OUR SECOND 19-YEAR-OLD FROM MAUI IS A FULL TIME PROFESSIONAL WATERWOMAN AND A RISING STAR OF THE BIG WAVE SURFING AND NOW WINGING WORLDS ON MAUI
ANNIE REICKERT AGE: 19 LIVES: Maui, Hawaii SPONSORS: The Hydrofoil Company, MFC Hawaii, NSP
Main image: Riding at the cbdMD Jaws big wave event Photo: Erik Aeder
How did you get into wingsurfing? I’ve been wingsurfing for almost a year now. I first tried it when my good friends Jeffrey and Finn Spencer offered to take me on a wing downwind run on my SUP foil board. The run was only three miles long but a downwinder is a great way to learn without the frustration of continuously walking up the beach when you drift downwind. By the end of the run I was turning successfully and staying upwind. My family are always a huge help when it comes to any of the sports that I do. Dad takes pictures, my brother shoots video and mom is my all-around cheerleader! They support and encourage me endlessly in everything, including wing foiling. Is it similar to any other sports experiences you’ve had? For me, learning to wing was a semi-foreign experience. I am in the beginning stages of learning to windsurf and kite, so wing foiling was the first wind sport that I feel like I've truly figured out.
I grew up doing downwind runs along Maui’s north shore on a SUP. When winging was introduced to me, the ability to launch and come in at the same beach and not have to drive and shuttle cars for a downwind run felt so simple. I still love to downwind, but winging from the beach is logistically easier. A whole year later, I love it just as much as the first day I tried it. Can you remember when exactly you first thought, ‘This is brilliant!’? What was it that hooked you? I think the moment I got hooked was during my second wing session when I was able to go out and come in at the same spot without having being blown downwind. It also started to get really exciting when I started being able to ride my prone foil board and trying airs with foot straps. That was a game changer!
Session with the stealthy KT!
Photo: Talia Pashey
Photos: Erick Aeder
Who do usually ride with? I have a super fun group of friends and ocean athletes that I am on the water with every day and many of them have also transitioned into wing foiling. During a typical wing session I'll be riding with Jeffrey and Finn Spencer, Ridge Lenny, Ryan Funk, Olivia Jenkins, Paige Alms or Kai Lenny to name just a few. It's very rewarding to be out on the water with friends and amazing to watch them all push the limits of winging and watersports in general! How have the last few months been for you? I'm a full-time athlete, so it’s been an interesting transition from training for different events each month to having an event-free schedule. During this Covid time the waters on Maui have been more crowded than ever as locals have more free time and are spending it in the water. I am grateful to call Maui home and that I can still get in the water and practice what I love each day. As far as training goes I've been as busy as ever. Off the water I enjoy cross training sports, like running, gym workouts and mountain biking. One of my favourite downtime endeavours when I'm not moving my body is drawing. I find it so peaceful and a great way to clear my mind.
What's your favourite wingsurfing move and why? My favourite wing move is catching air. I have been experimenting lately with a 'whip', where I leave the water and at the apex of the jump I arch my back, fling the foil backwards and let it 'whip' up behind me. Wow, describing it sounds dangerous, but it actually feels controlled and the sensation of being completely stretched out is so unique; the closest I’ve ever felt to flying! What are you currently working on in wingsurfing? Maui summer is in full swing and the trade winds are as strong as ever. I'm working on going bigger and higher on my jumps, utilizing the strong Maui winds to help me. I have also been working on landing a 360. If I try to rotate with too much wind, the wing gets ripped out of my hands, so it’s all about timing and waiting for the right amount of wind. I’ve landed a few of them but I’m not consistent enough to be satisfied yet.
Annie and her whip!
Annie, like so many of us, is inspired by Kai Lenny
Who do you look up to in watersports? There are so many names that come to mind. Of course the greats of the watersports world, like Dave Kalama, Gerry Lopez and Rell Sunn to name a few. One of my good friends, Kai Lenny, is pretty much the gold standard for multi-sport ocean athletes. The things he can do on just about any board in the ocean is absolutely incredible. He inspires me on a daily basis. My favourite surfer is Albee Layer, a fellow Maui resident. I look up to so many people that I share the water with, the list goes on and on.
Where do you see wingsurfing going in the next couple of years? I think the sky’s the limit. I hope we continue to see the progression of freestyle tricks, wave riding and maybe even some racing formats being introduced. I’m excited to see where it goes and hope that I can be a part of the evolution of the sport. Tell us about the equipment you usually use, the sizes and the conditions / wind speeds you usually ride in. My go-to wing equipment consists of a 4'3'' 23L KT Surfing prone foil board with Dakine foot straps, a four metre WASP wing from Ozone Kites and an MFC Hydros x Hydrofoil Company 1000 foil wing. I’ve used this equipment in 15 knots of wind all the way up to 35.