Foiling has given a bit of fresh air to windsurfing which has known a decreasing popularity since 2000. As many others in the windsurfing industry, we believe that hydrofoil windsurfing is the greatest innovation that windsurfing has seen the past 30 years. This is the future of windsurfing!
People are more and more enthusiastic about the sport and brands are getting inspired and delving into creative innovations. Foil windsurfing will also be the new Olympic discipline from 2024. These are many positive factors which are about to create a new golden age for windsurfing.
Today we would like to give a shout-out to some of the most innovative brands on the market. They try new things, thinking outside the box, and contribute in making windsurfing great again.
(Read also: 9 ways windfoiling has been a game changer)
No one knows yet if these innovations will stick for the next 20 years or not, but you don’t need to see the whole staircase to take the first step, so kudos to those who are taking some risks and pushing the sport forward.
Taaroa is an up-and-coming premium hydrofoil company. The company was known for its racing foils a few years back and is now launching a new generation of hydrofoils focused on accessibility and versatility. While many other brands involved in windfoiling are coming from either the windsurfing or the kitesurfing world, Taaroa is a company dedicated to foiling.
They are a team of enthusiasts with varied backgrounds who share the same goal: pushing the limits of maritime mobility by using their experience to imagine new products, to develop increasingly more efficient foils, and to create technology that consistently pushes the boundaries of what was previously thought impossible, i.e. designing the next generation of hydrofoils.
We have been in contact with Baptiste Tripard, passionate co-founder of Taaroa, who explained us what we can expect from their new product: “the intelligent foil”, officially called Taaroa i-Up.
It’s a new concept where artificial intelligence is meeting human performance. Sounds like an April Fools’ Day joke? Not at all!
Taaroa has been inspired by aeronautics and drone technology and adapted it to foils. The new Taaroa intelligent foil is equipped with an internal computer and several sensors, enabling automatic adjustments of the angle of attack of the wings while flying.
The computer will automatically analyse the different dimensions: yaw, roll, pitch and height above water (Imagine three lines running through a boat and intersecting at right angles at the boat’s centre of gravity. Rotation around the front-to-back axis is called roll. Rotation around the side-to-side axis is called pitch. Rotation around the vertical axis is called yaw.)
The computer will adjust the dynamics of the foil accordingly, which will give the rider a perfectly balanced board without any effort. It will be like flying on autopilot! Different modes are available and programmable through a smartphone App for more control or more performance.
This is a great innovation for beginners, as the first runs on a foil are always tricky, with many over-foils and catapults involved. This new intelligent system will also prevent the board from rolling on the side and help avoid the risk of falling directly on the foil. Foil beginners will be able to learn foiling very quickly in a safe way and with confidence. Even total beginners (i.e. non windsurfers) may learn windfoiling in a few hours.
We believe that this new foil-technology will be interesting for windsurf schools, but it’s also a potential game-changer for more advanced riders who want to ride in stronger winds and at a higher speed. Today the windfoil speed world record is around 35 knots. Could we potentially go much faster using this type of technology, correcting human mistakes and reducing the fear factor at high speeds?
The Taaroa i-Up intelligent foil is available on pre-order from April 2020. It will be priced at the same level as premium carbon foils. If you are interested in learning more about the iUP or pre-ordering the foil, please contact us.
Slingshot is maybe more known for its kitesurfing gear. However, Slingshot started as a windsurfing brand. Tony Logosz, head designer at Slingshot decided to come back to windsurfing with a full focus on foiling. Assisted by his brand manager and professional freeride/freestyle windsurfer Wyatt Miller, they have shown a totally new approach to windfoiling.
While almost all windsurfing brands were focused on the performance race-style foiling, Slingshot and some other brands including Naish and Horue, decided to think outside the box, and get inspired by the growing foil surfing community.
Their vision of foiling was not about speed and crazy upwind angles, but more about having fun on the water, whatever the conditions. Their boards are short and compact, but still keeping lots of volume. The foils are mainly in aluminum with low aspect ratio wings, keeping costs and prices down but still with great flying proprieties. Those kind of foils are not the fastest on earth, but they are so fun to ride!
