Spotz founder and designer Jérôme Courtois started shaping custom surf and windsurf boards in 1996. It wasn’t too long after that he started shaping kiteboards. However, after seeing his foilboard first at a race event in France, he has focused exclusively on foilboards since 2009. In 2013, Jerome founded SoCarbon LLC to meet the growing demands of the market and to establish a more reliable production process. Today, the company has five employees and all boards are 100% manufactured in France.
Spotz foils were one of the first models to show up on the San Francisco race scene. What’s the short story behind Spotz’ start in the foilboarding market?
Since 1996, I have been shaping surf and windsurf boards and just a few years later, kitesurf boards. I did experiment with foil tech on a board back in 2000, however, Spotz’ foil story starts a bit later. After a few years of kiteboard shaping, I was exposed to a kite foil at a French race event in 2009. Intrigued, I started to develop my own foil straight away. It was just a piece of wood reinforced with carbon fiber, but it worked well the first time I put it in the water. It was a good start for me to understand kite foil theory and dynamics. A few months later, I created my second foil. Between 2009 and 2010, I produced about 20 foils. Difficult and time consuming to produce, I decided to work on a higher performance foil, with better production tools. In 2011, after four months of intensive development and testing, the Spotz1 was ready. Its performance and feeling offered lots more than could be found on the kite foil market at the time. This design was produced and used at international events until we created the Spotz2 in May 2014. Now, the Spotz3, named Tuna, is ready to make more kiteboarders happy!
Do your foils fall into the category of low, medium or high aspect foils and which model do you recommend to a beginner foilboarder?
For 2016, in order to meet the increasing demand of racers, freeriders and wave riders, we are developing a nice range of wings and masts from medium to high aspect. The Freerace front wing is also being offered. This medium/high aspect foil is very rigid and fast but it still offers a lot of control. That is why it won the last international event in Australia’s difficult wind conditions and also what makes it suitable for beginners. Easier wings will also come soon; for example, for wave riding and pure racing wings.
The Spotz mast uses a box to connect with the board. What style of box is used and what are the benefits of this system?
The very common windsurfing ‘Tuttle’ box was chosen a few years ago because it was the only box that reached the foil specifications; it is rigid, solid, easy to use, reliable with its two screws and can easily be found all over the world. We still use the ‘Tuttle’ box but our masts will be soon be available with other boxes, such as the ‘Pro Box’.
The winds attach to the fuselage by sliding into a male/female connection. What are the benefits of this design?
This connection lessens drag by avoiding having the fuselage on top of the wing. It is also a part of the back wing angle setting patented system, which allows the foiler to precisely adjust the nose-up effect of his or her foil while keeping a perfect hydrodynamic fuselage.
What’s the difference between the performance and handling characteristics between the Freerace and the Speed Crossing front wing and what kind of rider should choose these wings?
On the Spotz2, we first created the Slalom front wing. It was very fast but could be challenging for common riders. In September 2014, we created the Freerace front wing. This powerful and stable design had great success and won an international event the first time it was used. It was so much more stable than the Slalom wing that it became suitable for beginners too. In 2015, we created the Speed Crossing front wing with a higher ratio aspect and a smaller surface. It also offers even more control and is perfect for higher winds or lighter riders. The Freerace is ideal for very low wind, heavy riders, beginners (because it needs less speed to take off) and racing competition (mostly upwind and downwind). The Speed Crossing will perform at its best in 15 knots or more. It is better suited for lighter riders, and, of course, it will be perfect for speed crossing competitions (mostly cross wind). While it is true that both are fast, the Freerace design can still be used by beginners and is commonly used to teach foilboarding in many kite schools.
Do you sell a board to go with your foils and if so what are the key features of your design?
Yes, we developed and are now producing a board that is perfect to be used with our Spotz2 and Tuna foils. We wanted a compact board with enough volume to help the rider in low wind and transitions, but that was small enough to be neutral and offer easy handling. We also wanted it to be super user-friendly with great control and a smooth feeling when gliding through the water while going upwind and doing transitions. This board gives us everything we were looking for! It made so many people happy that we will keep the same shape in 2016. For added fun, colors will be coming soon.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
As previously mentioned, Spotz’ Tuna foil was just launched. While the back wing connection remains the same, the main difference compared to Spotz2 is the new front wing connection. The wing and the first 30cm of the fuselage are now in one unique piece. The mast goes inside the fuselage via a conic box and is fastened by two screws. It is very rigid, reliable, hydrodynamic, easy to handle and simple to pack up. Keeping its smooth feeling and great speed, it offers more control to riders and makes the Tuna an even easier foil to use; all aspects that make a Spotz foil so different from others.