We’ve had the chance to meet Joris of D’light, a board brand based in Tenerife, also making windsurf foiling board now. Never heard about it? That’s actually not so surprising. D’light is only sold in Tenerife, to visitors and regular customers, so not much international exposure but nevertheless a strong reputation for high quality custom boards.
Joris has dedicated his life to windsurfing, always been driven by passion. He has been making boards since 1979 for surfing, kitesurfing and now hydrofoil on any kind of boards.
As an active sportsman, Joris enjoys skiing, snowboarding, and waterskiing. Not only that, he has been doing triathlons and trail-running for nearly 10 years, highlights being Ironman and Ultra Trail Mont Blanc.
With his long experience in the windsurfing world, we were curious to get Joris’ thoughts about the new foiling trend, and we were not disappointed. He has a very different view on foiling than most of the big brands and the common views on the new sport. Read our exciting talk with Joris:
Name: Joris Vander Linden
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Home Spot: El Cabezo, Tenerife
Windfoil Zone: Thanks for answering our questions, Joris! How would you describe yourself?
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Joris: I have dedicated most of my life to sports activities and when I start something, I go for it 200%. That means, no compromises, I put everything else in my life completely on hold. I have tried many times to do things with more moderation and consider other priorities, but it doesn’t work…
WZ: Tell us about windfoiling. When did your windfoil journey begin? Can you describe your first impressions?
Joris: Hydrofoil came into my life with kiting. My relation with ShinnWorld (a kiteboard brand) and some Belgian friends gave me the opportunity to try foiling, even if in Tenerife it hadn’t appeared yet.
I had an early try on a kiteboard, but was disappointed as I didn’t get more than 2 seconds on the foil in the first run. So I decided it was not for me, especially because at that particular moment, I was fully into and focused on triathlons and trail-running.
Finally, I had to stop trail-running because of an injury and considered getting back into water sports. I went to a Naish dealer meeting in Tarifa in June 2018 and got the chance to try kitefoiling again.
On the kite, it was a disaster once more, but I managed to get foiling on the Naish Hover windfoil in my first attempt. I definitely wanted more. In Tenerife, the demand for foilboards was growing so I decided that I needed to learn, or at least to know how to develop better boards for hydrofoil.
Since then, I’ve been on the water, or better yet – above the water, including hard meetings with the surface, at least 3 or 4 times a week, mostly kitefoiling, secondly windfoiling and a few times supfoiling. Surffoiling isn’t possible for me right now, due to hip issues.
Winds are strong here during the whole summer and even if it gets lighter in the autumn, I’ve been mostly riding with over 20kts and rarely on flat water.
WZ: Can you tell us a bit more D’light boards? When did it all get started?
Joris: I started sailing at the age of 13, first optimist, later 420, and 470 on lakes in Belgium. In 1977, my father took me to a windsurfing course with yellow Ten Cate windsurf boards.
I remember that we had to pull out grass from the lake shore and put it over the gap of the mast base. This helped to lock the wooden block into the boards when uphauling to lift the wooden boom. You can’t imagine how scared I was that the mast could maybe pop out and hit me between the legs!
(Windfoil Zone: In the early days, the connection between the mast and the board itself wasn’t very good. So when you were uphauling the sail, you had to be very careful as the mast often came out of the board!)
As I said before, when I go for something it’s at 200%, so a few months later I was sponsored and going to all the local windsurf races. There was no internet, so we were buying magazines. Mainly the French Wind Magazine and the German Surf. Pictures of Robby Naish, Cort Larned, Matt Schweitzer, Jurgen Honscheid and many more jumping over waves in Hawaii were blowing my mind.
The only board available for riding in heavy seas was the windsurfer Rocket, but it was too long, I never even had one. In Cornwall (UK) there were some custom board builders making boards that were a little shorter and with a smaller dagger board. They had 12 or more footstraps. But that was still not what I was seeing in the magazines.
On a trip to Lake Garda, we met Randy Naish, Robby’s brother. He gave us some demos on a self-made board that was light and only 3m long. We took pictures of it and as soon as we were back in Belgium, together with 2 friends, we bought all the necessary materials and started building our first boards.
College windsurfers asked me if I could make them a similar board and I sold a few boards. Then other friends started the D’light company and I started working for them in shaping the boards. For 7 years in Belgium, making polyester boards, and finally moved to Tenerife in the Canary Islands in 1990, where I got much more international feedback and input, while having a 365 day long season every year.
The windsurfing level raised quickly in Tenerife and some people got very far as professional windsurfers, most started on boards that I had made for them. Then kiting came along, just when Mark Shinn arrived in Tenerife and began working for me. His level went from 0 to World Champion in 2 years and we developed boards together.
As far as kiting goes, he helped me get a good reputation for the boards, filling in the gap as windsurfing was dying down a little bit. Now the market for kiteboards is completely saturated. But now foiling has started, so I try to be on the boat, or maybe even be the captain of the boat… hehe.
WZ: That’s true, we’ve seen that you are very active with windfoiling boards, and creative with some board shapes in your collection. Could you explain what is your inspiration and the concept behind your shapes?
