The wing or the foil under the board is what really matters. The board itself plays a minor role, especially at the beginning. The board is actually only a medium to get thrust so that you can take off. For steering and standing you don’t really need a big board, just to get out of the water. Most important is the size of the front wing. Most brands measure this in square centimeters. Especially important is the relation between the wing span and the width of the wing. This ratio is called aspect ratio. This is where science begins: you almost have to be an aeronautics expert to have a say in this. But the basic rules are easier to understand than you might think. After all, you are standing on an airplane and everybody knows the difference between a jumbo jet, a glider and a fighter jet.
The higher the payload, in this case the weight of the pilot, the larger the wing must be.
The larger the wing with a smaller load, the better the wing glides through the water.
The larger the span of the wing, the better the gliding properties (“lift”)
The next step is of course the profile and the shape of the wing. You could also say a lot about the flex of the wing. Also the length of the fuselage, i.e. the distance between the front wing and the back wing, comes into play. Here you can also adjust the angle of the wings. As in an airplane many different parts can be adjusted and exchanged individually.
The distance between the fuselager and the board is of course the length of the mast. Finally, there is the position in which you have mounted the whole setup on the board. Is the mast mounted further to the front or the back of the board?
Here is valid: If the mast is further forward and you put your foot behind the mast, then you push the board upwards and thus also the foil. Then the thing wants to take off immediately. So this is not a good idea. It’s better to place the mast all the way back so that you don’t step the board up all the time.
On bigger waves, where you are faster on the water, the mast is moved forward, the pros place themselves in front of the mast. Because at higher speeds you have to shift more weight forward to counteract the wing (lift) better. There are many of forces acting in all sorts of directions and you can trim and adjust them all individually.
If you got almost dizzy while reading this part, don’t worry, it doesn’t matter much at first. Just try it out and learn how to handle the foil. But it’s worth it to be introduced to the topic by someone who has an idea or to watch videos on the internet.
> Foiling in short
Why foiling: Because it is simply an incredible feeling to float above the water. It is the next step in the sport you already know how to do. You get into the water when it would otherwise be boring.
Learn to foil: If you have no previous knowledge of a board sport, you should keep your hands off the foil. First master the equipment, then screw a foil under it.
Where to learn to foil: Best at spots where you are alone in the water and do not endanger anyone. Even better is to let yourself be pulled by a boat so that you develop a feeling for flying.
Buy a foil: Bring a lot of money. A second-hand market is currently being developed. Get advice from a foil nerd. Read a lot about the topic. It is very easy to buy something wrong.
Dangers: Enormous risk of addiction. Risk of injury due to the sharp edges of the wings. Wear protective clothing in the beginning.
Possible foil spots: Once you master the pump and the start, you can foil practically in any body of water and in super small waves.
Wakefoil: You can get towed behind a boat and foil in the wake.
Wakeboard park: Excellent practice. You can get towed, the the rope go and see how far you can pump.
Downwinder: Downwind foiling is hard but when you can get on flight you will have a blast.
Flatpater Pumping: The pros showed us: Start directly from the footbridge and pump until your thighs burn, that works. With the development of the material this will certainly become even easier in the future. You can also have a colleague briefly tighten you with a rope at the footbridge.
Foiling industry : At the moment you can buy SUP boards extremely cheap on Maui. Nobody wants to surf SUP anymore, everybody just wants to foil. Foil fever has put a damper on SUP surfing and downwinding here in Hawaii. Especially at downwind races the number of foils increases very much. The boom is in full swing.
We are currently in an experimental phase. Many of the young, good foilers are getting better and better very quickly and give their feedback to the manufacturers on an ongoing basis. With the improvement of the pros the material changes very fast.
Foil races and surf contests: Just because the topic is hot right now doesn’t mean that we will soon only see foil races or even foilsurf contests. The number of people who are very good at foiling is still very small. But: Foil classes are an essential part of SUP downwind races. Should there ever be SUP surfing contests again, I could imagine that foiling will be included. At the APP and the ISA World Championships I hardly think we will see foiling very soon.
SUP foil races are now only possible in a downwind scenario. To learn this is even more difficult than SUP Foilsurfing. But it’s quite possible that if many people get better, we will soon see “Foil-Pump-Races”. So in flat water without waves just jump from the jetty onto the board and push the foil up and down through the water. These are still visions of the future, but they are certainly within the realm of possibility. But let’s not forget Robby Naish’s words why windsurfing became so small. The windsurfing industry has become too technical too fast and has, so to say, left the mainstream. This will definitely not happen foiling, because the sport is so highly technical right from the start, that the entry level is quite different from SUP.
Foiling, on the SUP, in the wave or as a downwinder opens up completely new perspectives and speeds. Experienced board sports enthusiasts should, if they take some time, master the new equipment within a reasonable period of time. The beauty of foiling is that it opens up new spots and conditions where the experienced athlete would be otherwise bored very quickly. I advise everyone not to take foiling lightly. Even if you are the “top guys”. Overconfidence is punished very quickly. Check out the internet and talk to someone who has already done foiling.
Enjoy and have fun!