A few years ago, kite foiling was a new trend and a variation from kiteboarding on a regular board. Today it became a full sport itself and there are plenty of different ways and pulls that make you able to have fun on the water with a foil! Pulled by a kite, the foil changed the light wind game! you don’t need much wind to already feel the flying sensation it provides!
First things first, before you get started, you should know that kite foiling requires a minimum of control in kiteboarding, we advise you to have an intermediate level on a twin-tip or directional board before trying to foil! Without any skills, you probably will get frustrated and on both, kiteboarding and foiling so think about doing things step by step to have the best experience you are looking for!
The basics before you start foiling
For the newbies, we strongly recommend you to go have your first session behind a boat or pulled by a winch in 2+ meters deep water. this will help you to get familiar with the foil without having to think about the ground, the traction, or other hazards that may take your focus away from the foil.
To make your life easier and have a better experience, If you do not have access to a boat or a winch, there are a few precautions you will want to think about when starting foiling:
- Find a spot that is not too crowded with deep water from the start.
- Start with minimum 15 knots of wind, if you can, try to be slightly underpowered.
- Use the longest lines you have ( the longer you kite lines are, the steadier your pull will be ).
- Always be careful of other people swimming, surfing, kiting around you. a foil is a heavy board and can easily damage other people and animals!
- Protect yourself and wear a helmet and a vest in the beginning.
A mistake that people often make, is pushing on the back leg to try to lift the foil but in reality, the flatter the boards are by actually pushing a little bit on the front leg, the more speed you will generate and the foil will lift by itself.
How to chose your first kite foil as a beginner
When learning how to hydrofoil, size matters. The bigger boards are easier to handle when doing the water start. So you want to choose wisely and go for a bigger board in the beginning. You’ll be able to ride much more stable before lifting the board out of the water. Furthermore, having the ability to put straps on the board greatly enhances your ability to learn kite foiling. Straps give you extra stability on the board. Later on, many advanced riders go strapless and on smaller, thinner boards.
Boards built for foiling are often a mix of fiberglass and carbon fiber or simply an all-carbon shell with foam core. They use volume differently and will typically have bottom contours designed to easily release from the surface.
The size of the mast is probably the most important factor in choosing the right setup, especially for beginners. There is a lot of variation in the length of the mast which has a strong impact on the riding!
A longer mast tends to be more unstable and you’ll need to have more balance and control to ride it properly, therefore they are not suitable for beginners. A short mast tends to be more stable so go for the short mast setup when learning to foil on flat water. In choppy ocean conditions, it is better to go for medium size length ( around 65 cm or 26” ), as the chop could hit your board and affect the riding.
In a few words, We advise learning foil in flat water conditions with a short mast but if you go in a choppy ocean pick a medium size mast.
As shown in the picture, the difference in height and weight is great and therefore, does have a huge impact on a beginner’s progression. The short mast will make it easy to get on the board right away. As it is shorter, you will feel the difference and be forgiven for the mistakes you are likely to make, and in case of a crash, it won’t be that bad. The medium size masts are more suitable for intermediate moves as you progress. Finally, the long mast is meant for further progression and proper riding.
The mast length also impacts pitch and roll stability. A longer mast will also keep the foil submerged at steeper angles of pitch found on larger waves. In short, bigger conditions require longer masts. Adding length not only makes the mast more flexible but also amplifies sensitivity to the rider’s movements. Both of these characteristics make longer masts more difficult to ride. In contrast, shorter masts are lighter, stiffer, and more stable.
You’ll find the wings at the bottom of your mast and this contraption stays submerged while riding. It provides the lift and stability for your board to get out of the water, giving you the ability to glide without sinking. In general, a smaller wing will work better at high speeds because it will give the board a lot more agility. However, when learning to foil, it’s better to start with a big wing.
The surface area of a wing is a good indication of how much lift it will generate. The larger the surface area, the more lift is generated. The best foil for beginners often uses a large front wing because it will lift rider at lower speeds and provide more stability. Its surface area is commonly measured in square centimeters.
Wings with a thicker profile create more lift at lower speeds and are more forgiving to small changes in the angle of attack. Foils designed for higher speeds have much thinner profiles. You have better control, but you ll lose the lift when going slower. They usually take more skill to ride.
Another aspect to look for is the wing’s extremity. It is better if the ends are rounded. This is not really related to the performance of a beginner, but rather, the safety of the rider and the other people around. As you may already know, there is a high risk of hitting the foil while practicing. Although it may happen to anyone, it is more likely to occur to beginners who obviously have less control. Rounded extremities will reduce the risks of injuries when hitting your foil.
