Hello!! Today we have a different post. We have been talking to Romain Jourdan, a “Toulousain” (as the inhabitants of Toulouse are known in France) currently living in Oslo, Norway. Romain is the mastermind behind Windfoil Zone, the absolute reference website if we talk about Windfoil.

Windfoil Zone

2018 was the year of the foil invasion but Romain saw it coming, and Windfoil Zone became a great allied for the growing of this new discipline. We will talk about everything in a very long interview that I hope you will enjoy.

Windfoil Zone is the result of many hours of frustration in trying to find relevant content about windfoiling on the internetRomain Jourdan

I can guarantee that right now the problem is solved. Let’s find out a little bit more about him and his project.

Just a little bit about yourself

Hi Romain, thank you for being here with us and sharing your knowledge about foiling with our blog readers. Why did you choose the cold waters of Norway instead of the warm Mediterranean waters and the Tramontana winds?

Hi, thanks for having me on, it’s a great pleasure!

You’re right, the climate in the South of France is far better than in Norway, at least when it comes to windsurfing.

I grew up in Toulouse, France but I’m actually half Danish, and Scandinavia has always been my second home. I have been living in Norway for the past 20 years with my Norwegian wife and kids.

Romain Jourdan - Windfoil Zone

Winters in Norway are not ideal to windsurf of course, but I’m snowkiting as well, and this is a great alternative during the cold winter months.

You say in your blog that your passion for wind foiling started back in 2002, way before its appearance in the windsurfing world. What did you see at that moment in this strange thing of flying above the water?

Foiling is not a new thing, it has been around for many years but it has taken a long time for the idea to solidify into a viable commercial offer.

The first hydrofoils for windsurfing were actually designed in the 70’s and some precursors like Laird Hamilton made foiling a thing in the 90’s when he was filmed surfing “Jaws” with an aluminium hydrofoil.

In the early 2000’s, my brother was experimenting with composite materials and in particular carbon fiber. He was the one with a visionary mind. He knew that foiling would be a thing, and made several prototypes of carbon windfoils in his garage. While he didn’t manage to make a commercial success out of it, this triggered my interest for foiling.

When foiling slowly became a thing in all kind of watersports since 2010, I was convinced that a revolution was also about to take place in windsurfing as well. I jumped at the opportunity to become the main resource for windfoiling online!

The goal of Windfoil Zone is really to provide as much information as possible about the discipline, and encourage windsurfers to give it a try. It’s neither difficult nor dangerous, and it provides amazing sensations flying above the water.

I challenge you to try windfoiling without smiling!

After being a windsurfing dissident to Kitesurf for 10 years, in 2017 you came back to the light thanks to the foil. When and where was your first time on a foil? Tell us about that first experience!

Not including some unsuccessful attempts of foiling with my brother’s inventions, I would say that my first real windfoiling experience was during the summer of 2017. I had tried kitefoiling before, but found it difficult, I’m not a good kiter.

But windfoiling was just magic. I picked up the flying technique very quickly, even if I stopped windsurfing for some years. At that particular moment, I knew I had become foil-addicted and would do my best to spread the word to as many people as possible.

Which foil do you have right now and why? Tell me the full gear, board, foil and sail.

I’m not an equipment freak. I like to test new things, but when I like something I tend to stick to it for a long time. It’s the best way for me to enjoy a session, as I know exactly how to rig and trim it in only a few minutes.

So most of the 2018 season, I have been foiling with the JP Hydrofoil 135L. I think it’s a great freeride board, not too large, not too much volume, and short with a round nose to avoid any unwanted catapults!

Romain Equipment

 

In term of foils, I have been using the Neilpryde aluminium to start with, but quickly upgraded to Bug’s freeride carbon foil which I have used most of the season.

When it comes to sails, I have been using the Loftsails Skyscape windfoil sail. 6.4m is my favourite size. Used from 10 to 20 knots, which are the most frequent conditions here in Norway. I will probably add the Ezzy Hydra sail to my quiver in 2019, which is an amazing sail for foiling.

I’d love to test more foil equipment going forward as there are many new concepts and designs entering the market these days, but this will depend on my collaboration with brands as it’s not an option to buy it all.

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Windfoil Zone

With more than 20K page views per month, 1.5K followers on Facebook and more than 20K followers to your Instagram account, Windfoil Zone is growing really fast since its creation back in August 2017. How do you explain these achievements in just a little over a year?

There are 2 main reasons to this relative success:

  • First of all, windfoiling is growing, people are searching for information and I offer regular and hopefully good quality content about the discipline. Including reading tips from professionals, learning technique and tricks. People seem to enjoy it and come back for more. I would say that I was there at the right time and at the right place.
  • I have a passion for windfoiling, for sure, and it’s natural for me to produce or share windfoiling content on my channels. As I do it for fun, I think people I interact with, really feel this authentic approach.

You say that your purpose is to be a windfoiling hub, where all the information is concentrated, and you already are. What are your next goals? Let us know your plans for 2019 :-)

Haha, I actually have many ideas, but I’m only me and myself for the moment. So the truth is that even if I have several new projects in mind, I’m not sure I will have the capacity to make them happen in 2019.