While brands like Starboard have conquered people interested in race windfoiling, Slingshot has become the main actor in the freeride scene. We will see in the coming years how this develops, but our feeling is that freeride windfoiling may attract more people into the sport, as it’s less extreme, easier to learn, and slightly less expensive than race-foiling.
Horue has always been a precursor and was one of the first brands to launch a windsurf foil range several years ago. They were the first to introduce super compact boards with the Tiny and the Femto.
The shape of their foils are also very different than any other brands on the market, with a characteristic boomerang shape for the Vini front wing. It’s called “forward swept wing” concept, and it has been used in aviation for many years. The advantages are an increased manoeuvrability.
They have also created several accessories like the life box, to preserve all your foil screws and bolts in the same place, and the biplane adapter to assemble 2 Horue front wings together instead of buying a new larger wing.
Elix recently showed the first pictures of their Condor concept. We talked with Erwan Le Gallic, founder of Elix Funboard about this new project and he explained:
“The Condor idea started 2 years ago as an innovative idea to improve aerodynamics on the water. A windsurf board has indeed no active role in flight and even limits the performance due to its drag.
Windfoiling has evolved around existing windsurf shapes, without much originality. We also continue to position the foil at the same place as the fin, and the fuselage places the front wing forward. The foil box should instead be positioned over the front wing, but this is yet another subject.
The Condor concept opens a new path. The board is more aerodynamic to limit drag to the minimum. The hard part was to maintain certain properties:
- The buoyancy and the hydrodynamic features necessary to get the lift from the water at the start, without harming the aerodynamic design.
- Some constraints linked to the need for manoeuvers such as tacking were taken into account. Windfoilers are generally more interested in jibing than tacking to keep flying during the manoeuver, apart from those focused on a racing course.
Our team riders Hélène Noesmoen, Benjamin Longy, Romuald Geyer, and Benjamin Tillier quickly became familiar with the concept and really liked the speed and sensations.
The craze is so strong that we plan more and more to launch the shape in production. A decision will be made in the coming months.”
The Hydra Pro is Ezzy’s dedicated windfoil sail. It is born from David Ezzy’s passion and attention to detail. David noticed that windfoiling opens up a whole new challenge for sail design, as the fundamentals of windfoiling are simply different than normal windsurfing.
That’s why the Ezzy Hydra Pro looks nothing like a normal windsurf sail.
David had 5 goals in mind when designing the Hydra Pro:
1) It must be more efficient than a normal windsurfing sail
2) It must be less sensitive to gusts than a normal windsurfing sail
3) It must have enough power to get up and get going but also controllable when flying
4) It must be able to de-power easily
5) It must be very light weight
The elongated foot on the Hydra takes advantage of the board’s height off the water to create a hyper efficient sail. On a normal windsurfing sail, a long foot like this would hit the water when cruising and simply not work, but when foiling, we can take advantage of this “free” space created by flying above the water. The extra long foot forms an end-plate with the board.
This is very similar to how winglets work on a jet wing, and aerodynamic theory tells us that an end-plate like this greatly improves the efficiency of the sail. It reduces the unwanted turbulent airflow that normally occurs below the foot of a traditional sail, giving the Hydra Pro a smooth and predictable feel when foiling.
The extra long foot also makes the sail more stable. This means that you are less vulnerable to gusts throwing you off balance when you’re flying on the foil, which makes foiling a lot easier. But at the same time, because only the foot is extended and not the entire sail, the pull of the sail remains forward for a more comfortable sailing experience.
In any sport, there are periods with status quo and periods with ground-breaking innovations. Most of the time, innovations in sport equipment are evolving by adapting technologies that are already used in other sport categories. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel!
The same is currently happening for windsurfing which is currently knowing a revival thanks to foiling, adapting the technology from kitesurfing, sailing or drones. There is a positive wind blowing in the windsurfing world: Manufacturers are now more innovative than ever and some are even creating their own custom boards and foils as in the good ol’ days!
Foil windsurfing equipment is now over the experimentation stage and becoming more and more efficient, safer, and easier to learn on. More and more people are interested and younger people are attracted into the sport.
We love the creativity and the enthusiasm people and brands are showing since the emergence of foil windsurfing. This is so positive for the sport and we hope that we will continue to see more innovations and improvement and the coming months and years.