Hydrofoils are the future of water sports. They give us access to new waves and sea surf spots that have never been explored before. The foil redefines the waves we think are rideable. Foil surf is an exciting experience, and it probably doesn’t need waves to get started. Hydrofoil surfing is a bit like controlled water skiing. It’s all about gliding effortlessly and smoothly on the water.
Introducing the Foil Surf
Ted Robinson said he felt like a kid watching the mushy, two-foot waves at St. Onofre State Beach, smiling as he talked about his morning foil surfing lessons.
Robinson has been surfing since the age of five, travelling the world as a top competitive surfer and riding a variety of surfboards there.
He tried the first version of foil surf 20 years ago when it was by big wave surfer Laird Hamilton and a group of professional surfers. Back then, surfers had to clip into their boots like they were on a ski, and then haul in with a boat.
“They’re really rough,” Robinson said.
That said, It wasn’t until a few years ago that Kai Lenny started to be eye-opening.
Lenny, a Hawaiian sailor who was recently inducted into the Surfers Hall of Fame at age 26, is one of the best big wave surfers, windsurfers, paddleboarders – and the best water rider of the time. He was a team rider, testing innovations for Naish, a company that produced windsurfing and kitesurfing foil boards for about eight years.
“He’s definitely the one who really brought it to the present,” said Chuck Patterson, working on Naish.
Laney started posting videos showing him using the foil to sprint into big waves and use the foil to traverse long passages floating on the water.
Historically, foils have been used in everything from aeroplanes to competitive rowing boats.
“A lot of it comes from aerodynamics. Sailing, catamaran, foiling turns to hydrodynamics,” said Patterson, who splits his time between San Clemente and Maui.
“I think the science is there, but it’s not invested in the sport part — the windsurfing, kitesurfing and surfing that we’re seeing here,” Patterson said. “It’s great that we now use a more scientific approach to riding the waves.”
“Foil surf is still very new,” Patterson said, and people often ask him how it works.
“You look at it and say, ‘Wow, this is awesome, I want to try it.’ But it’s very difficult. It takes a lot of time and energy,” he said. “Many people who rush into the sport end up hurting.”
The Foil Surf Spots
Hydrofoils are fun, but we need to make sure it’s very safe for ourselves and others around us. Ideally, find a place where no one is there, especially if you don’t trust your skills or you’re still in the learning phase. Because you can use your foil surfboard almost anywhere, you don’t need to waste your rest time. You can take advantage of whatever conditions you have.
The Wave Selection
You can ride everything. Even the worst waves you’ll ever see in your life. The best way to start is to find a spot with small waves within a foot or two. The goal is to paddle into the whitewater rollers, and while you’re standing, you’ll have all the power you need to ride a hydrofoil. A jet ski or boat can help you learn the basics and get used to the surfboard. For example, grab the ropes and get used to the overall feeling of riding.
How the Foil Works
Understanding how foil works are very simple. The process is similar to aeroplane or bird wings. The more you lean back with your rear foot, the more the wing will tilt vertically, creating more lift. The more weight the forefoot puts on in the opposite direction, the more the wing dives underwater. Finding balance is key to controlling your hydrofoil board.
Is it safe?
As foil surfing has grown in popularity, concerns have grown that the danger is not only for riders but also for others in the water who may be zipping through the trails with sturdy, sharp foils.
“It makes a lot of people unfamiliar with it nervous, and I think that’s fair. Part of that is the education process for riders and those in their immediate vicinity — safety comes first, and education comes with it,” Shanks said.
Foil Surf Equipment
What’s more, you can have some jump posture in the future. That’s amazing! Let’s enjoy this addicted sport in 2022.