My priority for 2019 will be continue to produce regular content, and spread the word as much as I can to help people discover my site, and hopefully try windfoiling.

Windfoil Zone had about 50,000 visitors in 2018. My goal is to double it in 2019, which I think should be achievable looking at the trend for January.

Let us know about your ebook, “The Essential Guide to Windfoil”. What will people find inside it? What are the updates for the 2019 edition and when can we expect it?

I’m working on it right now. The ebook is actually the result of my reader’s suggestions.

There is lots of content on the website, but sometimes it’s actually easier or more convenient to read a magazine than a website, especially if you are trying to learn something or compare products. So I launched this ebook in 2018, but it’s not available right now as I’m updating it with all the new products entering the market in 2019.

On top of this brand guide, there will be a large section dedicated to tutorials and tips. Most of it is already available on the website, but this is an aggregated version of many blog posts and tutorials.

Windfoil - The Essential Guide

It takes a long time to update! But it will hopefully be ready in February 2019, when people start to think about buying new gear for the summer season.

What is your main piece of advice for someone thinking about start foiling (other than visiting your web site!!)?

I think that foiling can look very scary before trying. Don’t be afraid, there is no reason!

Romain tips for beginers

When you start windfoiling, choose the right conditions. Water as flat as possible, and stable wind between 12 and 15 knots. The rule of thumb is to use 2m2 less sail than in regular windsurf, however you still need some power to get out of the water. In 12-15 knots I would recommend something between 5.5 and 6.5 depending on your weight.

If you have access to a dedicated windfoil board, use that. It’s much easier to learn on as the nose usually dives softly in the water when you overfoil, the most usual mistake when learning.

Last but not least, watch the tutorials before starting, so you know what to expect. We have a great page with tutorials on the site, check it out.

–> https://www.windfoilzone.com/tutorials

What are the minimum skills a windsurfer has to have in order to successfully start with foiling?

If you manage to windsurf back and forth with your feet in the straps and with a harness, you are good to go and will learn quickly. You don’t need to know how to jibe or to waterstart.

Windfoil boards are large and stable. You can (and actually should) uphaul your sail and you can tack slowly, just like with an old windsurf board. In many ways, windfoiling is easier to learn than slalom windsurfing.

The future of wind foiling

In my post Windfoil, future or fad? I said that if the foil wants to stay, the brands have to keep it simple. It must be a freeride plug & play solution to increase the sailing days of the average windsurfer. What do you think about that? How do you see windfoiling future?

Totally agree. I think all freeride boards will be foil-compatible in the future. Also most people will own a foil in their quiver, as if it was an extra fin for light wind days.

Also, I think and hope that we will have some cheaper alternatives, which will make foiling more affordable. The increased second hand market should also help to increase the number of foilers.

Can you order the actual foil models from more easy/freeride to more performance/racing oriented?

Yes, it is possible to place the different foils into categories, and that’s what I tried to explain in the article comparing the 4 different types of windfoiling. I also tag the different products with freeride / freerace / race in the e-book.

On the competition side, do you think Windfoiling could become a menace for Formula and Slalom categories? For 2019, PWA is planning a lot more events for foiling than in 2018. I think it will be more foil racing than Waves or Freestyle. Must we take that as a good sign?

I think Formula windsurfing is going to disappear and be replaced by race foiling. Slalom is still huge and even if you can foil in 30 knots, it’s still more suitable for slalom equipment. So I don’t think foiling is a menace for slalom windsurfing. It comes on top.

However, I think that Neilpryde’s convertible concept (RS:X) has a bright future: foiling in light wind days and slalom in high winds. It’s probably this kind of equipment that we will see at the Olympic Games in 2024.

This video Romain brought to my attention, shows clearly what his’s talking about!. 

Do you see any other brands challenging Starboard racing foils on this 2019 or are they way above the rest?

Starboard seems to have the best racing foils but Neilpryde F4 is also at the top. I think there are also other notable players coming into the game.

Make a bet, will Gonzalo repeat championship, Antoine will catch him or will another rider climb to the top?

Gonzalo-Costa - ARG3 - TheWindsurfingBlog

I think it will be difficult for Antoine Albeau, who is a heavy-weight foiler, to be at the top if foil races are organized in very light wind. As we have seen before, as being light weight is definitely an advantage in these conditions.

It will also be very hard for Gonzalo to keep his world title.

The level of skill of the competitors is increasing all the time. There are only small margins between the best ones. Basically, anybody in the top 20 in 2018 can dream of obtaining the world title in 2019!

You may also like – History of Windsurfing

And that’s all!! I want to really thank to Romain for his time. It was really a pleasure preparing this post with him. Foiling will continue growing in this 2019 and Windfoil Zone will continue leading the way.

I hope you enjoyed the reading, this year TheWindsurfingBlog will be very active bringing you all the information about this great sport called Windsurf. Be ready, follow us in Facebook, Instagram or subscribe to our mailing list. We put it very easy for you :-). Cheers, good winds and see you soon.

Romain Jourdan - The man behind Windfoil Zone
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