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Surfing on Lake Chelan?!

By on August 24, 2020 in Outdoor Fun with 0 Comments
With an average battery life of 60 minutes on one charge, Todd Strahm can fly above the water to his heart’s content. Photos by Deborah Strahm

Technology brings beach sport to wave-less inland lakes

By Todd Strahm

Imagine flying above the water but still being connected to the water. 

Your mind is stimulated as it tries to comprehend the reality of it all. Your feet are firmly planted to a board, but the board is not on the water. 

However, you can still feel every movement of the water in your feet up through the rest of your body and then into your soul. 

Welcome to foil surfing. 

For those who do not know what foiling is, you’re not alone. Even though the concept has been around for over 100 years in boating called hydro foiling and recently for any type of surfing from ocean to kite, the mechanics are still mind-boggling. 

The design typically consists of a vertical shaft with a horizontal wing shaped like a stingray. At speed, the wing creates lift and once the board is out of the water, there is little resistance and sound as the foil slices below the surface and you on the board above the waves. 

I have always been drawn to the water — in particular crystal-clear bodies with blue and green hues. I often fantasized of the Pacific Ocean and I longed to play in the surf after first being introduced to it as a toddler. 

I grew up on a lake in Colorado and although I enjoyed the beauty and stillness of the brackish water, it didn’t affect me the same as the ocean. 

My buddies and I would take surf trips to San Diego during college spring breaks. Although fun, it was not enough. Once I graduated and secured a professional sales position, I took the first opportunity to move to the West Coast. 

The corporate headquarters were in the Seattle area and before I knew it, I was living close enough to the Puget Sound to see marine life from our living room window. 

Our time in Western Washington came to an end soon after our second son was born. 

When my in-laws moved to Lake Chelan, we moved to the Wenatchee Valley to be close to family and to embrace this incredible part of the world of majestic mountains and enticing rivers and lakes. That was 20 years ago.

As life moved on, I found myself enjoying the thrill of epic sports like biking, skiing and when possible, surfing while traveling to ocean locations. 

Early May 2020 I came across a video by Lift eFoils out of Puerto Rico. A surfer was carving above the beautiful Caribbean waters on a board with no waves, kite or boat. 

Mesmerizing music played as this iconic figure effortlessly flew over the translucent waters captured by the drone above. I was in awe as I thought that this could be me cruising over the blue waters of Lake Chelan. 

The image of me owning an electric foil surfboard occupied my thoughts for days. I could hardly think of anything else. Could this be the answer to my water desires? Might this be my surfing culture in the Wenatchee Valley?

Fast forward to today, I am living this dream as the North Central Washington Lift Affiliate conducting lessons and facilitating sales for the company that first introduced me to this fascinating activity. 

Lift eFoil surfboards are made from premium carbon that allows them to be light and strong but still flexible.  The wings on the mask are interchangeable to offer riders various flying sensations from sharp turns to stable cruising.  The compartment on top houses a powerful marine-grade lithium-ion battery. Shown here is the five-foot, six-inch Cruiser with a classic wing.

I absolutely love to get out on the water and excitement builds each time I get an opportunity to eFoil. 

Once the beautifully crafted carbon fiber board and foil is staged on the edge of water, I open the hatch and load the lithium-ion battery into the waterproof compartment. My index finger presses the stainless steel button and a cool neon blue light shines around it. The Lift eFoil powers up and I close the hatch. We are ready to ride. 

Although I have watched many instruction videos, I have adopted my own best practices. 

I find it easiest to float the board upside down in the water with the foil in the air until there is enough clearance. Then I turn the board over, climb on into a prone position and after a few strokes to ensure I am at a safe depth, I turn on the wireless Bluetooth hand remote and gently press the trigger. 

At first the board plows through the water at a 30-degree angle causing a small wake. While leaning forward, I give it more power and the propeller hums as the board planes on the surface. 

At this point the board becomes stable, which provides the confidence to hop up into a foot surf stance with my feet on either side of the centerline. 

I’m now cruising across the water leaning side to side as the board turns back and forth. I’m not yet foiling but the feeling is incredible. 

The wind is in my face and the sound of the water slapping against the board suggests that I am moving around 15 mph. 

Once I am comfortable, I rock back on my right foot to engage the dynamics of the foil wing well below the surface and then adjust my weight forward as the board rises into the air. The vibrations and sounds disappear as there is minimal resistance. 

I’m flying above the water looking for a rogue wave or the wake from the Lady of the Lake to carve on. 

In flat water it feels like skiing deep powder and the pure enjoyment of effortless turns is surreal. Besides the occasionally wipeout, the outing is fairly chill. 

Everyday I’m on the water is intoxicating — I’m still thinking about surfing vacations but no longer needing to leave the area to look for that perfect wave.

To learn more about eFoils, contact Todd at (509) 670-2596 or toddstrahm@yahoo.com.

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