Updated: Apr 7, 2021
The foil or hydrofoil is new and exciting. It brings a different dimension to all water sports. Instead of riding on the water, you can now ride above it. In surfing, you will have a foil wing attached underneath your board. Paddling and catching waves is the same, but from the moment you take off, you will start to glide in a very different way. The surfboard detaches from the water and it creates a riding experience you have never felt before.
How do hydrofoils work
As a surfer, you use the energy created by the upper part of the wave. With the foil, a lot happens under water and you'll use the energy below the wave. Much like the wing of an airplane, the water will move around the wing of the foil and push the foil upwards. This creates speed to lift the surfboard of the water and start your glide. Because the board has no contact with the water, there is no resistance, and it generates a lot of speed. This way, foil surfing does not require clean or good waves. You can surf any kind of wave, and especially when it's small and onshore winds, it's very fun to practice!
Is foil surfing hard? And what's the best way to start?
We strongly discourage to go surfing as your first experience with a foil. As it might look easy when you watch the videos or someone with experience, it is actually very challenging and can be dangerous as the foil has sharp edges. Ocean waves are unpredictable and can push you out of balance easily. Luckily, there's other ways to get you on the foil. You can hold a handle and be towed by boat, kite, cable system or wakepark.
How to foil behind a cable system or wakepark
This is by far your best option to start using a foil. In kitesurf foil you have to deal with the wind and possible gusts, behind a boat you are in open water and the ocean can be challenging and choppy. At a wakepark, all of this is controlled and a lot safer! If you have a wakepark or cable system close to your location, inquire with them if it's possible to use a foil. Not all wakeparks will have foiling available, as it requires a certain set up and water depth. Make sure the wakepark has a 2-tower cable system. This has the possibility to manually control the speed, which is the key to success. The water is flat and always the same. The wakepark set-up is a very controlled environment and it's extra safe as impact vests and helmets are available in all sizes.
Siargao Wakepark offers 'Start To Foil' for all levels! No experience needed, as we will teach you all the basics and get you on the foil in 'no time'. We use a Stand Up Paddle Board with big volume which you can stand on from the start. A soft traction will get you on to speed to start riding. Gently you will start feeling the foil. Once you are ready, softly push on the back foot the create the initial lift and detach the board from the water. While riding, stand tall and bring you weight to the front foot.
How to kitesurf foil
If you know how to kitesurf already, this might be your best option. You can use your foil surfboard instead of kitesurf board and try go navigate your kitespot. Just keep in mind you don't need a lot of wind. The foil will get you riding starting 6 to 10 knots of wind speed, and you can use a smaller kite than normal. Starting to kitesurf foil in heavy wind conditions is not advisable. Keep in mind: try to ride normal first, with the board on the water. Slowly increase your speed to start using the foil. Keep the kite high above you, so you have enough body lift, and you can start riding slowly. There is no need to go fast! With the foil everything goes more slow.
How to foil behind a boat
Any small or big boat can get you going on a foil. If you own a boat, it's a "no-brainer" or you can go hire one in your local harbour. Make sure you have an experienced boat driver who knows how to gently increase the speed while you start. You can do a water start, laying with the board in front of you, or you can lay on your belly first. The start requires a very gentle pull or traction, so it's easy to get into position and feel the water. Once you feel confident, signal the boat driver to increase the speed. Again, ride with the board on the water first. When you feel you have enough speed, slowly push the board upwards so you can start using the foil.
Find a fresh blogpost with our friends of Siargao Watersports located at Bravo Resort. With them you can learn how to foil behind a boat, and while kitesurfing or wingsurfing!