WINDFOIL ZONE BLOG

Learn windfoiling with experts: «What’s the best advice you can give to a beginner?»

November 17, 2019

Windfoil Zone has become the meeting place for windfoilers on the Internet, and we are very proud about that. Many of you are asking questions about windfoiling and in particular, windsurfers who are eager to give foil windsurfing a try.

 

There are a couple of questions which come back regularly, and we have decided to turn the microphone towards experienced foilers, both professionals and amateurs. Today we have asked this simple but highly relevant question: «What’s the best advice you can give to a beginner windfoiler?»

 

Here is what the pros say:

 

Antoine Albeau F192

Sponsors: NP, JP, Quiksilver, Sosh, Chris Benz,  Charente Maritime, Ile de Ré, Campings Charente Maritime, MMA Mader.

website: www.antoinealbeau.com / www.ecoledelacouarde.com

 

“Go to my windsurfing school or any other school and take a lesson! It’s a much better way of learning than trying alone. First of all because in a windfoil school you get foil equipment for beginners and you get the chance to try it before you buy a windfoil or a windfoil board.

I was actually the first one to teach how to windfoil in the beginning of the 2000’s, equipped with my Neilpryde Rush Randle hydrofoil!

Last summer, we had 4 windfoils and 2 kitefoils for lessons and to rent.”

 

Antoine Albeau’s own windsurf club is listed in our windfoil directory. Check it out!

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel ARG3

sponsors: Starboard/Severne/Starboard Foils/ Chopper fins

Instagram: @gonzalocostahoevel

 

Picture: Gonzalo speeding at 30+ knots !!

 

I would suggest going with a small sail and to first aim for speed and let the wings of the foil do their job.

 

It’s like a plane - it does not start flying before it has reached a certain speed. If you start flying with too little speed, you will collapse straight away but if you have enough speed, you will stay up on the foil in a very stable and controlled way...

 

So aim for speed!!!

 

Gonzalo was also our guest on the blog after his world tittle in the foil PWA in 2018. Read our interview with Gonzalo Costa Hoevel here.

 

 

 

 Read also our review: 

5 Board Nose Protections For Your Next Windsurf Foiling Session!

 

 Sebastian Kornum DEN24

Sponsors: JP-Australia - NeilPryde

Instagram: @sebastiankornum

 

My very best advice to beginners on foil is not to be afraid of going fast because that is actually what often stabilizes everything. Just let go your fear and lean a bit forward when you feel that the foil starts lifting above the water.

 

Sebastian is also one of the fastest foiler, so he knows what he talking about!

 

 

 Julien Bontemps

World champion and Olympic medalist. Sponsored by Neilpryde and JP.

Facebook: Julien Bontemps

 

I would highly recommend taking a windfoil lesson. We can see that some dedicated windfoil schools are popping-up nowadays. That’s a great way to start.

 

I also think that the new foils entering the market will be more and more accessible, and it will be even easier to learn how to windfoil.

 

It’s of course also really important to have the right protective gear to avoid hurting yourselves during your first session: helmet, impact vest, and wetsuit/drysuit to cover your legs.

 

 

Click here to read about Wildsuits, the eco-friendly wetsuit

 

 

 

William Huppert F330

Sponsors: Duotone, Fanatic, Lokefoil, ION, Ilago communication, surf school St Malo

Instagram: @william_huppert

 

Take your time, don’t force it. Stay upright on your board without hooking your harness and try to feel how the foil behaves with the pressure of your feet. This is a much better way than trying to quickly put your feet in the straps, hook your harness, and try to go full speed at once!

 

The ideal conditions to learn in are 15 knots, no wave, and small sail.

 

Read the full interview with William Huppert here.

Nicolas Goyard F465

Sponsors: Phantom International

Instagram: @Nico.f465


The main advice that I would give to a windfoil beginner would be to not be underpowered at the beginning. To me that’s the most common mistake: you are afraid to get hurt and you rig too small of a sail and can’t even get flying at all. The results end up being a lot of desperate efforts to try to lift the foil.

 

On the contrary, it’s much easier to get planing and feel these fantastic foil sensations when you have enough power in your sail.

 

 

 

 

Fred Morin

Sponsors: Quiksilver

 

 

“First of all, if you are still doubting whether or not you should give it a try, don’t hesitate a minute - windfoiling is simply addictive!

I would also recommend starting with a medium wind rather than light wind. Many beginners want to start with light wind, but that’s a mistake. When the wind is strong enough, you get immediate sensations.

Another tip is to complete your first 2-3 hours in a windfoil school or with a windfoil coach. It will speed up your learning phase.”

 

Fred Morin’s point is another way to say what Nicolas Goyard already mentioned earlier on: Don’t be underpowered; you will get much better sensations if you have power in your sail.

