Photo credit: Slingshot windsurfing
Are we seeing a windsurf-revolution these days? Foil windsurfing is on everyone's lips, whether it’s positive comments or not – it’s getting people talking! Is foil windsurfing - or windfoiling - going to succeed and convert every windsurfer to this new style of windsurfing? In other words, will windsurf foiling be the future of windsurfing?
FOIL WINDSURFING - A NEW ERA OF WINDSURFING
For those of you who are old enough, remember when funboarding was introduced in the 80’s? At that time windsurfing was a family activity, easily accessible for most people, and funboarding was seen as more extreme and difficult. However, funboarding had many detractors, but the fact is that the brands that were pushing to develop funboarding, were able to make it happen. Funboading is now what we call windsurfing today.
The same thing is about to happen today with foiling. We hear quite a lot of negative comments coming from windsurfers about windfoiling, which is normal because let’s face the fact that: People are creatures of habit and are skeptical of evolution and change…
Critics have many arguments about the foil:
You need to upgrade all your windsurf gear
It will never replace sailing at 20 knots in waves
It’s boring just to sail back and force without moving
It’s so static that you don’t train anymore.
You don’t get the exiting “tac, tac, tac” noise of your windsurf board planning on the water
You can’t windsurf in shallow waters
Potential cuts from the foil due to its sharp edges
Read also our review: 5 Board Nose Protections For Your Next Windsurf Foiling Session!
WINDFOILING WILL PROBABLY BOOST THE FUTURE GROWTH OF WINDSURFING
I believe that windsurf foiling is here to stay and will gain more and more popularity in the years to come, recruiting new fans to the sport. Here are the top 7 reasons why I believe foil windsurfing is a game changer for the windsurfing sport:
1. ROBBY NAISH IS INVOLVED IN WINDFOILING
Remember: Naish was already involved when funboarding took off and he was involved early on in the development of kiteboarding. At that the beginning, windsurfers claimed that “Naish had sold his soul to the devil” when entering the kiteboarding world.
But Naish is a visionary leader, he knew exactly what he was doing. He had the gut feeling that kiteboarding was more than just a fad and he was of course, right again.
Having Naish involved in windfoiling is the confirmation that windsurf foiling is more than a something that will fade away, but a branch of windsurfing that will be developed further and hopefully be more financially accessible to everybody in the future.
Read also our popular blog post:
Windsurfing was replaced by kitesurfing in November 2011 for the 2016 Olympic Games but the decision was reversed one year later.
The reason kitesurfing replaced windsurfing is that in some places, less people were windsurfing and the sport was declining while kitesurfing was a sport on the rise - although globally, this was not the case for fleet racing.
But now, foiling is about to revolutionize our sport and the last piece of the puzzle was to get windfoiling as the official Olympic windsurfing platform for the future. It's now done as it has been decided that the IQFoil will replace the Neilpryde RS:X and will become the official Olympic equipment for men and women's windsurfers for Paris 2024!
This is great, as it will attract more people into windsurfing and grow the sport even further.
3. MANY KITEBOARD BRANDS ARE MAKING THEIR COMEBACK IN WINDSURFING WITH FOILS!
We have already seen this happen before when several windsurfing brands started investing in kitesurfing, as kitesurfing was growing while windsurfing was collapsing. All the windfoiling mania has created a similar effect, attracting kite brands back to windsurfing: Slingshot, Zeeko, Horue, Alpinefoil… and many other kitefoil brands are now trying to adapt their knowledge about kitefoiling to windfoiling.
Slingshot seems to be very serious about it. They even launched the Slingshot foil academy, to teach people how to foil. This shows that they are passionate about the sport, and in particular about the freeride/freestyle aspect of it.
Read the interview with Wyatt Miller of Slingshot, explaining his vision and how freestyle windfoiling is becoming a reality.
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN HOW TO WINDFOIL, YOU CAN ALSO CHECK OUT OUR TUTORIAL PAGE, WITH VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO LEARN WINDFOILING.
