After many years of looking for wave spots around Qatar for Surfing or SUP Surfing it became apparent that unless we have wind above 20knots we struggle to get anything past 1 foot of swell at best, when it starts too blow over 20 knots windsurfing and kitesurfing are your best methods of getting the best out of these conditions until now…..
For the last 2 years the growth of Foil Surfing and Foil Suping has been on the increase with a number of videos being posted showing these riders perform a number of long foil rides either on waves, downwind runs and even flat water pumping (this is extremely exhausting).
The discipline we have been looking at for Qatar is the Downwind element. Due to the ocean floor topography and the characteristics of the currents and wind swell in Qatar we have a number of spots that are perfect for downwind runs.
With the wind swell speed and direction we get in Qatar and the abundance of reefs, when on the foil the sea floor helps you to act like a glider with the rises and falls of the ocean floor helping you stay on the foil with the rolling swell.
After many months of deciding whether to pull the trigger or not on this new sport I finally succumbed to the allure of endless waves. Open heart surgery on the wallet was needed to get what is the leading foil set up on the market so had no excuses if it did not work.
The chosen rig was Go Foils set up with the Maliko 280 and 200 for downwind runs and a Takoma 7.5 foil sup board. For practice I spent 8 sessions in my home break in Cornwall before bringing the equipment back to Qatar, foil sup or surf is much easier in proper waves and a lot less work, with over 3 years of kite foil and more than a decade on SUPs and 3 decades of surfing this helped massively as I was surprised to get up within the first 5 mins SUP surfing, this was the easy part as I later found out, SUP Foiling in Waves is a easier than the downwind element.
Move on to yesterday, 18th September 2018, this was the first time I tried to downwind SUP in Qatar. Conditions were not great with a Eastly Wind of around 10 knots and wind swell of around 1/2 Foot to a 1 foot, we are talking super small, I was eager to get out so at 3PM with 1 metre of water and slow outgoing tide I set off from Furwait.
After looking around I paddled approx 300-400 metres offshore into wind and was looking for reef lumps and the occasional white cap to find my launching spot. This is when the hard work started.
After 30 mins of anaerobic paddle style of sprints and changing of foot positions to try and catch a lump I was knackered and about to throw in the towel and go and have kite, all this effort with 2 seconds worth of foiling was really not worth it then something clicked. I sat and watched the water for about 5 mins to catch my breath for the paddle back and try and gauge what was happening with the reef breaks, what I found out in between this mush there was an occasional bigger push of water with a flatter section in front of it, you really had to look for it or you would miss it.
After my feeling sorry for myself point I saw this bigger push of water building and thought I would give it one last go. I set up downwind built a little bit of speed, as the push of water started to accelerate me I pumped a little and paddled at same time five big stokes, all of a sudden I am up to full foiling height and building speed, watching the water in front of me I was able to carve left and right to stay with this little bump then as I accelerated past it I was able to link with another bump then another, this was one awesome glide. Before I knew it I had covered 200 plus metres gliding with the odd occasional pump and paddle here and there. At that moment this gave me that feeling that I have not had since I learnt how to surf all those decades ago or the first time I learnt to Kite. I then spent another hour on the water with many glides later leaving furwait one very happy tired sup foiler. This new way of surfing is going to be the start of something to engage the waterman/ water women into how to use all there skills to get the most out of the waters around Qatar, this has opened up a huge range of possibilities like never before. My first long downwind Foil SUP will be the coastguard station at Furwait to Kite Beach Furwait around a 10KM paddle, the wind and swell direction on a northerly is perfect for foiling and this could be 2KM plus foil surfing on the downwind swell, “THE ENDLESS WAVE” Not Quite Endless But Close Enough.