Foiled! Tiverton fund-raiser brings in $1,500 for alzheimer's research

Whit Collier rides wingfoil from Fogland to Sakonnet Point

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If you happened to look out to the Sakonnet River between Fogland and Sakonnet Point last Wednesday, and spotted a strange-looking inflatable sail attached to a stubby elevated surfboard, with a wetsuit-clad man hanging on a few feet above the water, that was just Whit Collier trying to help find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease.

Mr. Collier, 45, of Wellesley, Mass., rides a wingfoil, a hybrid watercraft that combines elements of windsurfing, kitesurfing and hydrofoiling.

He set out from Fogland just after noon Wednesday with hopes of sailing into the wind all the way to Sakonnet Point, and then back downwind to Fogland. But due to rough conditions, it took him the better part of the afternoon to complete the first leg. When he reached Sakonnet Point, he decided to call it quits for the day.

Still, his effort through gofundme.com has so far raised nearly $2,500 for the Cure Alzheimer's Fund, a charity near and dear to him as the disease claimed the life of his father Charlie three years ago.

Mr. Collier's father started windsurfing in the 1980s and introduced his son to water sports, which the two enjoyed together for many years.

"He was a great mentor to me and a coach at a lot of levels," he said of his father, who died of the disease in 2018.

Windfoiling has been compared to "riding a unicycle atop a bucking bronco," he said, and Mr. Collier's trip, about seven miles as the crow flies, actually ended up being more than 20 miles as he tacked back and forth into the wind on his way to the point.

"My intention was to be able to sail all the way back," he said. "I probably could have done it but I was a little nervous about getting caught out there. I was pretty exhausted."

He hopes to give it another try in the fall.

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