Folks are referring to it as ‘foiling, foil-boarding, wing-foiling, foil-surfing or even hydrofoil’. Whatever you wish to call it, it is the trending sport right now. Stand Up Paddleboarding, initially targeted a more mature or older audience and really never made huge inroads into the hard-core surfing community. While there were certainly some stand-outs, like Kai Lenny and Zane Schweitzer for instance, who made their mark on the world stage, the sport gave rise to a separate group of athletes who excelled in racing and wave riding. The great sup wave riders all having a surfing background.
Foiling, on the other hand is attracting surfers, young and old – all in awe of what this new sport offers. If you have ever snow-boarded in powder, that is the feeling! The feeling of an airy silence and of minimal resistance. If you haven’t been in the snow, then prepare yourself for a wonderful experience.
How do I get into foiling at Muizenberg Beach?
While I have never been towed on one behind a boat, it is strongly recommended that if you do have a mate with a rubber duck or speedboat, get them to help you to get up and riding. The advantage of the boat pulling you, is that the speed can be controlled and this allows you to find your happy place on the board. If this isn’t possible, then just pick a small day at a mellow surf break for your entry into the sport. Always a good idea to take a lesson with an experienced instructor.
What about the board?
You essentially have three options. Prone foiling, which is done on a small lighterage board, paddling into waves, exactly like you would when you are surfing (Boards from 3ft to 6ft).
Alternatively, you can have the foil on a small SUP and paddle in the same way as when you are sup-surfing. (boards from 5ft 8in to 8ft). The latest and most exciting of the disciplines, is wing-foiling. This is done on a smallish board as well. Ideally, you want the board to have enough volume for you to be able to kneel on it. These boards are normally shorter and thicker than conventional surf or sup boards. Then, the main component is the wing. Similar to kite-boarding, the wings range in size from 3sqm to 7 sqm and is relative to your weight and the strength of the wind.
Remember, you have a ’Samurai sword’ under your board that juts out almost a meter from the underside of your board. It is highly recommended to wear a helmet when you are starting out. So, when you fall – not if you fall, be sure to kick the board away from you or dive away from the foil. We have seen some nasty accidents, simply because people have been unprepared for this.
Your first Surf on a Foil
People hurt themselves more getting in and out of the water than they do riding the actual foil. Push your board and foil out into waist deep water before flipping it over. To start with, I suggest that you catch a small wave, even a broken wave and go straight, as opposed to trying to angle and going down the line immediately. Once you are up and standing, keep your weight on your front foot because the front of your board will want to rise like a stallion. Stay a little more crouched than normal so as to lower your sense of gravity. Don’t drive off your back foot like normal, because the foil will flip out and buck you off the board. Rather just give a little pump with your back foot and see-saw the board to a happy medium. Once you have experienced the lift and you feel comfortable, then start angling on the wave. First prize to start with is to ride the length of the wave.
Your instructor or foil-friend will help you with what size board, foil and wing to use.
For more info, Xpression on the Beach offer surf lessons and board rentals from our AK Test Center at Muizenberg beach in Cape Town. We have boards, foils and wings to get you started. Call us on 021-7090596 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck and Happy Foil-boarding.