Flying high with Eric Terrien

Eric Terrien, one of the originals of SUP racing is rapidly become one of the originals for SUP foiling. In 2017 Eric was the 1st person to race on a SUP foil at the Presqu’île Paddle Race.  Eric now based in Nantes, is carving out a solid future as phd student researching foiling catamarans at the same time pushing the bar in foiling. Eric Terrien talks to TotalSUP about the foiling revolution.

You have made a big switch to sup foil / foil, why the decision to change?

For 10 years I was lucky enough to race and earn a living from it, I had to face the fact that I could not keep up with the new generation of racers as the saying goes ” all good things come to an end”, so I decided to retire from competition. So with no pressure from training schedules I was open to try new things and at the same time, the “foil revolution” was starting in kiting and windsurfing, thois was also the time Kai Lenny made his first video foiling on the Maliko run.  I first knew that SUPfoil was possible when I saw Bruno Andre SUPfoiling in France in 2010. But it was Kai’s Video that was the trigger. I started Windfoiling in spring 2016, SUPfoiling in autumn 2016 and Surffoiling in spring 2017.

Photo Credit: Abeldabear

What is the draw to sup/surf foiling?

Foiling is a totally new feeling, its very hard to explain this feeling to people that don’t foil. You are both in the air and connected with water. You are moving fast and in 3 dimensions. All is silent, it’s a totally different connection with the ocean environment than on non foiling crafts. SUPfoiling allows us to enjoy small wave conditions, and also we can carve on unbroken swells. Downwinding with a foil allows to connect bumps smoothly, drawing long curves at full speed in the middle of the ocean. Surffoiling is total freedom, the accelerations are insane, the distance covered on every wave is way longer that with any regular surfboard, and that is on one single wave. The best point is to be able to escape from the crowds. There are so many empty spots perfects for foiling that you would not even look at for surfing!

Will you continue to race SUPfoils?

Yes, I will be racing using the foil as much as I can. This will definitely not be a full time activity as I am now working on new projects that won’t allow me to train as much as I would need in order to be competitive, but I do want to race and be able to share my experience with other foilers. Racing in SUPfoiling is a different world. The difference between flying and not flying is huge, and every mistake will make you loose several hundreds of meter.

When I raced at the French Championship with my SUPfoil, some riders were telling me that I would arrive before the SUPs. But after seeing the course map I knew it was not going to happen, because of a long stretch of flat water right at the start of the race. That is the difficult part of foiling, managing the “non flying” sections. You can loose a lot of time when paddling a 6’ board with a foil attached and not flying !

Any tips for people trying to get started?

My best tips to get started, is to have a good foil (meaning a safe foil with plenty of lift), on a good spot (mellow, barely breaking wave with plenty of space)  and get good advice (call me :D). Starting by being towed by a boat really helps. Windsurfers or kiters will find  it easier to start windfoiling or kitefoiling. The key is to get the feel of the foil. As I was saying before, it is a totally new experience. When to foil starts lifting you, the sensation is far from anything you have experienced before. Another piece of advice is to take it easy, don’t try to pump, don’t try to take off on a big wave, try to control your speed and as soon as you feel some lift put your weight forward to keep the board down. Then step by step, once you know how to keep the board down, you can start to regulate the pressure on the front feet to let the board fly a little bit more.

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