World Record! Dimitris Apalagakis’ unprecedented 299km wingfoil journey from Athens to Crete

World record! With his Athens to Crete downwind wingfoil crossing, Dimitris Apalagakis has set a new standard for long-distance wingfoil. Dimitris crossed the Aegean Sea in 13h24m04s, for a total of 299.03km. Just wow! Dimitris Apalagakis was born and raised in Crete and has been a windsurfing athlete since the age of nine. Several times Greek Windsurfing Wave Champion and Greek SUP Race Champion, wingfoil has caught his attention since day one. Passionate about this new sport, Dimitris really wanted to achieve something special with it. And he has! More than a personal challenge, this crossing was also an Official Guinness Record Attempt, with a strict framework. From his VAYU gear to his training, via logistics and weather conditions, Dimitris Apalagakis talks to TotalWing about his crossing.

Photo: @s.k_extremeactivity

Hello Dimitris! Wow, an Athens to Crete wingfoil crossing! How did you come up with the idea of embarking on this incredible adventure?

I have always loved windsurfing wave riding & down winding with a SUP. With the wing foil the feeling is special in a different way. You can go for a downwind and ride the waves with a feeling of freedom that no sport can give you!  For this reason and since I love downwinds I decided to do something special with it. The goal was to cover the longest distance and obtain the record of the Greatest Downwind in the World. After discussing it with my wife Lydia and my sponsors VAYU, AXIS & SURFTOYS and seeing everyone’s enthusiasm and support, I decided to do it! The Athens to Crete crossing was the best choice to fit such a downwind.

Photo: @s.k_extremeactivity

How did you prepare and train to do so many kilometers and hours wingfoiling?

I started my preparation back in February which included lot of time in the gym, SUP and running but mostly I spent a lot of time wing-foiling with sessions that would last anywhere from 2 up to 8 hours! I love training, I have been doing it pretty much since I was a kid, so I really enjoyed it and stayed motivated during the whole preparation.

Photo: @s.k_extremeactivity

What weather conditions did you wait for to launch?

 The ideal forecast for this downwind would be 2-3 days of steady 30+knots northerly wind (near to Athens) that would last all the way from Athens to Crete. Finally the forecast was there so I decided to do it! I started my downwind from Lavrio in Athens with 30+knots of wind and strong, clean waves that helped me cover the first 130km very quickly. After this distance (as expected) the conditions became very challenging with big messy waves and lighter air that stayed until I reached Crete.

Photo: @s.k_extremeactivity

How did you organize your logistics and safety?

That was the difficult part as all boats were afraid to accompany me as they thought it would be hard to get back to Athens the next day in these conditions, something that was unfortunately true. Luckily we found the solution with a boat from Crete that would come to Athens by ferry and do only the downwind part with me without having to return. It was an 8m rib boat with a professional captain and a photographer onboard and were both capable of offering me first aid if needed.

Photo: @s.k_extremeactivity

So tell us, how did the crossing go? 

It was an amazing experience!! The funny thing is that I was super relaxed and calm the morning before the downwind as If I wasn’t going to cross the whole Aegean! So I started down winding strong, fast and confident. The conditions became very difficult somewhere in the middle of my route and the course became very technical, I had to face a lot of pain and exhaustion which challenged not only my body but my spirit as well. Thankfully I was in great shape physically & mentally and managed to endure until the end. So here I am holding a World Record of 299.03km on foil in 13:29:04h!!

Photo: @s.k_extremeactivity

How did you manage your eating and drinking during the crossing?

I had with me a backpack in which I had canteens of 2×3 liters, one with water and one with an energy mix (carbohydrates, hectoliters, vitamins, magnesium, etc) and 2 protein bars.

I had to be careful not to run out of fluids, so I only drank a certain portion every 30min. I took two breaks to eat the protein bars, the first around the 6h mark and the second one close to the 10h mark.

Photo: @s.k_extremeactivity

We saw that your crossing was an Official Guinness Record Attempt. We know that Guinness Records often require a strict framework for the record to be validated. Was this the case? What were your obligations?

Yes that is correct! Guiness requires many things and has a lot of obligations that must be met in order to validate and make a record official. First of all I had to do it with only one equipment all the way to Crete (one wing, one board, one foil setup) that would also be available on the market. I also had to do it alone, without any help from the escort boat at any point. For the above they requested photos, videos, readouts and witnesses (the captain & photographer) + video on every crush or break to prove that I didn’t touch the boat at those moments (they compare it with the gps files).

Photo: @s.k_extremeactivity

Tell us about the gear you used for the crossing, and in particular your VAYU board and wing…  

As I said before I had to choose one wing, one board and one foil, but that didn’t bother me as I’m super lucky to have VAYU, AXIS & SURFTOYS brands supporting me with the best equipment on the market! For the wing I chose the new VAYU V3 4.5 wing, as it has great control and responsiveness, it is super light and very strong construction. For the board I chose the new VAYU Fly Carbon 4’8. This board accelerates very fast, allowing the rider to fly early and easy. Also it is light and comfortable. For the foil system I chose the following AXIS parts: ART PRO 1201 Front Wing, SKINNY 365 Rear Wing, Black Advance Ultrashort Fuselage and Power Carbon High Modulus 90cm mast. This setup is just fantastic with amazing glide, great control and speed.

I am super happy with the above choices because the specific wing-foil setup worked great in all conditions in my downwind course from 10 to 30+ knots wind and from small to big waves. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change a screw!!

Photo: @s.k_extremeactivity

Do you have any other crazy projects like this in the pipeline?

Yes of course!!!! I have some ideas!!! Stay tuned

Photo: @s.k_extremeactivity

And finally, what do you have to say to all those who dream of long-distance wing flying like your crossing, but don’t dare take the plunge?

Well I would say: Prepare yourself physically and mentally in the best possible way, choose the best equipment, arrange your safety and GO for it, it is totally worth it!!

Photo: @s.k_extremeactivity

Follow Dimitris Apalagakis:
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More about VAYU :
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About the Author

Laurie Montagner

From SUP Racing to wing foiling, through windsurfing, wakesurfing and surfing, you will always find Laurie somewhere in the South-West of France. Passionate about watersports, Laurie spends her time surfing, whether on the wave... or online! Laurie is indeed a specialist in social media marketing and web development, from writing lines of code to making professional videos. Very much a competitor, you've probably already met her on one of the SUP and wing events all over France!

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