When a close friend who lives on Pokegama Lake sent us an action photo of his son doing some sort of quite athletic and obviously thrilling wind-surfing during a big blow last week, our first reaction, and this might date some of us, was, “Yowser!” The pic, of course, would be immediately recognizable for some of the younger water sect, which for sure has grown during this summer of no organized and uniformed competitive sports discontent.
For those of us who spend our water-time mostly in pursuit of that magical tug on the end of our fishing rods, however, and we are saying this from a fishing world that uses terminology as effusively as a first-time summer visitor to the northland uses bug spray, this type of watersport image might indeed capture our fancy. But, to accurately identify the activity would, if we didn’t go to the “making something up well,” most likely have us heading down the Google “rabbit hole” (Lewis Carrol’s 1865 novel, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” of course).
Our friend, and we are sure all of you have such acquaintances, those who are always in the know, “not that there is anything wrong with that” (“Seinfeld,” 1993, S4, E17, “The Outing”), is one of those quite entertainingly and enlightening knowledgeable souls who really doesn’t flaunt what he knows, but is also never shy about sharing info with introductions like, “Did you know” or “For example.” In this regard, he and his clued-up ilk, are living and breathing paragons of what Lewis Carroll’s character “Humpty Dumpty” (as an egg) said in Carroll’s 1871 book, “Through the Looking-Glass”: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” To which Alice said, “The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” answered Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
Our friend’s fitting caption was, “Foiled again!” and like it is for most terms, the word “foil” will obviously have some of us thinking of varying images like “tinfoil.” If, by the way, you are still using the word “tin” rather than “aluminum” foil, you were probably raised in another era, one where you were taught when typing (key-boarding, word-processing) to double-space after sentences (single spacing is the norm today).
As we are still in the world of “distance learning,” to background, “tin” is a chemical element with the symbol Sn (from the Latin, “stannum”) and the atomic number 50. It is a silvery metal soft enough to be cut without much force. Interestingly enough, although considered a modern kitchen and industry miracle when invented in the late 19th C. and was commonly used in industrialized countries, after WWII it was essentially replaced by the cheaper and more durable “aluminum” foil. Used in this manner, “foil” is defined as a very thin sheet of metal, usually made by hammering or rolling. As a side note, believe it or not, tin or aluminum foil was sometimes used in inane juvenile bets where coins were pooled to get that one “up for anything” kid to see if he could chew the foil for a minute! Some things you just can’t make up!
Others who were raised in the hey-day of cartoons will for sure think of that line from the animated action/adventure world of “Rocky & Bullwinkle,” which ran on television from 1959-1964 and was every bit as important to young minds then as was “Superman.” Wikipedia explains the series was structured like a variety show, with the main feature being the serialized escapades of the two title characters, Rocket J. (‘Rocky”) Squirrel and his moose buddy, “Bullwinkle” J. Moose. As “foils,” the main antagonists were mostly Russian-like spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, both working for the Nazi-like dictator “Fearless Leader.” Obviously at the time (and even now), the use of Russian and Nazi villains was not only popular, but a subtle way teaching America’s youth the ways of world politics and America’s enemies.
Supporting segments of the series included “Dudley Do-Right” (a parody of old-time melodramas), “Peabody’s Improbable History” (a dog named “Mr. Peabody” and his boy “Sherman” traveling through time) and “Fractured Fairy Tales” (classic fairy tales retold in comic fashion), among others. “Dudley Do-Right” of the Canadian Mounties was, of course, a heroic character, forever coming to the rescue of his girlfriend, Nell, who would be abducted and tied to the railroad tracks by the sinister arch villain “Snidely K. Whiplash,” whose handlebar moustache and black top hat and cape marked him as a bad guy. Snidely’s frustration at being out-foxed by the inept and clueless Dudley came at the end of each segment as he shook his fist and uttered the bad guy regret: “Curses! Foiled again!” Just so you know, varying nicknames for friends, enemies, family, teachers, bosses and the like were sometimes given to those whose personalities and demeanors matched the above characters!
Anyhow, and sorry about the wide-ranging digression (again), but when we went down the Google “rabbit hole,” we found that our friend’s caption was a play on words likening the watersport activity his son was so expertly executing to “hydrofoiling,” which is defined as “a lifting surface, or foil, that operates in water.”
In this week’s column picture, our friend’s son is on a “foilboard” or “hydrofoil board,” which Wikipedia and other commercial foilboard companies tell us “is basically a surfboard with a ‘hydrofoil’ that extends below the board into the water. This design causes the board to leave the surface of the water at various speeds, allowing the rider to glide with the moving wave by harnessing the kinetic energy with the underwater swell. In addition, hydrofoil kiteboards enable the rider to achieve the same result with the use of a kite. Amazingly, the hydrofoil minimizes the effects of choppy or rough conditions. Due to the hydrofoil’s underwater characteristics, the rider can also angle higher into the wind than on traditional kiteboards which ride on the surface of the water.” Just so you know, after abandoning them for 25 years, the Navy has come out with new hydrofoil boats. Check them out!
Before some of you dyed-in-the-wool anglers begin to pooh-pooh this new-fangled version of the old-fashioned water skiing, surfing and tubing, and begin a diatribe on the disruption of your fishing, however, consider the athletic, outdoor-oriented and pure joy of wind and water in your face components of hydrofoiling. Sure, there are some fishing people who pine to have the good old days of fishing back when there were very few speedboats, pontoons, houseboats, jet skis and the like sharing “our” water, but before we do we should take a good hard gander at what we modern anglers look like in this day and age of space-age electronics, mega horse-powered motors, glitzy, massive boats and over-the-top gizmos, gadgets, garments and gear. A good example of this dichotomy would be the high-falutin, NASCAR-like patched-up bass fishermen with $100,000 rigs getting upset with kids being pulled on a tube while those same fishermen plunk lures under and clank them off people’s docks, pontoons, swimming rafts and even anchored sailboats and paddle boats and then winching in the bass on hundred-pound test line and hoisting them like they were chattel! As one lake-place owner quipped on the q.t., understanding that Minnesota’s waters are indeed public, when a big-buck bass rig with a cameraman to boot plied the same dock off which his young kids caught bass and sunnies, big and small, with Snoopy and Barbie rods, “So much for the thousands of dollars-worth of electronics; it doesn’t take much high-tech sophistication or professional prowess to find a dock!”
Granted, there are some fishermen still in the “row, row, row your boat” realm, but not many. If fact, probably about as many as those who still have the buffalo head shaped screened televisions rather than flat screens (not that there is anything wrong with that) we would guess. That said, just like the kayakers, canoeists and paddle boarders have their niche, so do those who also go the non-fishing route, whether wind, sail or power-driven. The key, of course, is respect - respect your wakes, your closeness to swimmers and other vessels and always understand the water belongs to all of us. Then, embrace the Biblical “Golden Rule,” which, if we all lived by, would definitely lead to a much kinder and more peaceful world, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Moreover, we should always look in the mirror before we judge others.
We will leave you with many people’s favorite quote about water from Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through it and Other Stories”: “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”
Nik and Rod Dimich of Dimich Outdoors are on Mercury Marine’s and Ray’s Sport & Marine’s pro staffs; Rod is also a pro-staffer for L&M Supply. To contact Dimich Outdoors, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Kristin Dimich contributes to this column.