To get clarity on the windfoil market and trends, we have asked our beloved windfoil community to answer some simple questions about your preferred gear, style, and location.
We are very happy to see that many of you have taken the time to answer. We received 345 forms, which is enough data to get relevant statistics and derive some trends.
Note that the statistics below are of course not accurate and only based on a small sample of the total market, but we believe that they are good enough to give a realistic picture of the windfoil market right now.
Let’s go through the different results:
Windsurfing versus windfoiling
The first question was about the commitment to windfoiling. Our assumption was that the majority of people are windfoiling in light wind (which is why people get interested in windfoiling in the first place) and windsurfing as soon as there is enough wind for a short board.
This is also what the statistics show: 79% of windfoilers are also (still) windsurfing, while 21% of the respondents are only windfoiling.
Our experience is however that as your windfoiling skills improve, you actually manage to foil in almost any condition, and foiling in strong winds and waves is pretty addictive and the number of “windfoilers only” will most probably increase going forward.
Where are the windfoilers?
It’s not a big surprise that the traditional windsurfing countries are also the most advanced when it comes to windfoiling. France, UK and USA are the three dominant markets for windfoiling, representing almost half of the foilers. Other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Australia are also countries where windfoiling has seen a lot of development.
What are the different styles of windfoiling?
We asked our community to select the windfoil style which best fit their style of windfoiling:
Freeride (small sails, small boards, …)
Freerace (large sails, large boards, speed,…)
Race (PWA or formula race style)
We can say that the windfoil community is divided into two main types of foiling: the racers/freeracers -representing 52% of the windfoilers and the freestyle/freeriders - representing 48% of the community.
What are the most popular brands?
Here comes the most exciting part. Many brands have entered the windfoil market over the past couple of years, however we realise that there are a few big brands dominating the market, and a long tail of smaller brands trying to push their way into the market as well».
Starboard is the market leader for windsurf hydrofoils with 25% market shares. It’s quite surprising to see Slingshot at a solid second place with 17% market shares, knowing that Slingshot is mostly known as a kitesurf brand (even if they used to be involved in windsurfing years ago), and that they only focus on the freeride side of windfoiling.
Third place is for Neilpryde (or F4) foils with 11% market shares. Those three brands are selling more than half of the windsurfing hydrofoils currently on the market. Note that some brands have a local competitive edge: Slingshot is by far market leader in the US, AFS and Zeeko are the most popular brands in France, but Lokefoil and Taaroa are well established as well.
When it comes to windfoil boards, we see a similar pattern: Starboard is dominating with 25% market shares, JP Australia has a solid 16% market share (probably thanks to the Hydrofoil board range which has been successful since the first release in 2017), and Slingshot with 11% share.
Again the top three brands are representing more than half of the windfoil fleet around the world, but with some local divergences: Slingshot is the most popular brand in the US, JP Australia is as strong as Starboard in the UK and Exocet seems to have a lot of fans in France. Note that about 5% claim that their board is home-made or custom made, like in the good ol’ days.
Read also our popular blog post:
Brand preference per windfoil style
Now let’s dive deep into the different windfoil styles and see if we can see significant changes in the brand preferences.
There is no doubt that Starboard is dominating the race scene both with its race foils and race boards. However, Neilpryde foils and JP Australia boards have still a decent share of the pie. It will be interesting to see if Phantom International will manage to increase their share of the market after the phenomenal PWA foiling season they achieved in 2019 (with 3 riders in the overall top 4, and the world champion Nicolas Goyard).
The recent selection of the Starboard IQ Foil program for the 2024 Olympics will however strengthen Starboard’s leading position even more.
The dominance of Starboard in the freerace segment is slightly less, offering some room for challenger brands like Neilpryde, AFS or RRD for the foils, and JP Australia, Exocet, Fanatic, RRD or Tabou for the boards.
It’s in the freeride segment we see most variation in the choice of windfoiling gear. While Slingshot is clearly leading the freeride hydrofoil segment with their Hoverglide foil, many other brands are showing some potential: Starboard again with their Supercruiser or freeride foil, Naish, Neilpryde with the Glide, and Moses which is getting more and more popular in windfoiling.
In the freeride windfoil board segment we have 3 brands dominating: Slingshot of course with their very short Wizard and Freestyle boards, but also Starboard (including the new foil X and Freeride range) and JP Australia.
With only 6% freestylers in our survey, it was not possible to make any significant conclusions about their brand choice.
While this report was based on a relatively small sample of the windfoiling community, we believe that the results are relatively trustworthy and give us an idea of what the windfoil market looks like right now.
Here are the key findings:
79% of the foilers are still windsurfing (21% are windfoiling only)
France, United Kingdom, and USA are the three main windfoiling countries, representing 42% of the foiling community
52% of the foilers are more into freerace/race foiling, while 48% are more interested in the freeride/freestyle movement
Starboard is the market leader, both for hydrofoils and foil boards. Starboard is dominating the freerace/race segment, while Slingshot is leading the freeride segment, in particular in the US.
We also believe that many brands are right now having relatively low market shares, but many of them are doing an excellent job and offering great quality products. They may have a promising future as the windfoil market will most likely continue to grow in the coming years.