Foil Wing talk with Olivia Jenkins

Duotone Foil Wing Olivia Jenkins interview

Hi Olivia! Please tell us a little about who you are and where you are from…

Hi! I was born in Plymouth, England but have lived in the USA for the past 17 years and currently reside on the north shore of Maui, Hawaii. I am a student, obtaining a Master’s in Public Health and am interested in infectious disease epidemiology. I have been kitesurfing for 9 years and wing foiling for less than 1 year. I grew up sailing so I have been around water sports since an early age.

Duotone Foil Wing Olivia Jenkins interview
Duotone Foil Wing Olivia Jenkins interview

Living full time in Maui is a lot of people’s dream scenario.  How often do you get out on the water and these days, what do those sessions look like? (wing, kite, surf, etc)

I feel extremely lucky to live here! Living just a minute’s walk from the ocean, I make it a point to get out onto the water every single day, even just for a quick session. I either kitesurf, wing foil, surf, foil surf, swim, or free-dive, depending on the conditions and/or the season. During the winter I usually get up early in the morning to surf Ho’okipa and kitesurf during the day. During the summer I try to dawn patrol longboard the south side of the island and then return back to the north shore during the day for a wing-foil downwinder, wing-foil jump session, or a strapless freestyle kiteboard session. Every day is different!


Like with many of us, you’ve more recently jumped firmly onto the Foil Wing band wagon. What inspired you to get into this new sport?

I saw how much fun people were having with the new sport and decided to give it a go myself.

Ken Winner lives just down the road from me. He was making many prototypes and asked if we wanted to give it a go! I’m always up to try something new, so was keen to try out the wings.


What was it like for you to learn how to do it?

It was quite frustrating, and I gained many new blisters on my shins… I started out on a 95-liter board and a 3-meter prototype Duotone boom wing. Patri Mclaughlin and I went to the windsurf beach on a very windy day and learned to maneuver the wing on this big board. I already knew how to surf foil and kite foil, so this made it a bit easier for me to ride the board. We rode this big board once and then went down to a 45-liter board. We are really lucky to have a long coastline on Maui to do downwinders. We park a car downwind, then drive upwind about 5 miles and start there. Patri and I were both new to the sport, so we went on downwinders together and were cracking up the whole time. It was a fun learning curve.

Duotone Foil Wing Olivia Jenkins interview

Tell us about your progression…

I think it was easier to learn than kiteboarding, but that was probably because I already had knowledge of the wind and how to ride the board with a foil. I think if I had some background knowledge of how to windsurf, it would have made it even easier.

I started out on a 95-liter board and 3-meter wing, then went to a 45-liter board, then a 35 liter board, and now I consistently ride a 25 liter board and 4 meter wing. As I gained more confidence in my wing skills, I dropped down in board volume to increase the maneuverability. I think the biggest breakthrough for me was when I learned how to ride a smaller board with straps that I was able to sink.

Riding on the big board was relatively easy for me. Progressing to a smaller board was the hardest part. It took quite a long time to feel stable on the 45-liter board, especially when going from kneeling to standing up. Doing many downwinders definitely helped me with this, because I could try over and over again for about an hour without having to walk back upwind. 

I also had no background in doing downwinders and riding the ocean swells. When getting on a bump, I struggled to keep the nose of my board down and half the time I would fly out of the water from too much lift. It was a big breakthrough when I learned how to ride these bumps more effectively and has since been a lot more fun to do downwinders.

Duotone Foil Wing Olivia Jenkins interview

You are also a professional Kitesurfer and avid surfer, how does this new sport fit in amongst all of your other activities?

I wouldn’t say that wing foiling has replaced kitesurfing or surfing for me. Sometimes just kitesurfing flat water during the summer becomes monotonous, so adding in wing foiling has definitely been a bonus. I don’t kite waves or surf any less due to my new interest in wing foiling. It just gives me that third activity to do daily, which has been amazing since I love to keep moving! It has also helped to keep me active during the summer which I think is definitely preparing me for a winter of kitesurfing. Wing foiling is definitely helping to improve my prone foil surfing skills, as I have learned to pump more effectively.

Duotone Foil Wing Olivia Jenkins interview

Tell us about the Foil Wing scene in Maui? 

Wing foiling has become popular on Maui for all age groups. I have had ocean athletes in all disciplines asking if I could help them learn. I am also constantly being asked about gear and where to get it. Just this past week about 5 different random people have asked me about gear. There are a lot of surfers on the island and the surf has been pretty bad this summer. Maui is always windy every day in the summer so there have been a lot of surfers that are picking up winging to stay busy and to learn something new. There are also a lot of older windsurfers and kitesurfers that are learning to wing foil since it is such a natural transition. There’s interest coming from all angles.

There’s a harbor in the center of the island that is a really great place to learn. Every time I go there, there are more and more people out. There’s a bit of a crew down at the harbor of wing foil fanatics. It is great to see a sport emerge that people are so excited about.


What’s the access like in Maui?

I believe all beaches are open to wing foiling on Maui right now which is awesome. There are two main beaches people learn at –the Kahului Harbor and upper Kanaha Beach Park.

I think we will maybe see some problems between surfers and wing foilers this winter at Ho’okipa when the waves return. So far there has not really been any waves on the north shore this summer so there hasn’t been much interaction.

When the waves come back you will see wing foilers going out at surf spots, so there is a possibility the surfers might get mad if the wing foilers get too close. Surfers definitely have priority!


Who’s in your Foil Wing Crew?  Are these the same friends that you kite with or a whole different scene?

It’s a mix of kiters and non-kiters. There has been a fun little crew that has consistently wing foiled Sugar Cove in Maui most windy days this summer. It consists of Annie Reickert, Ridge Lenny, Jeffrey Spencer, Finn Spencer and me. They are all incredible foilers in all disciplines (standup, surf, etc.) so I definitely look up to them for help. I know that Ridge and Jeffrey know how to kite but I have never kited with them before. I have been teaching Annie to kite this summer and she is killing it! I did a ton of downwind wing foil runs with Annie and Ethan Koopmans this past summer, there was a point where we were going every day. Ethan is also a really good kiter.


What do you see for the future of Wing Foiling?

There is so much interest in wing foiling in all age groups around the world so I think that sooner or later we will see a world tour emerge. It is inevitable that there will be a race series and I definitely think there will be freestyle competitions. I bet there will be a lot of discovery in the freestyle discipline, sooner or later you will see windsurfing and kiteboarding tricks done by Wing Foilers.  It will also be interesting to see how brands improve their gear. Since the sport is so new, it is only up from here! This sport is definitely here to stay.

Do you see yourself ever competing?

If any competitions arise in the future, I could maybe see myself competing. I’d need to learn quite a few more tricks, haha. I think if I have to choose between competing in kitesurfing and competing in wing foiling then I would choose kiting, but I am definitely open to competing in winging!


What’s the latest thing your working on?

I am working on doing a 360 but so far have had more faceplants than successes. I am also continuing to work on laying out my raleys.


What’s your biggest goal at the moment?

My biggest goals are to become comfortable riding waves with the wing this winter and to expand my trick repertoire.

Duotone Foil Wing Olivia Jenkins interview