After an injury took away his dream of snow skiing competitively and a move to Florida swapped mountains for the ocean, Daryl Drown transfered his love of snow sports to surfing and kiteboarding. But in 2003, while on a trip to Barbados, Daryl Drown decided to try something new – foilboarding. It wasn’t love at first try though. His first attempt was “a disaster,” he states in unequivocal terms. “I didn’t love it.” He didn’t touch a foilboard again until a little over two years ago, but, as it turns out, time (and practice) turned foilboarding into a thrilling new hobby.
Technically speaking, foilboarding uses a special surfboard with an attached fin with wings that extends below the water causing the board to lift above the surface so that the rider stands a few feet in the air as it moves through the water. “The learning curve is hard, but fast,” Daryl says of his latest extreme passion. “As long as you make it through the first handful of times and don’t quit, you’ll get it.”
Although there are not many yet in our area that participate in this sport (and no place that rents equipment because of the expense and fragility of the foil), Daryl says that foilboarding is the fastest-growing aspect of water sports in general, mainly due to its versatility and challenge. “Every time you go out, you learn more by accident,” he says.
The original owner of Ocean Extreme Sports, which he sold, Daryl is now in the business of selling rest instead – he owns the hammock store on the northern end of St. George Street. These days, his time is divided between working out at the gym, the hammock store, some scuba diving, and foilboarding, which suits him perfectly. Normally, warmer times of the year are best to foilboard, and he takes advantage of his schedule by foilboarding in the afternoon and evening thermal air.
Daryl feels foilboarding is a perfect sport for St. Augustine and North Florida. “Foilboarding has taken light wind and small waves and made them completely exciting,” he shares, “which is perfect for St. Augustine.” And it’s also a great way to pick up a new sport for those who may have become bored with traditional board sports.
“It gives me the sensation of flying, and it’s the closest feeling I can get to snowboarding or skiing in powder.” Darryl says. And when you watch what he can do on a foilboard, you see that he does, indeed, fly.
Photography by Brian Miller