4. ANTOINE ALBEAU, 25 TIMES WINDSURF WORLD CHAMPION, IS FULLY INTO WINDFOILING
Antoine has competed in most windsurf disciplines, and is 25 times windsurf world champion. Antoine started windfoiling more than 15 years ago already and today, we can often see him flying on a foil in his social media feed.
This has of course a strong influence on the average windsurfer, and he is probably one of the best ambassador the discipline may have.
5. OTHER SAILING CATEGORIES HAVE ALREADY ADOPTED FOILING SEVERAL YEARS AGO
Foiling moth, kitefoiling, and even America’s cup sailing boats are now on foils. The reason is clear: more speed with less drag in the water. Kitefoiling has been a huge success so far, and the number of kitefoilers continues to grow. Windsurfing foil is therefore the next logical move for the growth of the sport as well.
To increase windsurf speed, something has to change radically. The introduction of hydrofoils could be the solution. These will probably be much smaller than today’s hydrofoils in order to avoid having too much drag. Let’s see what the future will bring when it comes to speed windfoiling!
Read also: How fast can you fly on a windsurf foil?
A spokesperson of Starboard confirmed recently in a forum: “Our objective is to not only have a foil which makes you fly slowly over the water, we are trying to make it fast. We don’t know how long it will take, but it’s the plan”.
6. GOOD WINDSURFING FOILS UNDER €1000
Several brands like Neilpryde, Mantafoils and Starboard have introduced alloy windfoils with prices well under €1000. Those foils are slightly heavier and less performant that 100% carbon hydrofoils, but they offer very good sensations and a very good alternative for those who want to learn how to windfoil.
Mantafoils Mono is low priced, but a great foil to begin with.
Not to mention, they are perfect for beginners who want to try foiling without investing €2000 in a carbon foil. The price of windsurf foils will hopefully decrease in the coming years, when the demand increases.
Dedicated foil windsurfing boards and foil windsurfing sails have been developed by several brands. While these boards and sails make windfoiling optimal and easier to learn on, you can also use a normal windsurf board and a classic rig as well. Make sure that the fin box is reinforced though, or change your fin box.
Many recent boards are “foil ready”, i.e. their fin boxes are reinforced deep tuttle boxes to cope the extreme forces that have been created by the hydrofoil. Several new foils are now compatible with powerbox fin boxes and come with load plates to make the connection stronger.
A good windfoil board should have enough volume (at least 120 L) and be relatively large (about 70-80 cm). There is now a large selection of windfoil boards to choose from. Please have a look at our windfoil board brand guide and read this article about the 4 main windfoiling styles, which will help you find the right board for you.
PROBABLY THE BEST WATERSPORT SUNGLASSES?
7- A REAL GAME CHANGER
Windfoiling has become a real game changer for us windsurfers. As you need lighter winds to get going on the foil, let's rediscover your local spot. Your local lake was probably not the perfect spot for windsurfing, but it can easily become a perfect playground for windfoiling.
No need to drive one hour to get decent windsurfing conditions anymore. You can now come back from work, have some family time, and have a couple of hours on the water before the night. Happy wife, happy dad, happy life.
REVOLUTION ON THE WAY
All in all, we can discuss this topic for a long time, whether or not windfoiling is going to revolutionize windsurfing, become a branch of the sport or disappear in the long run. Personally, I believe that foil windsurfing in general will become the norm in light winds, replacing formula windsurfing and that more and more people will become enthusiasts about the discipline, because who wouldn’t fly half a meter above the water?
The advantages are undeniable:
Double your days out on the water
Stop sitting on the beach and wondering if there is enough wind for your 9m2 sail – instead, get out there and have fun!
Impress everybody when they see you sailing full speed with only 10 knots of wind and a small sail!
And if there is really no wind at all, read this article: 6 awesome things to do when you are not windsurfing!
Not quite convinced yet? Wait and see…
Benjamin Tillier in paradise