Which kite size to ride depends mostly on whether you are learning or already progressing into advanced riding and obviously the wind strength. For your first sessions, it is much easier to have a bit more power to have the kite pulling you enough to lift the foils at all times. The goal is to have the appropriate size of kite that allows you to park the kite in the wind window without having to think about it too much so you can focus on your board and not the kite. This will help you understand the board game much faster. Some say the best wind is around 20 knots but it doesn’t mean other wind strenght aren’t good to start foiling, it is hard to claim what kite size in what wind is the best as every person weights differently and the spot may vary as well. The idea is to have the appropriate size of kite that allows you to park the kite while dealing with the board. If you rig too small you will have to fly the kite aggressively and this will take much needed attention away from mastering the basics of foilboard control. When you master the sport, at the very least, you need enough power to relaunch if you drop your kite and the ability to get back to the beach with or without a board, this is more for those who master the sport already.
In a few words, to learn it is better to be a bit overpowered but only to learn how to control and master the board and foil. Once you have a good enough level, the beauty of foiling is that it doesn’t require much wind to have fun on the water. Only a few knots and some skills will make you able to keep the kite in the air and even generate more speed using the swell, pumping,…
Here are some kites we recommend you to get if you are looking to start foiling:
The composition of a foil:
- Mounting plate: It is simply there to attach the foil to the board with several screws.
- Mast: The mast connects the board to the fuselage and supports the board and rider.
- Front wings: Front wings need to be lightweight and durable. So carbon fiber with foam core or slurry core is commonly used. G-10 composite was used for front wings on some of the early current generation foils but is not generally used today because of weight.
- Stabilisers: Stabilisers are much smaller than front wings so weight is less of an issue. However, its connection point with the fuselage experiences high stress so it must be strong. Solid carbon fiber is commonly used, however, G-10 composite is also a good option.
- Fuselage: The fuselage connects the front wing, mast, and rear wing. It needs to be durable and capable of making solid connections. The fuselage length impacts pitch and yaw stability. A longer fuselage will be more stable in pitch and yaw, making pumping more efficient because each pump is longer and more stable. However, a longer fuselage will also add weight and increase the turning radius which decreases overall manoeuvrability. With a shorter fuselage turns become tighter and more efficient with the trade of requiring more energy to pump and to maintain balance.
Foils are ridden in fresh and saltwater so it is important they can withstand both conditions. Carbon fiber is preferred for its corrosion resistance and high strength to weight ratio. Titanium is frequently used because it is strong, corrosion-resistant, and can be shaped precisely. Aluminum is also common because it is lightweight and less expensive than titanium. However, aluminum is not as strong as titanium and if precautions are not taken aluminum will corrode in saltwater. Some manufacturers use G-10 composite because it can be less expensive, strong, and corrosion-resistant, but it is much heavier than the other materials.
- Hydrofoiling is not only for kiteboarders, here are a couple of ways to ride a foil:
There are a few different ways to ride a foil: you can foil the swell, getting pulled by a boat, cable, winch,… Basically, whatever provides you speed will lift the foil up in the air! Even just by pumping on the right set up, you will manage to get enough speed and make it work! ( this requires a little bit more speed ).
Lets quickly go through the different foil variations:
- Surf foil: Using the swell to generate speed and surf the waves with a foil.
Somewhere in the pacific on a North Scoop foil
- Wake foil: You can use a rope to pull you and generate speed ( boat, winch, cable, horse, car, whatever your creativity comes to mind! )
- Windsurf foil: Foiling with a windsurf, using the wind to get the speed like the kite foil.
- Sup foil: Foiling on a Stand-up paddle board can be very fun on flat water or even surfing the waves.
Enjoying an F-one SUP foil board
The best foil size depends on the size and skill of the rider, and the conditions it will be used in. Heavier riders will need a larger wing to lift them out of the water. Beginners will also find a larger wing easier to learn on because they will be slower and more stable. Lighter riders need the wing to generate less lift so a smaller wing should be used. More advanced riders will find smaller wings more manoeuvrable and controllable in larger faster conditions. This is because they create the required amount of lift at higher speeds, but not too much to lose control ability. Generally, a shorter fuselage length is preferred because they are more manoeuvrable. In smaller conditions, a short mast is almost always preferred. It is lighter and more stable. However, a longer mast will increase manoeuvrability even in smaller conditions. In larger conditions, a larger mast is practically required. Steeper take-offs and cutting through larger chop can only be done on longer mast lengths.
If you would like more information about foiling you are welcome to contact us by email or come by the shop! Our foil experts will be more than happy to help you with your questions and direct you in the right direction for you to have the best experience with a foil under your feet! We are looking forward to seeing you on the water!
Here are some amazing packs at a good price for you:
The Billykite team.