Joris: I think that for most people, windfoiling sounds like a big and wide slalom board that has a foil underneath instead of the big fin. And this image is absolutely not what I see. Already at the Naish meeting, Robby said he saw windfoiling as a sport to get the older generation back on the water in easy conditions, freeriding, taking a different path from other brands that were fitting high speed foils on there top of the range slalom boards. But I think I still went further.
In my opinion, it’s a big mistake to see a foil as an accessory to put on a windsurf board. Kiters want to put a foil under their kiteboard, surfers want to put a foil under their surfboard and windsurfers want to put it under their light-wind slalom board. They don’t even want to discuss where it should be, it goes in the finbox… Unfortunately, by using it as an accessory, it harms the creativity of the R&D teams.
My way is to start right from 0. We have a windsurf sail, a kite or a wave (natural or the wake of a boat) to keep our foil going. Now we need something to stand on. I looked at everything on the market, the foil-surfboards, foil-sups, foil-kiteboards and at the windfoil boards and thought about where we wanted to go to, what is the goal?
Classic windsurfing started on flat water. We started racing, then we learned tricks and at the end, we went into the waves. Seeing what foilsurfing is already achieving, I have no doubt that windfoiling will go through the same steps as classic windsurfing did, and we can already clearly see it.
So I’m not interested in the race foiling, especially as here in Tenerife the conditions are too rough, but mostly because for myself, I like to ride waves.
At first, I wanted to combine supfoiling with windfoiling, something Naish and F-one have done too but realized it doesn’t work. It took me having a few headaches to finally find out why.
But after testing and making pieces myself, I realized that a windsurf board is so inefficient that it needs a fin to balance out the lateral draft caused by the sail, converting it into forward motion. Not only that, but if the fin is not in the right place, the position to go straight is not correct neither. So the mast has to be further back in the board, while the front wing of the foil still needs to be far enough forward to create lift in the right place.
But just like in classic windsurfing, there is a very different position for waves and for racing, which most brands have not taken into consideration. The deep tuttle box is doomed in my opinion. Depending on riding style, foil type, and water conditions, the position of the foil is different. So I use the baseplate in US box tracks.
The shape of my boards is a combination of all concepts, surf-foilboards, kite-foilboards and windfoil-boards. But keep in mind that I’m not focused on racing but on “freewave”, at least until a real “wave”-foil board is invented. In 6 months’ time, there has been quite a lot of change in my ideas about the “perfect” shape. The first board is still working very well, but the latest ones are much better. It’s definitely changing the sport. But I didn’t invent anything, I just put ideas together that came from other sides.
It’s time to detach hydrofoil sports from their original grandfathers. A surfboard is not a foil-surfboard. A kiteboard is not a foil-kiteboard and a windsurf board will never be a windfoil-board. Imagine sticking 2 skis together to use it as a snowboard (in fact, it exists)… that’s how a windsurf board works as a foil board.
But the same story goes for the way of riding. In windsurfing, we stand and push 90% on our back foot, while windfoiling is more balanced on both feet. But when you come from normal windsurfing, it feels like you have to be totally on your front foot, even if that is just the feeling.
Windfoiling on the back foot doesn’t work and forgive me if something changes in the future but I don’t think it will ever work. It’s like snowboarding. You ride on both legs. It’s a new sport and a new style. From windsurfing we inherit our handling of the sail and some skills for water starting, jibing and tacking, but the way to ride is different.
WZ: I’m sure I’ll get some questions about availability and price, so tell us where people can buy your boards.
Joris: Unfortunately, I decided to make boards in Tenerife. The conditions are really good here, all year round. But for business, it couldn’t be in a worse place. I cannot ship boards anywhere, it’s too expensive. People have to come here to pick up the boards they order. Flight companies still take gear for very reasonable prices, so it’s not too hard to take your equipment home yourself.
As long as there is no project for getting production elsewhere, I hope to get enough clients here in Tenerife to survive. I can use this opportunity to invite everyone to come over -it’s windy, sunny, not expensive, easy to reach from nearly any country in Europe and I hope to have some gear people can try out before next summer starts.
For any questions, just contact me.
WZ: Windfoiling is still very young and is still a niche. How do you see the evolution of the sport going forward? Is it a real revolution of modern windsurfing?
Joris: As I said earlier, I would never call it a revolution of windsurfing. It’s a new sport, the metamorphosis concepts will soon disappear. The sport will definitely grow, it’s exciting and it allows us to get in the water in a different range of conditions compared to radical wave windsurfing, but offering similar feelings.
It will probably always be a niche. You already need to know how to windsurf before you can even try, it’s not very easy and a lot of people are very scared of the big heavy fins under the board.
I think there will be more and more dedicated windfoilers. Also windsurfers that don’t windsurf any more without the foil, and they will get out in all conditions, strong winds, big waves, races, freestyle and waveriding.
WZ: Thank you for answering our questions. Do you have anything to add as a final word?
Joris: My final words would be: Let there please be peace. When windfoiling starts to interfere with conservative waveriders, there will for sure be tension on the water. Remember we all have the same rights, the sea and the waves don’t belong to anyone, respect everyone and try to keep it safe for everyone.