Foiling Nazare -with Glyn Ovens

When did you start foiling?

I got into foiling as a progression from the other sports I do, surfing, Sup, windsurf, kite.

Learning something new, and dealing with the challenges of a different but related sport is really enriching, of course you suck at the beginning but that is all part of the fun.

My good friend Laitham Kellum  in the States was  well ahead of the curve (and still its), he had been kite foiling for a really long time, and stepped over to trying foiling ‘sans kite’.

This fuelled my fire for taking it up.

My first ever attempt was behind a ski at 2xs, with Neil Gent.  It was an unspectacular first show, but undaunted, I was off on this new adventure.

What technical tips can you offer anyone surf foiling?

The three key elements to surf foiling are:

Paddling technique

Getting to your feet.


I definitely advise starting behind a boat, or ski, just to get to grips the flying element.

Only then take the rig out for a paddle, and then hopefully get some waves.

This is a tricky/lively piece of kit, and it is easy to kick the wing, and/or encounter the rig in an undesired manner. Basically, when learning, wear maximum protective gear: helmet, boots, full suit 4/3mm min, impact vest.

I would only use & choose ION  for my suits and kit, they take a hammering with me along the way, and have never let me down, even after repeated abuse…

You have been tow surfing Nazare for a while, what made you decide to surf foil it?

I have been Towing, paddle and SUP’ing Nazare’, Portugal for the last 5 years or so, having cut my teeth in the tow world in Ireland/Hawaii/California over the last 15years.

One of the many challenges out there is, that the giant days come with a lot of wind chop. Plus it is getting more and more crowded on some days.

The Foil was the obvious next step to go to the un-ridden realm: outside and beyond.

Some people think that riding a 60 footer on a surf foil is an insane thing to do…..

We all do a lot of ‘insane’ things in our lives, sitting in an office for most of our active life, just to then retire…?

For me Surfing/foiling/riding waves  is a moment when there is clarity.. And ridding a foil at high speed on a giant wave, there is no way anything else can come into your mind..Flying with the birds, in the huge ocean.. It comes down to this…

Yes you fall, yes you bounce, and keep bouncing, but every fall is learning and we keep getting better. Just like day to day living, the main difference, is the fall is not what defines you.

How do you reduce the risk of injury from the foil?

This comes with the territory..

Impact vest, and helmet, plus a good wetsuit. All these will help, but it is only a matter of time..

Having a strong body is super important.

Learning to crash the foil, and not jump off it until it has crashed.

Flexibility is good, but you also need strength, strength to keep yourself together: a 40 knot crash will pull you in all directions.

When you start surfing bigger waves at higher speeds, it is resilience, and the ability to protect your body using your muscles.


How important is the ski driver in foil, big wave surfing?

In all tow in sports, the rider is nothing without the driver.

I have been driven by a variety of people, of varying levels, but the key is that the driver has empathy, and therefore experience in foiling.

It requires a much gentler touch than with traditional tow-in surfing.

The best tow-foilers are normally the best drivers, and I have been lucky enough to be whipped in by some of the best.


What kit do you use?

The area of big wave foiling is super exciting as it is an area, relatively unexplored.

I have been experimenting with a lot of different bits of kit.

To handle the speed and therefore lift, I have been trying different kite racing wings, high aspect, low surface area in both carbon and aluminium.

These only give lift at higher speeds, but then have a good high speed control level.

Mast lengths/height of up to a 1.1m, which keep you clear of the chop, but also produce their own problems as a result of their height.

I have been using a number of different boards, super lightweight, heavy, wide, narrow, from Carbon to wood.

Then there is mast foot position, and foot position.

My current big wave setup is a lightweight board, with not much volume, and a aluminium mast and fuselage with heavy wings.

I currently ride normal days on my Fanatic Setup: Sky surf board and 200 wing, lots of lift, but great way training for the huge days/huge lift of the big days when they come.

A huge thanks to Nik Baker, ION, Fanatic for their unwavering support.

A big thanks to 2XS, whom have supported me with expertise/training  and incredible development framework.

Also a big thanks the Tow- team I am part of, who have embraced my new endeavour  and supported it even when they didn’t necessarily get it initially.. Toby, Nuno, Paulo, RJ, plus welcome visitors.

Along with extended tow Family and Portuguese one stop, froth shop, @joao de macedo

Stay stoked out there guys, soon we will all be back in the water, so as a good friend of mine said: “don’t count the days, make the days count” so get prepping, stay fit, and then let’s all hit it hard when we get back..

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