Hydrofoiling : an introduction to foil kitesurfing

Posted on Posted in Kitesurf

We say it all the time, in autumn and spring, Adam’s bridge is the dream location for foiling, yet we still get dazzled eyes asking us what the heck is hydrofoiling. We’re sure you’ve noticed this new generation of kiteboarders flying over the water like Aladdin on his carpet… 

So here’s our little introduction to this amazing kitesurfing discipline. 

 

1. What is hydrofoiling? 

A hydrofoil is a surfboard with a wing attached to a mast underneath the surfboard. When generating speed on the water, the wing has the ability to lift you and your board out of the water. This decreases drag by a huge amount as your board is not touching the water anymore, giving you the sensation of flying over the water. Furthermore, there is no sound! You’ll ride in absolute blissfulness as you’re not affected by the chop of the water anymore. Sounds nice right?

 

2. What are the benefits of hydrofoiling? 

Apart from giving you the ability to fly, hydrofoiling is gaining popularity for other reasons as well. One of the biggest benefits is that you can comfortably ride in light wind conditions. Hydrofoiling does not require a lot of wind which makes it very popular in light wind areas or on light wind days. Furthermore, riding upwind is easy. The foil has a huge upwind ability which is another big benefit of the sport. As mentioned before, foiling makes little to no sound which leads to very peaceful sessions full of zen. 

 

3. What are the setbacks of foil boarding? 

Well, first of all, there is the price. Hydrofoiling is expensive and most boards will set you back around 1500 USD. The technology to make a hydrofoil isn’t cheap and the materials are expensive as well. Furthermore, the learning curve can be steep and for some it’s a hard sport to master. And finally, there is the danger aspect that surrounds kitefoiling. The mast is very sharp which can lead to painful injuries when not protected. So when you want to learn hydrofoiling, it’s advised to wear a helmet, impact or life vest and even shin protectors. We also recommend taking a hydrofoiling lesson.

 

4. Choosing the right hydrofoil setup

 

When you’re ready to buy your own board or have to choose a board at a rental, you are immediately faced with a whole bunch of options.  Here are some basics on how to get the right setup for learning to hydrofoil. 

 

The board 

When learning how to hydrofoil, size matters. You can easily compare it with learning to kitesurf on a twintip. 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 hydrofoiling. Straps give you extra stability on the board. Be careful not to tighten the straps too much as you want to get rid of the board before hitting the water. Loose straps are the way to go!

 

The mast

The size of the mast is probably the most important factor in choosing the right setup for beginners. There is a lot of variation in the length of the mast which affect the ride characteristics a lot. A longer mast tends to be more unstable and you’ll need to have more balance to ride it properly, therefore they are not suitable for beginners. Furthermore, longer masts require deeper waters which is an other no go 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 however, tis best to go for a more medium length ( around 65 cm or 26” ), as the chop could hit your board and affect the riding. We advise learning to foil in flat water conditions with a short mast. 

 

The wing or fin

You’ll find the wing at the bottom of your mast and this contraption stays submerged while riding. It provides the lift and stability for you 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 (55 cm – 23”). You don’t want to be riding to fast in the beginning anyhow. If possible, choose a wing with rounded tips as they are safer to handle. 

The kite

As mentioned before, hydrofoiling can be done in lightwind conditions and because there is little to no drag on the board when riding, you’ll find that smaller kites are enough to ride smoothly, even in light wind conditions. However, when learning how to foil, it’s better to start with a stable kite that doesn’t move to much. therefore, try using the kite you’d normally use when riding a twintip. Once you’ve mastered riding, you’ll want to downsize in order to get more agility. 

 

Foiling seems to be taking the world by storm, and it’s time you learn to fly too! Join us for a hydrofoil lesson this Autumn.