One of the biggest criticisms windfoiling receives is that it’s dull – or at least looks that way to the non-initiated.
For sure, ‘mowing the lawn’ in standard windy mode may lose its appeal quickly. Although I’d argue that being out windsurfing, in whatever guise, is far better than sitting on the beach or not sailing.
And as far as windfoiling goes: it’s a totally unique feeling so therefore engages from the off. But this isn’t an article about selling the virtues of windfoiling in general. This is about spicing things up for anybody although competently flying.
If you’ve nailed down the fundamentals of foiling, are scoring sustained flights over decent distance, then you may be looking at other avenues to continue on your flying journey. Of course, there’s the racing/speed thing but not everybody’s after this. For most foilers, coming at it from a performance freeride angle, trying to mirror your standard bump and jump sessions are what will most appeal.
Blatting back and forth, boosting when ramps pop up for launching and going round bends is what most of us windsurfers do. OK, there’s possibly a wave angle, with some lips hits involved, but due to applicable wave sailing conditions not being readily available all the time it’s bump and jump that’s still the most practised element of windsurfing. So why not mirror this on foil?
The beauty of jumping on foil is that even in 10 knots any experienced rider will be able to boost higher than they would on standard windy kit with a bit more wind. The ‘spring’ of the foil is what allows us to literally bounce into the sky – some foils more than others but most will allow air time.
So how does it work?
Unlike windsurfing, where you spot a ramp, head up the incline and use the apex of the wave/chop to help project jumping on foil is more like being on a trampoline. You can still use a ramp – and in fact this aids even higher boosts. But when jumping on foil you need to bounce up into the air.
Coming down low, but without having the board touch the water (as this slows you down), you then compress your legs before coming back up high on foil and throwing everything into the sky.
If you’re aiming to boost from a ramp then time your bounce to hit the apex, just as you would when standard windsurfing.
A completely different feeling
Foil jumping is a completely different feeling to regularly popping. You mightn’t even think you’re that high. But if you’re clearing the foil then you pretty much are.
To land it’s a good idea to try and touch down with your wings level. This is then soft and forgiving plus allows riders to keep flying post-jump.
Jumping on foil in light winds is super fun and can certainly spice up these sessions. For anyone looking to progress their boosting further then windy conditions really light things up. As soon as you’re able to foil on small sails your opportunity to jump higher is increased. If you’re also able to ride lower volume boards, like some of the smaller foil specific boards now appearing, then this also helps. More nimble kit also allows other moves such as foiling forwards.
Now I appreciate that jumping is one thing whereas foiling loops and backies, for instance, are another kettle of fish. But if you’re an accomplished looper already in standard mode then it’s not really too much of an issue to start chucking yourself over the handle bars on foil. As with all aspects of foiling simply keep hold of your boom and if it all goes wrong generally nothing will happen other than a big splash.
Personally I love foiling on smaller sails and boards and in stronger winds. I heard another bod suggest the differences between being on a 125L-ish foil sled compared to a 105L is a bit like the difference of riding a 95L freestyle wave versus 80L wave.
Basically you’re getting more manoeuvrability and control. Yet as already stated foil jumping can quite easily be done aboard 120L+ sleds in sub-planing winds.
What are the risks?
It should be mentioned there are some considerations if you’re looking to take to the air on your foil. For anyone riding a hybrid carbon/G10 and alloy masted foil there’s a risk of bending the mast. Alloy isn’t (generally) as stiff as carbon and whilst you can also damage carbon foils, alloy masts will give way quicker.
I’ve bent a few but that said I’ve also been jumping/looping a while. Damage in relation to the amount of sessions I’ve had is minimal. But it’s a consideration none the less.
Also you’re taking slightly more risk with being in the air on a foil. Generally injuries don’t happen but they could. If you’re going to start doing this kind of thing then commitment needs to be 100%. Less than 100% means more likely you’ll have issues.
Spice up your foiling!
Foil jumping and progressing on to things like foiling loops aren’t that big a deal once riders get their heads round the fact there’s a large dangly thing protruding from the tail of the board. It’s not as sketchy as you’d imagine – for anyone with a decent amount of experience. And it’s certainly a way to spice up your foiling and progress to the next level.
FOIL JUMPING TIPS
Check all foil bolts and screws are tight.
Start on flat water in lighter wind to get the feeling.
Don’t aim to jump super high at first.
Bounce the foil rather than ‘jump’.
Throw all your kit into the air to clear the foil.
Land with wings as level as possible.
Keep hold of your boom.
Wear a helmet/impact vest for added protection if needed.
Keep clear of others.
Use a ramp to boost even higher.
Foil fast for additional height.
If you’re aiming to loop on foil then go for it 100%.
Consider the damage your foil might pick up if alloy for instance.
Words by Tez Plavenieks
Editor, Windsurfing UK
Editor, SUP Mag UK
Action sports content creator - tezplavenieks.com
Pics: James Jagger, Nick Kingston