Words: Jason Clarke
Pics: Jason Clarke, Andy Stallman
Jason Clarke (GBR32) is a Northampton based windsurfer who balances work life with recreational playtime. As part of his windsurfing duties he helps out Bug Fins and Foils with their R&D. Windsurfing UK caught up with Jason to see how this fits into his daily routine and what he provides in terms of feedback for the brand.
Tell us about your first foiling experiences. How did you get into it and what appealed?
Foiling for me grew from seeing some old footage of Antoine Albeau flying before it went mainstream, mixed with racing foiling moths at my local sailing club. I’ve always had a keen interest in the technology side of the sport so naturally I wanted a piece of this new take on windsurfing. The opportunity arose to get involved in foiling about two years ago when I saw an advert for a homemade foil for sale. It was a 100% carbon foil and needed some work doing to it but with my background in composites this seemed like a nice start. It worked so well for a homemade foil but still went through quite a few design changes to get it perfect. It’s still going strong today. The appeal for me really was that it offered something new. Not that I was bored with conventional windsurfing but it gave a new challenge that could offer that buzz you get when you first learn to plane in the footstraps and harness.
How many foiling sessions do you reckon you’ve had now? Reckon you’ve cracked it?
I wouldn’t know where to start with a figure but since I’ve had my Bug Foil this year I spent nearly every weekend in the summer down at the lake and as many evening sessions that I could fit in as I felt the learning curve was so steep I truly wanted to master foiling. For inland windsurfing it really does extend your time on the water hugely but I’m yet to say I’ve cracked it. I’m confident to foil in anything from 5-30 knots of wind but still haven’t mastered the foiling gybe (yet).
When did you discover Bug Fins and Foils? Why did you approach them for kit?
When I moved from formula racing to slalom I opted to approach bug fins and foils to race their slalom fins as they offered a carbon fin at a very reasonable price tag. Then when I heard Bug Fins were expanding into foils I jumped at the chance to order one having built up a good relationship with Rajko Zuzek the owner.
Talk us through the first session.
My first session on the Bug Foil was in less than ideal winds but I was so excited to give it a go. From memory the wind was no more than eight knots and with a few pumps of the sail it took flight and I literally just screamed for joy – I foiled 6 out of 7 days that week. It was literally the point of no turning back. I knew from that session I was never going to turn back and for the remainder of the year I have only windsurfed normally for what can only be a counted on one hand. I am literally addicted.
You then started giving the designer feedback. At what point did this progress to more in depth R&D?
I guess the engineer in me and my obsession with knowing how and why it works led me to asking Rajko many questions. This grew into a feedback loop and I would update Rajko on the setup changes, wind conditions and what size board or rig I used for the session and explain my findings and how I overcame obstacles to get the best performance out of the foil.
Jason Clarke (GBR32) has been bitten by the foiling bug‼️ Bug Fins & Foils #repost #windfoil #windfoiling #hydrofoil #foilfever #foiling #foiladdict
Posted by Windfoil Zone on Wednesday, 25 October 2017
And now you’re working with Bug Fins and Foils on a permanent basis. What’s your role these days?
My role Is very much as a test rider for the foil side. Every session I have I’m constantly making subtle changes to the setup, be it wing angle of attack, swapping rear wing size in varying conditions, or trying different rig setups and sizes and playing with varying board widths. All of this I relay back to help develop the 2018 foil. As this sport is technology driven and very much in its infancy I’m sure things will change at a rapid pace.
Anything specific you’re working on with either the brand’s fins or foils?
Everything I’ve done to date is going towards next year’s foil. There are a fair few changes we wanted to make to improve it and enable more speed through drag reduction and increasing the foil’s efficiency. Also some small changes to further improve the control and stability. I’m not sure yet when the first 2018 foil will be ready for testing but it is likely to be early NY of which I really look forward to getting my hands on.
Where do you think this work might go?
I think the work done by the industry on foils will go a long way to revolutionize windsurfing. How far this goes I think is still unknown but the scope of what is possible is huge. Maybe we would see very small wings on foils that take off at high speed to try and push speed sailing or as we have seen recently freestylers using the foil to do perfect flat water backloops. Ultimately the possibilities could be endless and until the various designers and brands give it ago who knows.
What are your windsurf foiling aspirations?
I would like to attend a world championship level foiling event so I can test my own skills against the best.
And for the wider windsurfing public; think foiling is going to be big? If so, why?
I think foiling will grow very big, as it becomes more accessible through lower cost equipment and a second hand market opens up the average windsurfer will have a foil in their quiver to extend their time spent on the water. You only need to be a competent windsurfer in the footstraps and harness to give foiling a go. It opens up a whole new scope of skills that can be transferred back to regular windsurfing while giving you more time on the water in lighter wind conditions.
Any final thoughts on Bug Fins and Foils for wind foiling in general?
Nearly every windsurfer can be held accountable for the fact that they favour a certain brand or are swayed by the bigger marketing campaigns of others. I’d say that when it comes to foiling don’t be afraid to look at all the options as there are so many different brands available and the one I chose is Bug Fins & Foils but that’s because what they offered suited me and would easily benefit the everyday windsurfer wanting to get into foiling at an affordable price. It is a very friendly foil that has a huge wind range. Once up and flying it’s very stable and offers a natural stance to the rider allowing the rig to recline backwards. It is also a very affordable full carbon foil which means you get all the bonuses that brings over aluminium options.
Just like to say thank you firstly to Rajko Zuzek the owner and designer at Bug Fins and Foils and if you are interested in foiling and want more info or keen to follow my progress catch me on any of the usual social media platforms.