San Francisco Hydrofoil Pro-tour a few weeks ago, I’m one of those kites! Photo Pascal Brochier

Beyond my fears

One of the reasons I like San Francisco so much is that 20 minutes away from my office I can go kite-surfing. A few years ago I started racing a hydrofoil under the Golden Gate bridge. There is a small but amazing community of about 50 racers.

The sport is so confidential that I was surprised the New York Times just wrote a story about it: Silicon Valley Flocks to Foiling, Racing Above the Bay’s Waves.

As my friend Ariel Poler says in the story, it’s like flying over water or very steep powder skiing.

It is pure adrenaline.

We can ride at up to 40 mph (60 km/h), 4 feet above the water (1.2m). It is also a fantastic workout.

The most challenging part is the maneuvers. To keep the speed, we tack and gybe (changing direction if you aren’t familiar with sailing) “in the air.” I am riding 30 mph over the bay area waves and now need to raise my foot to switch with the other one and stay only on one foot. The equilibrium on the board has to remain perfect, or the fall hurts badly. It needs to happen very quickly and at first seems just unreal.

Photo Johnny Heineken by Michael Petrikov

My brain is what’s difficult to control. I think about falling. I think about the foil blade hitting my head. I can never do it. So I slow down naturally. Problem is the more speed you have, the more stable everything is, so you actually have to go faster to increase your chances of success. When you race being slow isn’t an option.

It’s all about controlling your fears and going beyond them. Each time I race or train I push a little further. I am still so far from the best in the world, but it does not matter. A little better each time is the goal.

Challenging sports and entrepreneurship are the same.

You need to control your fears and push a little more each time. If you focus on the risk of failure, you don’t progress. That’s why so many entrepreneurs love kite-surfing and now hydrofoiling. Susi Mai, Bill Tai in the U.S. and Le Galion in France gather many entrepreneur kite-surfers who have become my friends. I highly recommend the sport and the community.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you” — Snowboard athlete Julia Dujmovits.

Thanks Nico Landauer for my Board Boards Unlimited, Mike Zajicek for the best foil in the world, Mikes Lab and F-One Diablo kites (thanks Nico and Bruce of BayareaKitesurf!).

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