For most surfers, surfing means getting up early, scouring weather reports to find the best wave, and waiting for the perfect conditions, and then catching a wave. What if we told you that you could surf even when the conditions aren’t ideal. Intrigued? If you’ve never heard of “foil surfing” then you aren’t alone. Even many surfing aficionados have never heard of this twist on surfing, let alone tried it! It has actually existed for quite some time. Here’s everything you need to know before you try it for yourself, and how to choose the right hydrofoil board for you!
How Does A Hydrofoil Work?
Before jumping in, let’s explore what a hydrofoil is, and how it works! Foil surfing, a hybrid of traditional surfing and hydrofoil technology, replaces the traditional fin at the bottom of your surfboard with a much longer, hydrodynamic designed fin better known as a blade. This blade is longer than the fin on average surfboards, and has wings at its base.
When the surfboard moves through the water, the wings on the blade lift the board out of the water, where you will literally glide above the surface of the water! Pretty rad huh? The blade allows foil surfers to perform tighter turns due to the small surface area that comes in contact with the water.
The amazing thing about foil boards is that as a rider, you are able to harness more of the ocean’s energy than regular surfboards, and you won’t lose as much energy to friction as you would with a board that is in contact with the water. You can literally pump the board up and down to generate more energy!
What’s the Appeal?
You might be thinking that hydrofoil surfing sounds cool and all, but why spend the extra money when you are a surfing purist? Well, if the novelty of gliding over the water and feeling like you are flying doesn’t sell you on hydrofoil surfing, the lure of being able to surf previously unsurfable spots just might!
The same airplane-like technology that allows the board to lift out of the water also means that it can easily gather momentum from whitewater if the surfer is surfing in small surf, or even no surf at all! Also, after riding a wave, it’s possible to turn around and ride the board away from the beach instead of needing to paddle out and duck dive to get to the lineup.
The best part about foil surfing is that it can be done almost anywhere. Foil surfers can avoid crowded lineups and make the most of whatever surf the ocean is offering elsewhere.
We warned though, hydrofoil surfing is not the faint of heart, and is actually a lot harder than it looks! Compared to a traditional surfboard, a hydrofoil board requires an extreme level of balance, skill, and fitness to keep the board gliding on top of the water.
Safety Tip: The fin of a hydrofoil board is massive and made of metal as opposed to fiberglass in traditional surfboards. This combination, plus forward momentum transforms this fin into a highly dangerous “blade”— one that’s quite capable of inflicting serious injury.
How to Choose the Right Hydrofoil Board
Most design features of hydrofoil boards have pros and cons, and a foil that works great for a professional surfer might not be the best board for a beginner. So to start out, let’s take a look at the different aspects of a foil board.
Things to take into account when buying a hydrofoil board:
1. Size of the Mast
Choose a hydrofoil board that has different mast heights. The first mast makes it easy to get on the bard right away, even as a beginner. This first mast is a great place to begin as it is more forgiving when you crash. The second and third masts are more suitable for those intermediate riders, and the fourth mast can further your progression even more!
2. The Wing’s Extremity
It is better if the ends of the wings are rounded. This isn’t necessarily related to the performance of the wing, but rather the safety of the rider and other people in the water. Rounded wings help prevent injuries when you hit your foil. ( Which might happen as you get better at riding!)
3. Board Characteristics
The size of a hydrofoil board is just as important as a traditional surfboard, even though it never touches the water. Make sure that your board is big enough so that you can easily “water start,” which also enables you to keep the board brushing the surface. When first learning hydrofoil surfing, it is recommended that you have a board with food straps, but have the option to take them off later on when you become a more advanced rider.
4. The Foil’s Aspect Ratio
While learning to ride a hydrofoil you will want to ride a board with a lower aspect ratio, which is more stable at lower speeds, so it is easier to learn, and you can progress more quickly.
Let’s be honest, price always matters, and hydrofoils can be very expensive. So buy a board that suits your ability and price range. Or lease-to-own through 3 Rad Kids!
Check out our amazing selection of Hydrofoil blades and boards! Apply for our easy lease-to-own program, and get out in the water today! 3 Rad Kids gives you the ability to order adventure sports equipment that might be slightly out of your price range. We do this by offering a lease-to-own program that allows you to get the brand new gear that you’ve always wanted at an affordable weekly payment instead of paying in full.
image courtesy of surfline.com