In 1963, the Beach Boys helped introduce surfing to the mainstream by singing, “Don’t be afraid to try the newest sport around.”
Of course, they meant surfing, and I wasn’t afraid, and neither were most of my friends. Maybe we should have been a little afraid, however. Surfing, as it turns out, is a tough way to go, and contrary to popular belief, water can really hurt you.
We not only tried the latest sport around, but it was all we thought about for the next two decades. Now, if those lyrics were sung today, 60 years later, you might think they referred to the sport of foilboarding.
Foilboarding has a dreamlike quality to it, like a pelican riding a wave of air, or a surfboard turned into a hovercraft.
The big difference between both sports is that in foilboarding, the board is attached to a hydrofoil rather than fins, and the foil causes the board to ride above the water, rather than upon it.
The sport, which was invented by Laird Hamilton in Maui some 25 years ago, is catching on in small pockets throughout the world, including our local North County beaches. And why not? The newest sport around looks like fun, and I’m told it’s even more fun than it looks.
About a year ago, former pro Oz/Am transplant, Aussie Rules football pro Cameron Trickey was seeking his next big kick in the pants when he came upon e-foiling, the electronic version of foilboarding.
As gifted an athlete as Trickey is, foilboarding proved quite a challenge, requiring nearly a month of gargling sand and saltwater before he could fly over the ocean gracefully. As with other foilboarders, one day it all clicked, and he’s been drifting off into the sunset ever since.
As a caring coach, Trickey recently combined his love for the new sport with his charitable nature and came up with a unique fundraising idea.
Starting at 7 a.m. on Oct. 28 at Oceanside Harbor and ending several hours later in Mission Bay, Coach Cam will attempt e-foiling to raise funds and awareness for our Special Olympians. He is aided in his efforts by the Special Olympics Committee and Lift Foils. To learn more about Cam’s Bay to Bay trip, and how you can help, check out bit.ly/3s9CoA0.
I’m not sure how opening day is determined currently, but in my day, it was after the first person rode from the outside peak beyond the lifeguard tower. I think now it’s simply the first big north swell of the season.
A big swell in mid-October may mean that El Niño is about to kick in and kick butt. Bigger years tend to reshuffle the deck where the beach break rippers of summer often take a backseat to the more experienced reef surfers who know where to sit and how to connect those long northern lines that occasionally deposit them on the other side of the lifeguard tower.
My guess is that it was probably the veterans, longtime local legends Jeff Timpson and Billy Irwin who led the charge. I wasn’t there, so I can’t say, but I am assured that a splendid time was had by all 60 of the surfers in the water.
Whoever it was that made the maiden voyage around the tower, congratulations. I only hope you had an equally good time paddling back out.