Armstrong Rider, pushing to excel!
Updated: Sep 29
Proud kiwi, passionate member of the Armstrong Foil family. Armstrong Rider, Aidan Nicholas, aged 25 travelled the 18,389 km from New Zealand to The Official Test Centre headquarters in Portland Harbour. The OTC team took Aidan on a whistle stop tour of some of the best spots in the UK, these included The Isle of Wight and Cornwall to rip it up.
New Zealand is the home of Armstrong Foils and the Armstrong Rider came over to spend some time with us here at The Official Test Centre (The OTC), we are the official distributor of Armstrong Foils to the UK market with SurfDoctor, a partnership we are proud of. It was a natural journey for Aidan to make and a great opportunity to grab a chat with the Armstrong Rider and discover what it takes to make the Armstrong brand one of the most stand out in the industry!
In this blog we get to know the super talented Aidan, all about his journey and why foiling has been so revolutionary to the watersports world. Aidan's exhilaration he gets from connecting with the power of the ocean is infectious, in this blog he talks about why he believes the black and white stripes of Armstrong make the brand so distinctive. From the impassioned way Aidan speaks about the brand you can see there is no compromise in what they do, the team behind the development, the design, the engineering, the perfect material selection, the attention to detail and meticulous manufacturing, everyone at Armstrong is involved and this is reflected in Aidan's belief that this is the best money can buy. He is involved from start to finish and exudes enthusiasm and passion about why all the intricate understanding produces a perfect performance, the hard work that goes into creating the end designs you can tell Aidan is proud of the products and is proud to represent Armstrong and as their rider he will always push to excel!
Keep an eye out on all our social media platforms for epic videos of Aidan and The OTC team ripping it up on UK shores!
By Emma Nicholson.
Where did it all start for Aidan?
Aidan said : "I got into watersports as a younger kid, I was sailing Optimist dinghies, my dad was very heavily into the watersport industry more in the sailing aspect and got us into it as kids, we did it for a while and I sailed till I was a young teenager and then stopped and kind of moved away from the watersports and went into riding bikes and doing land based sports for six or seven years.
"Then I came back and jumped into kiting for a little bit, unfortunately I had an accident and injured my knee, so I took a year off and when I got finally back into it, it was when winging came around and I was like I want to try that, so I got a soar-up for the first time in Baha and then I got on the foil in Hood River and I spent a summer up at Hood River, I got addicted very quickly and just wanted to see where I could take the sport, it was pretty epic to see what you could do in a special location like that."
What is it like being the Team Rider for Armstrong?
"I was riding for a while and I knew the guys from Armstrong through friends and then I sort of connected and started talking with Armstrong and it was like they had this cool opportunity for me to be a part of the company and I was stoked to accept that position. I was in the process of trying to figure out what my next steps were and it was perfect timing, it came along just at the right time. I started with Armstrong in February this year and it has been a great time.
"The more you get into Armstrong the more epic it becomes, it's just that it's a full on family and everything is so authentic in a sense, we roll with the punches and we take everything from the design, turning up at events, it's such a cool atmosphere and everyone's just so stoked to be on the water which is pretty epic."
Why does Aidan think Armstrong is such a successful brand?
"There are so many aspects that make a good brand, but the biggest thing about what really shines from Armstrong's perspective is just everyone in the company pretty much does the sport, so everyone is wanting to make the best products they can ride. Even from Armie right at the top to designing it and then Nathan getting the right team together and all the little bits and pieces, the people that come together to keep the brand ticking along. The guys have done a lot of work making sure that the factories are producing great stuff, we have great QC and all those little bits and pieces that make the overall end product. It may look like a simple product, but all the hours and all the different work that's going on behind the scenes, it is incredible to see."
How does Aidan feel foiling has shaped watersports?
"I think it's very cool to see how foiling has fully changed the whole scene, it makes days that you wouldn't even look at more exciting now, so it's like the light wind days when it was only a few knots, it was like OK what am I going to do and then the wind slowly builds to four or five knots and you're like I can't really do any wind sports, but now adding foiling to the sport when it starts to build to those 5, 6, 7 knots, you're like oh OK I now can go out on the water and enjoy it."
Where does Aidan see his development?
"The brand is fully committed to keep on developing and making the best products it can and I just love going with it and enjoying each discipline that we grow, we expand and we make new products and kind of seeing how far I can then push my ability!"
How does Aidan's family feel about what he is achieving?
"They love it, they love that I'm getting out there and travelling and doing all that sort of stuff and my dad's got into the wing foiling and he's loving it, he thought when I was a little kid that sailing would be the one, but when the whole foiling aspect came along it changed everything and flipped it on its head and I was kind of like oh OK it's amazing! It is fascinating to see how the sport has developed and we've seen a cycle in the last 5-10 years, it's just opening up the audience to so many more people in the surf winging world and there's so many aspects to follow and it just keeps growing."
What does your job entail?
"I work for Armstrong full-time, so I do a mix for them, from the R&D with Armie and we do testing blocks and I compete a bit at events, but more getting to the events and helping set up, helping to make sure everything goes smoothly from start to the end and being on the ground for these bigger events that we're sponsoring or when we are a part of them. We want to show the product off and then I help with the marketing team as well, so three different aspects of my job and at Armstrong everyone wears plenty of hats, we are at the end of the day a small little New Zealand brand!"
