Tomo Murabayashi: the day SUP Tomo became FOIL Tomo

In the past 24 years, Japanese waterman Tomo Murabayashi aka SUP Tomo, FOIL Tomo or just Tomo, hasn’t spent many days away from the ocean. After years of windsurfing, kiting and stand up paddling, he was in 2016 one of the earliest takers and subsequently pioneers in the Foil revolution the watersport world has been experiencing since then. His love for Maui where he spends a large part of his time and where he’s supported by many watersports living legends and watermen heros of his, has meant he has been living a foil dream for the past 4 years. Please meet Tomo!

Can you introduce yourself to the community? Tell us more about your lifestyle?

My name is Tomoyasu Murabayashi, I’m known as SUP TOMO and now FOIL TOMO. lol.
I’m 42 years old, and from Japan. I still live in Japan, but in a Covid-free world I travel around to lots of different countries.

Can you talk about your sport history and your business(es)?

I started WindSurfing when I was 18 years old. Before Windsurf, I was playing Handball, Baseball, and Football. I visited Maui in 1996 for the first time for WindSurfing. After that, I came back to Maui every year once~three times a year. I also did Kitesurf and was Japan National Kiteboard Champ.¬†I worked as a professional Kiteboarder for a few years and I competed in the RedBull King of the Air in Maui. Then SUP came out, I started SUP and I won the first Japanese SUP Champ title and worked as a Team STARBOARD rider for about 10 years until 2018. In 2016, right after Kai Lenny‚Äôs first foil video, I started foiling. I started GOFOIL JAPAN in 2017. Now I’m working as a Japan distributor with GOFOIL, KALAMA PERFORMANCE and AMUNDSON CUSTOMS.

Who or What inspired you to start foiling? How did you start?

A long time ago, I saw pictures and footage of Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama and other guys doing FOIL surfing on Big waves.¬†I wanted to try it, but it was really expensive and you had to have a Jet Ski to do it… and I gave up. A few years later, Kai’s video came out, I decided to buy a GOFOIL right away. But I didn’t have a board to attache the foil. At that time, I had a SUP Race in New Caledonia, I brought my GOFOIL to New Caledonia and I asked New Caledonia’s Legend shaper Jean-Lou Colmas¬†(Father of Clement Colmas), to lend me the first SUP Foil board that he had. This was definitely my first flight on GOFOIL.

You were a die-hard SUP Racer before you started foiling.¬†We haven’t seen you on SUP race board since 2017, right?¬†Tell us more about that conversion and why?¬†Do you Wingfoil as well?

I did M2O Molokai Oahu paddle race for 10 years (2010-2019). I did it on SUP till 2017, and I did on FOIL as the First-ever Hydro Foil M2O invitational athlete in 2018.¬†2019 also did on my Foil.¬†After 2018, I didn’t paddling on SUP anymore except I have to paddle at promotion but it’s less than 3 times a year.¬†I don’t have SUP race board any more, but I got OC-1 for paddling when we have no waves.¬†Why OC-1? Because I want to take a rest for my legs when no foiling day, but wanna go paddling.

haha Yes, I love to do Winging when gets windy.


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Une publication partagée par Tomoyasu Murabayashi (@suptomo)

You spend your time between Maui and Japan, how do split your time? Why and who with have you developed great relationships in Hawaii?

Normally, I have work for promotion in Japan mainly from Spring to Summer.¬†So I can make a time for stay in Maui between the Promotion, or Winter season.¬†I made lots of friends in Maui.¬†When I was SUP racer, I was training in Maui with Bart De Zwart, Connor Baxter, Ryan Funk, who are the Top paddlers in the world.¬†That was a very wonderful time.¬†And now I’m working with Alex Aguera (GOFOIL) and¬†Dave Kalama (Kalama Performance), as Japanese distributor for their brand and I ride with them almost every day in Maui. They are my heros from when I started Windsurfing. They are the person who I look up to and I respect them a lot. Also, I‚Äôm working with John Amundson as an Amundson Customs Japanese distributor.¬†He is a good friend from the Kite surfing days and I respect his lifestyle and personality. I always learn many things from Hawaii.¬†I live supported by everyone I am related to now.¬†living the dream.

Rumour has it that you are the inventor of the dock start trick? Is that true?

I did dock start right after I watched Kai Lenny do in 2018. I tried it with my friend, but we didn’t know how to do it. And the spot seemd way too high to do it, ¬†but my friend said “go! go! jump on it!” I jumped onto the board and made it. That Instagram video went viral because no one jumped off from the dock at that time. 400,000 views on my Instagram profile only and the video was shared and reached over a million views. It was not my invention, I just follow whoever I respect.

What is your view on the way foiling has been developing in the last years?

Foiling grew up so fast more than I had imagined even in Japan. Because we don’t need good waves, we can find the best place for foiling everywhere in the world. And now we have Wing, so we have more choice. No time to rest.

Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama¬† were already foiling 20 years ago. Why do you think the sport didn’t take off then?

At that time, equipment was so heavy and dangerous, and you needed big swells and jet skis to do it. I also gave up, but now we have great equipment to do it so easily.

Do you think the competition side of foiling is going to grow? What formats?

Yes, we already had some FOIL surf competition¬†(SUP and Prone, both of them).¬†But I think Wing Foil will be bigger for the competition side.¬†We already had some¬†Wing race in Japan too.¬†Because it’s easier to do it than Sup foil and Prone foil.

About the Author

Laura Desmit

A student in an engineering school and also passionate about water sports, Laura is first a swimmer and discovered Stand Up Paddle in 2019, she was hooked. Today she mixes boardsports (surfing, SUP, canoe) with her passion for swimming by doing SwimRun.

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