When foiling arrived on the scene there was very little windsurf foil gear available and many of the boards at the time weren’t strong enough to take a foil. So, much of the windsurfing world went after any Formula board they could get their hands on to plug their Foil in to. During this time most of the brands were developing their first or early second generation foil gear with the view to making foiling easily accessible for everyone.
In recent years, windsurf foil equipment has become very user friendly with much of the gear having an ‘easy to ride’ focus. The real ‘stoke’ of being on the foil is the sensation of floating above the water. Sure, going fast is an added bonus but it’s the sensation of carving on small swells and exploring your area with ease that’s the new excitement that different from conventional windsurfing.
At Fluid Lines we have had highs, lows and a lot of break throughs in our own riding and technique… and we’re still definitely learning! Through this journey we have experimented with a whole host of foiling equipment from different brands. We feel we have developed a good hold on what really makes windsurf foiling exciting and very different to our normal days on the water.
In terms of the equipment we would undoubtedly say that having a specific foil board will make the learning process significantly easier than a freeride board with a foil ready box. The shapes are specific because they encourage super early lift, a wide stable platform to encourage early speed on the water to enable the foil to lift early. All the boards have relatively sharp rails up the length of the board so enable to the board to skip back up onto the foil when water contact is made. The boards are generally more compact, shorter in length, making the board far more controllable in all directions.
There are lots of great options from a number of brands however we have shortlisted some of the key models that we have been using and have proven to work for us…
If you would like to hear our take on what board suits the given spot, rider or technique then get in touch and we’ll happily point you in the correct direction.
Most of the key brands have been producing freeride boards that are ‘Foil Ready’ in the past few years. This means that you can use your freeride board with a conventional freeride fin and have a blast as you always would have…. But now you can buy a foil and plug it in and give it a go! These boards typically have the standard design features of a ‘normal’ freeride board and so you would not get the benefits of the foil specific boards we talked about above. However, this is a great starting place to give it a try and feel the foiling ‘stoke’! If you already have a foil ready freeride board then all you need is a foil… these start at around £750 and so is a way of giving foiling a go on a budget without the full commitment of buying a full set up.
Foils can be a bit of mine field due to the number of different variations of wings, masts, fuselages etc. We break it down to hopefully make it easier to understand!
All boards, whether foil ready or foil specific have a tuttle box head or a track in which the foil attaches into.
THE MAST: Masts can vary in length – typically between 75cm – 105cm. We think that the ideal size mast for a first timer would lie between an 70cm – 90cm mast. A shorter mast is likely to make the learning process a little easier! As you progress you may want a mast that is a little longer so that you can sit higher above the water and clear all chop etc.
THE WINGS: There are TONNES of different options out there, however to keep it simple when learning/in light wind it is common to have a front wing with a larger surface area, which allows you to start foiling at a lower speed. Also, in terms of moving forward with your foiling, having a larger front wing will allow you to have more stability and will help you keep foiling in more high end windsurf manoeuvres such as a foiling carve gybe. Weight certainly has a bearing on the choice of front wing size; a heavier rider will likely want a wing with a greater surface area to allow them to get out of the water and onto the foil and vice versa for a lighter weight rider.
Some of the brands now have a modular system to make it a cheaper experience! For example… you could learn on a Fanatic Flow Flow foil with a 1250cm front wing and also use for light wind days as you progress. As you improve you may want a smaller front wing to foil in higher winds and go a little faster… at this point you can simply go for a Fanatic Flow 900cm front wing, compatible with your other Fanatic Flow components.
THE FUSELAGE: Generally a longer fuselage provides greater stability and hence a less ‘twitchy’ ride.
CARBON OR Composite? Carbon foils are significantly lighter than composite foils, however are significantly more expensive – pretty standard! So clearly it is worth considering both options! Carbon foils provide a higher performance and a better feeling to the sailer. Composite foils are heavier and slower but are stronger (important if you anticipate yourself hitting the beach or sandbank).
There are a range of foil sails that are now available from a number of brands. The foil sails that are most relevant to us as are freeride foil sails. Freeride foil sails are lightweight, often have fewer battens for the given sail size and may have a dual cam set up. They generally have reduced luff curve and loose leach, and a larger foot surface. These features help you pump the sail more easily, to get up on the foil earlier and maintain power in the sail. The lightweight feel is dramatically different to a standard freeride or wave sail.
Check out some of the following videos from Fanatic:
Thanks, The Fluid Lines Team
Fluid Lines are an independent, family run snow and water sports shop based in Colchester, Essex