Mathieu Fouliard is a pure-breed waterman, and a full-time brand ambassador for the global watersport brand Roberto Ricci Design aka RRD International. Mathieu has been living on the beautiful island of Tahiti, in French Polynesia since the age of 18 and lives for the ocean. With the Pacific Ocean only a few meters from his bedroom in Papara a small town known for having one of the best surf breaks on the island, his job is to mix the sports he knows best with his passion for photography and video making at the service of the Italian brand. His latest conquest: foiling !
Hi Mathieu, you are a pioneer in foiling, from Windsurf to Wingfoil via Kite and SUP. How did you get started?
In Tahiti, my best friend Thierry Tching and I were the very first ones to foil – so you can definitely say we were pioneers in Tahiti. We started more than 12 years ago with a big aluminum surf foil for big wave tow-ins. It was the same model that Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama were using in Hawaii. It was exciting but very different from what we are using today.
What is the most intriguing aspect for you in foiling? Can you describe the feeling?
It’s pure speed without noise – that’s the fist thing that comes to mind. It feels like flying. The cool thing is, the feeling is exactly the same, no matter what foil toy you are using. You’re levitating – like magic.
As a great waterman, you do it all: surfing, SUP racing, downwind paddling, downwind foiling, windsurfing, kiteboarding and pretty much everything connected to the ocean. What does it take to excel in all these disciplines?
You need to be highly motivated because you have to update yourself pretty much every month. You are constantly developing new skills. This is something I definitely enjoy – starting over and over again. Also, being under contract with Ricci International, I want to be able to ride all the toys my boss Roberto imagines and produces every year.
How have foils evolved since you started foiling?
Oh man!!! It’s absolutely crazy how fast the evolution progresses. I remember that video of Kai Lenny foiling by himself in the middle of the ocean without a jet-ski like it was yesterday. And now, two years later, you can see so many brands jumping in.
How important is to have the right equipment?
For a fast and safe progression, you definitely need the right equipment. You can hurt yourself really badly if you decide to «run before learning how to walk». But most of the beginners ask for advice and girls are even smarter, they ask for foil lessons.
What is in your quiver at the moment – foils, SUPs, Windsurf and surfboards?
Windsurfoil, kitefoil, supfoil, surffoil….. everything with a foil under the board. I’m fully focused with Ricci International on Research & Development for the next foil generation.
What has been your best or most exciting SUP foil experience so far?
It was few months ago on the East Coast of Moorea Island. Moorea Island is one of Tahiti’s sister islands and can be reached by ferry in about 20 minutes. My good friend Cedric who lives there called me one day and said the conditions looked insane for an East Coast downwinder the next day. It was true, it was a great downwinder along the beautiful coast – but unfortunately, we don’t have the video yet.
Great, so we’ll be on the look-out for that video. In 2018, there was, for the first time in history, a SUP foil section in the Molokai2Oahu crossing. It the M2O something you consider for the future?
Definitely not, it’s an insane downwinder but I’m not a competitor. I am definitely a freerider.
What foil challenges are on your bucket list?
I am planning to do some big crossing between islands on a SUP foil. Huahine Island to Raiatea is such a big crossing. I’ve already done it with an 18’ unlimited SUP with Thierry Tching and last year solo with my kite and a surfboard. I can’t imagine it with a supfoil.
The next evolution for many SUPers is the Wing. Can you talk about RRDs new Wind Wing?
Yeah, we are all Batman now (lol). Seriously, this is such a fun and safe toy. It’s really a good addition to both supfoil and surffoil. And you know what? We discovered that some customers that were never interested in kitesurfing or windsurfing are super excited and are probably the first ones to order a wing.
In Tahiti, the conditions look great. There are many countries where you don’t have easy ocean access and Stand-Up-Paddling or foiling happens on rivers or lakes. Is wing foiling the best option for people who want to get into foiling on inland waters?
If the water is deep enough for foiling and there is enough wind, wing foiling is definitely a way to have fun. I have a friend from New Zealand who rides on a very windy lake.
What other tips do you have for inland foilers?
Grab a boat and play with the wake or try the dock start with friends.
Now, I’ve asked you quite a lot of questions. Anything you’d like to add?
It’s all about having fun and flying well !