A beginner’s guide to hydrofoil surfing
Hydrofoil surfing is the future of water sports like surfing. It gives you access to new waves, some surf breaks super far offshore that have never been explored before, and most amazingly they redefine what we think is a surfable wave or not.
Let’s make sure you understand everything about hydrofoiling safely. It is always all about the set up of the board, the stance, the riding techniques; and how the underwater wings work. This is something very new to the market and so far has be known to be very hard too!
Foil surfing or hydrofoil is a really cool experience; and does not really need a wave to get going. Hydrofoil is described as a somehow controlled aquaplaning. It is about gliding on the water smoothly, and effortlessly.
What Does It Look Like?
A hydrofoil is a long hydrodynamical designed fin with wings. It actually reduces the effects of the wind on the surface of the water. This fin also reduces friction and allow you to angle at 90 degrees in less than a second.
The surfboard is lifted outside of the water even at low speed with its structure of fuselage; aluminum, blends steels, and fiberglass. Hydrofoils can be used to either surf, cruise around the ocean, river, or lake, or even race.
The first time a foil was attached to a surfboard was when Laird Hamilton did it. He used it on big waves conditions and proved that it would be a great addition and valuable weapon to use in all kind of swells.
The came Kai Lenny who tested the hydrofoil in all kind of watersports like windsurfing, surfing, kitesurfing, and even bodyboarding. He the used it in all kind of different oceans, conditions; waves, and scenarios to see the possibility of this new equipment.
Where To Hydrofoil?
Hydrofoiling is super fun, but you need to make sure everyone around you and yourself are safe. The best surf spot would be where there is no one else out, especially when starting out or not trusting your skill level or when you are still learning.
You can ride a hydrofoil anywhere really. But that does not mean that you should go to a crowded spot. You want to use the most out of the water and the conditions that you have. So going to a crowded spot is simply not the best idea.
What Kind Of Wave Do You Surf?
You can honestly ride anything and everything. Even the worst wave you’ve ever seen in your life. But the best way to learn and get started is a surf spot with small 1-2 foot wave range.
The whole goal of a hydrofoil is to paddle into the whitewater rolls, and when you stand up, the board will have enough power you need to ride it.
To learn a jet ski or boat might help you learn the basics of the board and how to adapt to it. Like holding on to a rope and getting used to the feeling of riding before figuring out the whole paddle thing.
How is the board set up?
The spot on the surfboard where you will have to attach the foil really depends on your height, weight, and the wave you are riding.
Whether you are small or larger and need that extra lift on the board; you are going to position the wing forward in the box.
But when the waves are bigger; the plate system should be moved back on the tracks.
What Does The Stance Look Like?
Just like a surfboard, you should place traction pads exactly where you will be placing your feet. They guide you for your stance so you dont have to think about it.
Here is the trick to find your sweet spot on a hydrofoil: have your back foot over the mast or even a little bit behind it.
When you want to start pumping or make a tight turn, you can always step back a bit, and you will be right on the kick tail.
Always aim for a shoulder width apart stance with a lot of pressure on your front foot.
How To Enter The Water and Paddle Out?
Walk into the water by holding your board like a normal surfboard, and grab the foil’ wing tip with the other hand.
When you are about in chest deep water, start paddling like you would on a regular surfboard.
You will notice that duck dives will be easier as the foils create that extra lift and will project you straight through the back of the wave.
How To Do A Pop Up and Ride It?
When you see the wave you want to catch, start paddling and keep going until you feel you’ve caught it. The take off process is the exact same as surfing!
As soon as you get up, drive a lot of pressure in your front foot; like you are snowboarding. The steeper the wave is, the more you have to lean forward.
Like we had mentioned earlier, having the traction pads where your feet needs to be will make it that much easier so you dont have to think about anything.
You will obviously feel different than surfing. You will need to adopt more of a squat stance while keeping your chest vertical and shoulders wide open so that you can have the right balance and not wipeout.
How does the foil work?
It is just like an airplanes wings of even bird wings. Pretty easy to understand.
The more you lean on your back foot; the more the wing is going to tilt upright and create more lift. If you put pressure on your front foot; the wing will be underwater.
Finding your balance will take time.
Hydrofoiling sounds like and is a very exciting new way to experience surfing and the ocean. It will take time to get good at it so make sure you know what you are doing before you do it in front of others. And have fun with it! Just make sure to not give up because it will take time to adapt!
Kai Lenny created a 101 course on how to hydrofoil, check it out HERE for part 1.