HOW TO APPROACH NEW TRICKS - WITH BENJAMIN
BENJAMIN MAY’S WING FOILING RESOLUTIONS FOR 2024!
In 2023, Benjamin May’s first year as a professional on the GWA World Tour, the Bavarian impressively reached the top field and secured his first title as Vice World Champion in Big Air in the nuking winds of Gran Canaria.
Living south of Munich and calling the Bavarian lakes like Walchensee or Tegernsee his home spots, the 19-year-old usually does not get spoiled by strong winds at all. That makes his achievements even more remarkable and Benjamin a true role model to any inland Wing Foilers! We wonder how he keeps on pushing his freestyle repertoire and what are his resolutions for his second GWA World Cup season 2024.
What are your Wing Foiling goals for 2024 and what new maneuvers are on your wish list to learn this year? Read Benjamin’s personal tips and tricks on how to approach your dream moves most successfully.
What an impressive debuting GWA World Cup season, Benjamin, congratulations! Unfortunately, it has abruptly ended with your ankle injury in Denmark, so we are happy to see you back on the foil for a few weeks already. What is the status of your recovery and how do you prepare your come back?
Right now, recovery is going well. After I spent three months at home recovering after the surgery, I am now in Cape Town getting back on the foil. I already had a couple Wing Foiling sessions at home, but the current temperatures are not too comfortable. So besides doing rehab training every day, I started to get into Downwinding as it’s the only strapless Foil sport I could do. I made my first Downwinder at one of my local lakes with -1°C and it worked out quite well. And with all that pumping in between, it’s perfect to build up the muscley in my leg again.
Currently I’m still doing everything to get rid of the pain in my foot, but I’m going to start riding with straps soon again.
What have you learned from this setback and your first, successful World Cup season in general?
A lot. Most of the things you don’t learn in school or university. One big point is organization. Especially a lot about how to get from point A to B as I’m not allowed yet to rent a car by myself, so this was quite a challenge sometimes!
Regarding my injury it’s very important for me to take enough rest from the training and get more into a healthy lifestyle. Eating vegetables, fruits and healthy food is very important. As it says: “You are what you eat”. Then I train my muscles to avoid injuries and most importantly to have fun what I’m doing. Otherwise, all of this won’t last long.
How do you see the latest developments in Wing Foiling competitions and the whole GWA World Cup circuit?
Very interesting! As I was injured the last 4 months and unfortunately missed the last two stops in Tarifa and Brazil, I was watching all the time what the other riders are creating. I’m really stoked to see someone like Jerome getting some kitesurfing tricks into Wing Foiling. This really brought it all to another level. Before we mostly saw tricks converting from Windsurfing into Wing Foiling and almost no Kitesurfing tricks. But now this whole thing has gotten a lot more interesting. So many new tricks and variations that can score high points in competition. This is very important for the sport to push it and make it interesting for the audience and the future.
In racing it’s currently quite hard to find a good format everyone is happy with. Normally I really do prefer up- and downwind courses and long-distance races. Because usually on the super small racecourses it gets very tight with the riders you can easily break your material. What’s also a bit missing is the tactical factor which I personally like a lot but it’s not yet that important in the GWA races.
On the other hand, events like Brazil or Fuerteventura are very interesting to watch for the spectators and I mean from the viewers point who doesn’t like a spectacular crash with material damage.
What are the “must have” tricks for a chance to step on the podium in Freestyle and which spectacular maneuvers are on your list to add to your repertoire?
I think there is not that one trick you must be able to do to land on the podium. This year in almost every single competition we saw a new trick scoring high scores. If you have a couple of tricks not many riders are able to do, your chances are good to land on the podium. Best example is the 1080. This year only one rider was able to land them consistently and he always got at least 9 out of 10 points on this trick. So, staying inventive helps.
But to be within the top riders you should be able to do the basics like a back flip and a front flip.
When approaching a new trick, how do you usually proceed? How many attempts do you normally need to get them dialed in?
That’s hard to say. Usually, it depends on how difficult the trick is. If it’s a trick that is quite like another one, I get them fast. Maybe around five to ten attempts to land them safe. If it’s something completely new it can take a while. We’ll see how long I need for the Backmobe. As I never really have trained handle pass intensively, I think it will take some time to land them properly.
Thinking of an average rider, what are your hottest tips that apply any kind of trick, if it is getting on the foil, learning to tack, or landing 360ies?
In general, good preparation is key to learning new movements. I’m not trying a trick unless I have the whole movement in my mind. This doesn’t just relate to Wing Foiling. In every sports activity you should prepare and be aware of what can happen to find a quick solution. Because when you are in a trick, jibe or anything else and something unexpected happens your mind works a lot better if it knows how to handle the situation. This way you can avoid material damage and physical damage to your body.
Before coming to Wing Foiling, you were an ambitious ski racer and still do proper flips over big kickers. In what way do you benefit from these early winter sport experiences?
Even though I’m now into a completely different sport, the four years being in a professional youth squad are helping a lot. For Wing Foiling definitely, the strong legs I got from skiing are very important to avoid hard impacts. But also, all the muscular structure helps to do all my tricks and resist the pressure.
In addition, I learned already at a young age how to organize myself as I was away from home almost every weekend training or riding competition during wintertime. This really helps a lot even though it’s now even harder as I must organize everything by myself and back then my trainer and the federation helped a lot.
What resolutions do you have for 2024 and what are your goals for your second GWA World Cup season?
To become WORLD CHAMPION in the Big Air contest.
To be able to ride all freestyle tour stops and hopefully get a top five overall result.
To get through the season without an injury.
To travel the world, get to know new places and people.
To keep on with university.
Thanks a lot Benjamin - we keep our fingers crossed. Stay healthy and may all your wishes come true!
JULIEN LELEU, FRITHJOF BLASCH / BULGENSLAG & GWA