I have officially jumped on the foiling craze this year. I did this mostly for two reasons: 1. I had to find out what it’s all about and 2. I dreamed up the idea about 3 years ago of flying on a wave with a Sup/Foil. I always wanted to fly along the wave just like the pelicans do and with a Sup/foil I think it’s possible to achieve that same feeling. Since I came up with idea three years ago, other people with unlimited time and funds (the Kai Lenny and such) have achieved riding a wave on a Sup/foil, so now I know that it’s definitely possible and that is my ultimate goal in foiling. I want to fly on a wave with nothing in my hands but a paddle.
I started off last winter on a kite foil scoring about a half dozen sessions on an LF foil fish. It’s definitely not easy learning to foil on a kite. You spend a lot of time in the water getting dragged around. Of course learning in flat water would make it easier, but that is never an option on Da reef. Ultimately I got the hang of it without killing myself, but I highly recommend wearing helmets and PFD’s as I had many close calls to death. There were many crashes where I popped up from the water to see the foil board coming at me like a mid-evil flying axe trying to cut my head off. I also received countless gut and rib shots falling into the foil. That’s learning though. No pain no gain. I also figured out that kite foiling needs a specific kite to really make it easier. You want a kite with a lot of constant power and a slow and steady pull (AKA not wave kites…which of course is all I have). It took a while but I finally got some good rides; enough to know I was ready to take the next step in my quest. Time to find a Windsurf/Sup foil!
As usual I did a ton of research and inquiring. All of that lead me to a foil manufacturer in North America called LP Foils. It turns out that there are two masterminds behind LP Foils; one is an aeronautical designer and the other is a composites expert. What a perfect match to make the best foils in the world! My experience with them has been all positive. I talked to Peter at LP foils and he answered all of my zillion questions and gave me lots of great advice. So I decided to go with a LP foil for a few reasons: 1) They got great reviews from everyone I talked to 2) They seem to be experts and very knowledgeable in the foiling category 3) If I need any parts or questions they are just a phone call away with great customer service. 4) They are North American Made (No China throw away crap) and 5) Price and availability are very competitive in the foil market. The end result was I got a foil from them that fits my needs perfectly, which will be a Windsurf and a SUP foil. When I got the foil in my hands (which didn’t take very long at all) I was very impressed. The build quality is very high end. All of it is built with super light high-quality carbon fiber which fits together like a glove, with lots of innovation built in. It really looks like a work of art all put together. It’s very impressive! So if any of you Reef Warriors out there are wanting to get into some foiling I highly recommend looking into LP foils. http://www.lpfoils.com/
Now that I got my new foil I needed to get it wet and try windsurf foiling. I pirated Chicken Bob’s (aka Cam’s) Reef Warrior board, which has a deep Tuttle fin box that is required to mount the foil. I rigged a 5.7 and hit the water. It took a little awhile to find the balance point but once I did, it was pretty neat to get that whole rig out of the water and flying above the water. I found that the learning curve on a Windsurf foil is ten times easier than a kite foil and the crashes are way less violent. There are a couple reasons for that. One reason is that the power(from the sail) is so direct it’s easier to balance on the board when on a foil. The second reason is that it’s easy to go up and down with the foil on the windsurfing board. Even if you foil too high and lose lift, the board just does an easy nose down and you hardly lose any speed. You’re just sailing along going up and down until you can find that perfect balance point resulting in very few crashes. On day one I got some long foil rides and even rode a couple waves with it which was very very cool. Now after a few sessions I have gotten the hang of it pretty well. As with the kite foiling, I think windsurf foiling is going to need specific board/sail equipment to make it easier. Most likely about a 120L wide tail board with the fin box mounted more forward and a sail with a very deep rearward draft; again trying to achieve a constant powerful pull. Even though I have gotten the hang of windsurf foiling very quickly, I have not felt very comfortable on my current board/sail set-up and have some tuning to do.
So the most asked question I get is “What is foiling like?” Well I am sure you will get a lot of different answers from different people who do it, but for me its feels exactly like flying. If you have ever flown a plane before it has some of the same traits. You get some speed which creates lift and then trim up/down for desired height and just like that, you are literally flying above the water. It’s a very cool feeling to be gliding above the water at a fast rate of speed and everything goes completely silent. There’s no board noise, no splashing water, nothing but quiet. The ride itself can’t get any smoother. It’s like you’re riding on a cloud. Foiling definitely has an appeal to it. For some it will be very addictive and for others it will be “take it or leave it”. I know my main interest all along since I started foiling, is trying to catch some waves with it on an SUP and now I think I am ready for that next challenge. Bring it on!