Once you are up and riding on the twin tip and enjoying developing some new tricks you might get disappointed when you don’t have quite enough wind for riding on those light wind days. At your kite spot you may notice there are some riders who can go out when there is just a breath of wind holding their kite in the sky. They have foil boards and are flying across the water surface at incredible speeds.
If you are thinking of getting in to foil boarding know that it will allow you to ride in wind as little at 10 mph as long as it is steady.
*low aspect (left) to high aspect (right)
For your first board be sure to select one with a wider disc shaped front wing; i.e. lower aspect ratio. You will eventually grow out of it and want to have the wing that will drive the board further upwind and allow you to ride faster. But the low aspect wing is stable in the water and less affected by weight distribution changes on the board surface as you are learning.
The shape of the actual board is not so important, just the shape of the wing.
When choosing an area to ride, you will ideally kite in an area with a water depth of at least 5 feet or get a short mast option. The short mast option is great for learning because it allows you to experience the feeling of being up on the foil with out the consequences of falling from a 5 foot height. When you are first learning you will be “porpoising” which is when you alternate between foiling and slamming down onto the water. Up and down like a porpoise jumping over and over. You want to have plenty of room for error with the water depth as you can quickly ruin your gear by slamming the foil into the ground.
When you are doing your water start position the board on it’s side in the water with your feet in the foot straps and the board directly underneath the kite. Dive the kite and roll over-top of the boarding directing the board downwind. I would recommend starting off at a beam reach with the foil completely underwater and feeling what it is like to have all that equipment underneath you. You can keep the foil underwater by placing weight on your front foot. If you feel the board start to rise up onto foil then place more weight onto your front foot. Once you are comfortable riding with the foil below you and the board level with the water surface start to distribute more weight to your back foot. This will in effect cause the board to “go up on foil” .
If the board rises onto foil too quickly bring more weight to the front of the board to keep it from popping out and causing you to porpoise. When you are wanting to turn around in the other direction bring the kite to 12, sheet out to slow down and sit back into the water. Shift your feet to the opposite tack while and do another waterstart in the opposite direction.
You will find that one direction is more comfortable than the other. This is normal.
I will cover foiling transitions, riding topside, and jumping in future articles.