Name: Rio Blue
Nationality: Born and raised in Maui, Hawaii
Home spot: North Shore Maui
Role Model: Dad (Alf Imperato)
I wing foil since: Early Summer 2020
Thank you for your time to share your stoke in this WINGFOILDAILY Rider of the Week Interview. We are super stoked to have you here and ask you a few questions about your relationship with wing foiling.
Can you describe your love of Wing Foiling in one sentence?
I love wing-foiling because of the effortless freedom and peace, while having the ability to race, catch bomber waves, jump high, and glide through the mesmerising scenery that Maui has to offer.
What is your background?
I have run competitively since I was six years old and absolutely love it! I have raced multiple half marathons and love racing the 400m in track. I played volleyball for six years and have competed in off-island tournaments. Overall, I love everything athletic and always chose to challenge myself.
What made you decide to start Wing Foiling?
I began wing-foiling because I had a running injury and used that as an excuse to begin something new. The reason I chose foiling over everything else is because it is a new sport and I have been so stoked to be a part of the beginning of something new. Lastly, my dad (Alf Imperato) is a windsurfer who always told me the most exciting stories of sailing as a child and I looked forward to making my own memories to pass on.
Where and when did you have your first experiences?
My first experience was foiling in Kahului Harbor because of the calm water and protected environment. The first time I got up on the foil was on the second day of shlogging back and forth from the beach to a selected buoy and taking turns with my dad who would constantly give me advice for the next run.
Is there a moment or experience on the water that you will never forget?
Absolutely! One moment that I will never forget happened winging between Maui and Moloka`i with my dad and Keith Baxter on our second trip across the Kalohi and Pailolo channel. I was finally comfortable doing my first downwinder and racing my dad when I was riding toeside, flagging the wing, sliding down a massive swell, and facing the wild Pacific Ocean. I was in a truly powerful environment and at the mercy of nature and its beauty.
What are your goals in 2022 with wing foiling?
In 2022 with wing-foiling, my goal is to introduce more people into the sport and be a role model in the community for fun, freedom, and determination. On a more personal level, I want to ride bigger waves and take a foiling trip around the world to all of the famous windy places with a group of friends. I really just want to travel and share my joy for the ocean with others!
Can you describe the feeling of being on a foil? What makes this sport so unique and special for you?
This sport is so unique because of three reasons. Primarily, the sail or wing has no connections to the rider besides a small wrist-leash. This gives a much more personal level of control and customization that other wind sports do not offer. Secondly, because of the foil, the rider is elevated which allows for a distinct view of the water. Lastly, the foil allows for smooth, effortless carving and a feeling like hovering with essentially no contact to the water. The rider is truly one with the wind and has the freedom to fly.
This sport is so new and developing very fast – what are your wishes to the industry? Where is potential to develop the wing foiling gear?
Foils will constantly be changed in order to better individually suit specialties such as speed, wave riding, and freestyle. I have seen so many developments in boards and foils throughout the last year and I expect so much more in the future and I wish I knew what the change will be!
Action pics with Naish team rider Rio Blue
Your favourite move?
I love using waves as ramps to jump, but I love going fast and racing.
Your favourite wing foil spots?
I love downwinders because of the potential to find a new path through the ocean, but I frequently foil at Ka’a point, Kuau, and a couple more secret spots around our beautiful island.
How popular is wing foiling at your home spot? Are you the only rider or is the community growing?
Our winging community out here is huge! I probably have more friends over the age of 40 because of foiling, than people my age! Everybody is so kind and encouraging because we all learned together about a year and a half ago and have grown together and celebrated everybody’s accomplishments!
Where do you see wing foiling in 5 years from now?
This is a tough question. As far as competitions, there will be slalom racing, drag racing, wave riding, freestyle, and big air contests. Gear has continued to progress so I am sure that what everybody is riding now will be out-dated.
What´s your most used gear set?
As I am sponsored by Naish, I ride the 20 litre Kite Hover Crossover board, a 60cm kitefoil from 2019 that I absolutely love, and a 3.6 meter wing. This setup is dreamy from 18 to 35+ knots of wind.
Thank you for the Interview!
Brought to you by Rio Blue & WINGFOILDAILY – Pictures by Brian Solano
Rio Blue on: