SURF FOIL FAQ’s: We get asked a lot of questions about foil surfing. We asked Coleman (and our Goon Squad) to compile a list of the top 10 most frequently asked questions they get about foil surfing.
Here are your top 10 questions:
1. How hard is foil surfing to learn?
Of all the foiling disciplines (surf, kite, windsurf, wake and SUP), surf foiling is probably the most difficult to learn. If you can already foil in another sport, or if you can get a little foil time behind a boat or with a jetski, you’ll have a huge head start in the surf. Just accept the fact that you’ll have to pay your dues and enjoy the process of learning something new and exciting. If you’re a decent surfer with strong overall board skills, chances are good you’ll get your first short foil rides within your first few sessions.
2. How dangerous is it?
Foils are sharp, there’s no getting around it. They need to be, for efficiency and performance. So yes, there’s definitely a level of risk that comes with it, especially when you add waves to the equation. If you take precautions (like wearing a full wetsuit, booties a helmet and an impact vest or PFD), the risks are minimized, and once you get over the learning curve, they drop dramatically. Starting with a short mast in small, crumbly surf will make a big difference in keeping things safe and under control.
3. How good of a surfer do I need to be?
A general guideline is you should be an intermediate to advanced surfer or an experienced foiler in another sport and a decent surfer.
4. What type of waves should I learn on?
First and foremost, waves where other surfers are not. The last thing you want to do is put someone else in danger with your foil. To get started, small crumbly waves are the best. The goal is to catch the whitewater, get enough speed to pop up, then slowly increase back-foot pressure to get on-foil. You won’t do yourself any favors trying to pop up on steep, breaking waves. If you have a jetski, learning on outside swell is another great option. You can get the basics of foiling behind the ski then when you’re ready, tow into rolling swell that won’t break and take you out.
5. What kind of foil do I need? Can I learn with a kiteboarding foil?
For paddle-in surfing, you’ll want a foil with a relatively large front wing and plenty of early lift so you can get up and foiling easily on small waves. Ride Engines Futura Surf Foil Package comes stock with our RIDE ENGINE Manta 76cm wing, which is perfect for all-around paddle-in surf foiling. Most kite-specific foils will need a little more speed to get up and foiling (and to stay foiling), so they won’t be a good option for in the surf unless you’re charging larger, faster waves or higher-speed tow-in swell riding. The discussion of carbon vs. aluminum is a topic in itself, but our general recommendation is to start with a less expensive, less fragile aluminum setup. For most, it’ll be more than adequate for the long term. Advanced foilers looking for further progression can transition to higher-performance carbon.
6. Can I use a surfboard I already own?
It depends. You’ll need a board with a dedicated foil box installed. Local shapers are tuning in to foiling and many are starting to install track boxes for their customers, either in custom boards or in existing boards with enough volume to be retrofitted with a box. Some surf foil brands, like Ride Engine, has track boxes you (or your shaper) can buy separately, specifically for custom installation. If you look at a dedicated surf foil board, like the Board overview in the video you’ll notice a few distinct design details that make a big difference. High volume and a thick, blocky tail are a big help in early takeoff and small, mushy waves.
7. Should I use a leash or not?
If you’re towing into big rolling swell, probably not. If you’re on the inside, yes, for your own sake and for the safety of others. A longer leash will give you more distance between you and the foil, and we’ve seen longer coil leashes work well as they take up the slack.
8. Is it really worth the cost?
How much would you pay to feel the excitement of catching your first wave over and over again? How much would you pay to escape the crowds, to never again be chased away by the wind, to have the best session of your life in small, crumbly waves? How much do people pay chasing a week’s worth of powder? Foiling will change your entire experience on the water and it is definitely worth it.
9. What length mast is best for learning?
Start with a short mast- you won’t regret it. The Ride Engine Futura foil comes with a 15” mast and a 24” mast. The shorter of the two is easier to control, safer to learn with and will make a big difference in how fast you progress past the eating shit phase. The 24” mast is the sweet spot for catching the energy most waves.
10. How do I get started?
Call your local shaper. They will have a wealth of information that is important for your local spots. Then, go through Foil Academy (www.Foil-Academy.com. It’s a great, and free, online course with a wealth of valuable information, tips, tricks and tutorials on learning to foil. The time you spend in Foil Academy will save you exponentially more time and energy as you learn and progress.
If at all possible, get a feel for the foil behind a jetski or boat before you take in into the surf.
As we always recommend: Please contact your local shaper. They have a wealth of knowledge about boards, what’s working, what’s not, and where to surf in your local area.