can always do it. In the summer, in the winter, spring or autumn, in the morning, in the afternoon, if it rains, if it snows, does not matter. This is a year-round sport.

In Zürich, when it rains, people are in a bad mood. It’s like they are made of sugar or something. You go and pump, your bad mood disappears instantly.

Photo by Marc Weiler 

Could you tell us more about the recent Swiss Pump Foil World Record Attempt?

The idea came from Andreas of Coalsurfco, after I told him about the Zürich Surfmesse. He said “let’s all pump at the same time”. I thought that was a great idea, because pump foiling is all about the community. You share the sport together, so why not pump together, all at the same time?

Forget about the individual record. This was about a record for the community and all the diverse riders we have in Switzerland. About 30 people came and about 17 where pumping at the same time. Unfortunately we didn’t have any women on the water as @frau_foil was sick and Sarah Spalinger (@sbutterfly) was on holidays with her boyfriend), so this is something that needs to be improved next time!

Of course, we also had the legal permission of the Wasserschutzpolizei. All went well and everybody was very happy.


Zurich is fast-becoming the undisputed hotbed hub for pump foiling. What’s the secret to creating such a thriving pump foil scene?

Zürich has a lot of wealthy taxpayers, a nice lake that used to be kind of lame when it comes to year-round watersports as there are no reliable wind or waves. When I started pumping in Autumn of 2020, people who approached me and asked me what I was doing, where given the opportunity to try my board, for free, no strings attached.

Photo by Stefan Vetter

It was all about trying and crashing 300-600 times. Then Sarah and @philipp4u2 approached me and they practised dock starting with my equipment for a couple of weeks before they bought their own gear. They shared the stoke and after they got their own gear they also started sharing it with people who wanted to try. This approach grew within the community quickly.

Do you think pump foiling could potentially become a national sport?

Yes, for sure. I’ve got two predictions: Pump foiling will turn into the new national sport of Switzerland and soon we will have more pump foilers in Switzerland then surfers in Hawaii.

What makes your local waterways fit for pump foiling?

The infrastructure around the lake is amazing. We also have the Limmat (Letten). Starting against the stream is easier. In general there are over 700 lakes and ponds in Switzerland, all of them not further then 15 km from land.

Photo by Ruth Ferstl

Could you tell us more about Pumpfoil Tsüri Community.

I am running We currently have about 135 members in the WhatsApp Chat group which is growing steadily. There are also a couple of sub-groups happening, which is fun. Patrick Federi and Sorin Radu set up this great community-led website called Pumfoiling.Community.

So all in all, we’ve got a great creative, entrepreneurial spirit going on, where each and everybody follows their own idea of pump foiling. This adds a lot of colour and character to the sport.

We also have the ETH Zürich. My goal is to achieve a professorship (not for myself) where the studies would include: fluid dynamics, 3D printing, CAD design, High Intensity Interval Training, Material Science – a whole education system built around pump foiling.

Photo by Claudia Tanja H.

Where to start with pump foiling on your turf?

Speak to anybody that is trying it! Walk up and just ask where they rented the equipment and whether you could try once or twice.

ASVZ offers courses for students. I offer private lessons, so does Pumpfoilers,, WakeAndy, gearloose and more.

Photo by Claudia Tanja H.

I managed to get the first official pump foiling dock built in Silvaplana, so if you are in the area, grab a board and an instructor from Windsurfing Silvaplana or from Kitesailing and go on the water in the morning when it’s super glassy and there’s no wind.

Then there is the Geneva scene with Steve Fleury (@steveesup). Steve does pump foiling downwinders for over one hour on the lake of Geneva! Geneva, not Hawaii ;). Imagine that. Dockstart and go then take the train home again.

Could you tell us more about your collaboration with Indiana?

I am an Indiana Ambassador and I love my HydroSkate built by Gunnar Biniasch! Gunnar is one of the inventors of pump foiling and every time I have a coffee call with him I learn A LOT! So give him a call if you have questions about your gear.

Photo by Claudia Tanja H.

What’s your Indiana set up?

HydroSkate, 85 LD Mast, 575 Fuse, 336 Stab, 1200 Frontwing.

Goofy or regular?

When I pump, I do a pump regular (left foot front), then I do a goofy pump (right foot front). What is next is up to the rider. Each rider has their own tricks they like to show-off. That is great! Weight and size matter a lot in pump foiling. Practice your own favourite tricks.

Photos by Stefan Vetter

What’s next?

I sure hope that our World Record Attempt will be copied and broken around the world a thousand times! I also hope that there will be an all-female World Record attempt! That would be great.

Photo credit: Indiana Paddle & Surf

I am counting on the great ideas and individual spirit and style of all the dock starters out there. Do your thing. Do it well, have lots of fun and keep going! See you at the next dock 😉 Also save the date – On 24 June 2023 there will be a Pumpfoil Event at Ruderclub Erlenbach.

Thank you Zeno – Keep flying high!

To find out more about Indiana Paddle & Surf, visit:
> Indiana Paddle & Surf

Explore the 2023 Look Book here 

> Follow Indiana on Facebook and Instagram

> Follow Zeno on Instagram and YouTube

*Images courtesy of Zeno Davatz 

About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

To follow Anna:

  • Facebook Link
  • Instagram Link
  • YouTube Link
  • Twitter Link