Kitesurfing a foil board

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How to kitesurf on a hydro foil board.
A foil board (hydrofoil board) is a kitesurfing board with a hydrofoil attached beneath it.  Once mastered, the board lifts entirely out of the water and you are riding only on the hydrofoil.
Cabrinha Double Agent foil board
You should be an experienced kitesurfer before using a foil board.  Learning to use a foil board is harder than learning to kitesurf!

Advantages of foil boards include:
  • Great upwind ability
  • Very smooth ride - the foil "flies underwater"
  • Great for light wind conditions
Disadvantages of foil board include:
  • Its very difficult to learn
  • The hydrofoil is sharp - avoid cutting your feet/legs on it, or being yanked forwards onto it
  • Can be cumbersome to transport
  • Need deeper water to operate
  • Boards and foils are expensive

General tips

  • Wear an impact vest and helmet, particularly when learning
  • Wear light booties to protect your feet from injuries impacting the sharp edges the foil or mast
  • Wear a full length wetsuit for additional protection of arms and legs.
  • Carry the foil board like a normal surfboard under your arm with the foil sticking out sideways
  • Body drag with the board on its side into deep water (at least chest deep) to water start OR with the board flat on the water - see wwhich works best for you. 
  • Hold and direct the board by its nose when you are in the water.
  • Use a recreational foil board when learning rather than a racing foil board.  Some kitesurfing schools have boards with short masts which can make the first few learning sessions easier on flat water.
  • Mount foots traps as far forward as possible - this will help you to get your weight forward.

Kite foil board technique

First & second session:
  • Choose lighter wind when there is not too much swell (e.g. 15 knots)
  • Choose a location where there is flat water - such as behind a breakwater
  • Use the same kite size you would for a surfboard
  • When you do a water start get your weight on your front foot and ride the board flat - don't attempt to rise on the foil
  • Keep your weight forward on your front foot - much more that you do with a surfboard or twin tip.
  • Put your rear foot forward of the rear strap (some people prefer to learn without straps so they can bail off the board easily)
  • You can also practice using a foil board by getting towed behind a boat - this puts your focus entirely on the board and you can do it on flat water.
Third and fourth session:
  • As per first session - its important to get stable on the board while riding it flat
  • Get some more speed by powering up the kite a bit
  • As your speed increases, the foil may rise out of the water.  Concentrate on keeping the board horizontal. 
  • If you transfer too much weight to your back foot the foil will bring the board out of the water - this can lead to "porpoising' with the board rising and falling. 
  • Once on the foil you will experience a very smooth ride and very little pull on your harness.  Back the kite power off a bit to avoid going to fast too soon.

*** More information will be added to this article as we learn how to "kite foil" ***

Videos


Hydrofoil Self Rescue Safety (light wind)



External links