What type of watersports do you enjoy the most?
"I love a lot of of different disciplines, but wing foiling on the right day is incredible, pump foiling for me is appealing because you've got nothing in your hands, there is a big wave and you're really playing with the energy under the water and it's an energy you can't see and you can't really look at it, only feel and it's like you've got to be in the moment and it's that feeling that is so pure. It's like surfing, but the fact is that we can just surf much longer waves and have that feeling go for a longer period of time, so it is foiling for me, I absolutely love it and then wing foiling is so cool in a spot you can just turn up and be like sweet let's go for a session, but of course in the back of my car I am normally carrying every type of kit and I am ready for anything that's going to happen."
Do you only foil or do you still do like the original side of the sports?
"Currently I only foil, occasionally I touch a surfboard, but every time I do foil I like how I feel I can connect to the waves for longer, that is what motivates me to do this."
What's that feeling you get from being on the water?
"I love the flow state, just your mind, you just forget everything and you're just in the zone and riding and enjoying the moment, the energy sources that you're tapping into of the wave energy, of the wind, it is pretty epic! When I am foiling it is amazing to just be able to get out in places closer to home."
Is pump foiling harder than foiling with a wing?
"I think like a lot of these sports you need to know the fundamentals, there is a crossover to make, if you come from kite foiling or wing foiling, fundamentally it's the same thing, when you're surf foiling, like once you get the prone to pop up, it is the same thing as normal foiling, so there's a whole lot of these different aspects that once you learn the fundamentals foiling technique, to get into the next level, but then once you get into it you're getting a similar feeling, but just in a different way. Pump foiling is great for cardio, the technique of jumping off the dock and getting that timing right, you're getting the same feeling of gliding through the water and then you're getting fitness, a lot of guys can do it super close to home and go for a pump when there's no good wind conditions, but still get some exercise."
Why pump foiling?
"I like the fact it has a fitness factor, the ability to get out there and get some exercise if the conditions are flat, there's no wind you are still on the water and it is a very social atmosphere, you get a few mates together and you're just going down and then have a few beers after."
Pump foiling who is it for and do they need prior foiling experience would you say?
"I think to pump you definitely need some sort of foiling experience and know how this world works. I remember the first time I tried to foil, it was actually a bungee, four guys pulling back this bungee cord and then I had to accelerate to get up at the time, once you learn the fundamentals behind it you suddenly get it and you know the feeling, it becomes a lot easier."
How did you get into pump foiling?
"A few guys started doing it and then we were just like so why don't we try it, there's nothing else we can do today and let's just see and it kept us busy and we got some exercise, then we kept doing it out on the water, when you have got the toys it's pretty cool to be able to use them in multiple areas!"
What's one of your most memorable places to get out on the water?
"Some of the swells we had at home, just South of Auckland, it was pumping 10 foot every 20 seconds, you could rip the waves, you were in survival mode as you were seconds from getting mowed down, so your mind is having to fully focus on how can I figure this out!"
Where is your favourite place to be on the water would you say?
"Anywhere that's warm, Hood river is one of my favourite it is kind of like a skate park, just little waves, they don't really break so you can just rip turns on them, I love getting into that very cool flow state. The thing about foiling is there are so many places, every place offers a different opportunity and you just take it, you just start to explore and be like OK this is what this offers you gotta take up that opportunity."
If you were to give someone five top tips for foiling what would they be?
"FIRST, Get started, SECOND put in the time, it's one of those sports that if you're able to get a week solid or a couple of weeks solid of pushing it and getting to the next level it's going to vastly improve your foiling and then doing the different disciplines if your wing foiling try prone foiling, try pump foiling. THIRD learn something new engage the knowledge of the other disciplines, so you are gaining that whole well-rounded foiling knowledge. FOURTH, Explore, as many spots around the world as you can, when we get to explore we find more spots and FIVE, having fun, join in with you mates, the more people will you do it with, that's the cool thing about foiling is it's a very social, it is like that when we prone, five guys getting up on the same swell and pumping out, that is the difference between pump and surfing, the surf you were all fighting for a critical section, where with pump foiling you just need to power the wave so you'll get up on a section, so that's wonderful."
Did you have a dream to do something like this when you were smaller, did you ever think that this would be your job in the future?
"I had no idea at school I was very sport focused at school and that was a big priority for me and growing up it was always that aspiration to be good at as many sports as I could and be able to pick them up and just be like sweet. I'm stoked that foiling is giving me a whole lot more sports that you can just crossover and have fun, once you have the equipment it is all so transferable between the different disciplines.
What has it been like being with the OTC team?
"I was only with the team for a short time and we have clocked hundreds of miles, we've gone to the Isle of Wight, we've gone down in Cornwall been down to Exmouth, we just had some sessions all over the place. It's been really cool, cool to see all the local scenes here and the boys know how to rip it up as well, so it's been pretty awesome to get out on a few sessions with them and I'm looking forward to the next time I come up here when it's a bit warmer."
If Aidan could pick just one piece of Armstrong kit, what would it be?
Feeling inspired? You can browse everything Armstrong at SurfDoctor, click on the link..https://www.surfdoctor.com/search/armstrong/ and discover for yourself the unparalleled uniqueness of Armstrong Foils! Strength, Stability and Control!