 

 

 Fred Morin @fredmorin_moorea

 

Sam Ross, windfoil coach at Sam Ross water sport school is also stressing this point:

 

To start with, learn in some wind. Ideally over 10 knots.

 

Although windfoiling is great in light winds, if you learn when there is more of a breeze to start, you’ll get a quick feel for it and progress really quickly.

 

After a couple of sessions in a bit more breeze, you’ll be able to start pushing the wind minimums.

 

Check out Sam Ross' video tutorials here

Benjamin Tillier

Sponsors: Taaroa foilsElix, Phantom and Forward Wip

 

First and important advice : keep your hands on the wishbone when you are falling!

 

The ideal conditions are around 15 knots and a sail smaller than 7.0 m2. Choose a spot with flat water and a foil with good lift.

 

A helmet and an impact vest are necessary for your first sessions. Uphaul the sail instead of waterstarting, to avoid sparking the foil with your feet. (Read our review of the best impact vest for windfoiling)

 

Benjamin Tillier wavefoiling (Photo: Valerie Mouren)

 

 

Gediminas Gresevičius LTU 76

Sponsors: Starboard, Severne

 

Before learning how to windfoil, you should first be confident riding with foot straps and harness on your conventional windsurf board. If you know how to plane in the foot straps and hooked in your harness in a straight line, you can start learning windfoiling.

Choose the right conditions and the right equipment: Light wind and flat water for your first foil sessions. 8-12 knots would be perfect.


Take a wide board and a small sail. 85-90cm board with 7.0-8.0m sail will match each other perfectly for light wind conditions. If you have a freeride foil with big wings, you can even consider a smaller sail for that wind.

 

 

Be careful with the foil the first time. A foil is much longer and heavier than your fin. It is hard to take the sail and the board all together to the water. So bring them separately and assemble them in the water, with the foil pointing up. Remember also to stop your board long before the beach when you come back, not to touch the foil on the seafloor.

 

In regular windsurfing;  it’s common to lean backwards to balance out the drag of the sail. When in windfoiling that’s not necessary. Get some speed and put your front foot in the strap. Keep the speed and plane as you used to. When you are ready to fly, push vertically on your back foot and pull the front foot up a little bit. You can also use the swell as a ramp to feel the front wing lift power.

 

If the board does not fly, push harder. Have your back foot near the center line of the board to try to control your flight. Do not lean backwards too much. Try to find the balance. No need for a harness at this stage. After a few days you’re no longer a beginner!

 

Tez Plavenieks of Winsurfing UK Mag

 

Go somewhere away from the crowds, so as to not interfere with others when learning, and persevere.

 

Also don't try and run before walking.

 

With a little time, competent foiling will be nailed!


Read also Tez's great tips:

"Getting up and flying in light airs"

 

Picture: Tez planing on his Bug windfoil

 

 

Philippe Caneri of Horue:

 

“Clearly, I would recommend choosing a hydrofoil which enables you to start flying quickly rather than a race windsurf foil which is meant to go fast.”

 

Philippe’s recommendation is exactly in line with Horue’s vision of windfoiling, where the goal is really to have fun on the water. Both the Evo H10 and the Vini are developed with this idea in mind.

 

Picture: Philippe jumping with Horue Vini and Horue Femto board

Renaud Barbier of Mantafoils

 

“I would recommend buying a strong foil, but also a foil which can be upgraded to a more performant version later on. For a beginner who wants to have fun, an alloy foil is more than enough. Carbon foils with race masts only offer lighter weight and a slightly higher top speed.”

 

 

Renaud’s piece of advice is also a good one. It’s true that when you first get started, you will have enough fun and challenge to go back and forth flying on your board. No need for a top premium hydrofoil for that.

 

However, after acquiring some experience, you may be glad to be able to “pimp” your foil with a better wing or mast. This is exactly what the Mantafoil Mono foil offers, an all-round foil with different set-ups and with the possibility to replace your front wing with a carbon race wing, or change the height of the mast.

Alan MadLoop Takapuna

Owner of Madlood windsurfing school

 

Don’t hesitate to try 3 or 4 different foil brands. There is a big difference between freeride foiling and race foiling.

 

When you are learning, let the board come up to speed. Don’t try to force it to fly.

 

15 knots is an ideal learning breeze.”

 

 

 

Picture: Alan and his son Matthew

 

We have also asked a couple of experienced foiling amateurs, Øyvind and Bryn, to share their best windfoiling tips:

 

Øyvind Birkeland:

Norwegian foiling addict who rides with Neilpryde foil and sail

 

My advice would be to spend loads of hours on the water. It will be fun right from the first minute, but unless you are a very skilled windsurfer, you need time to master it.

 

Also, you need power, and don’t worry about going out in a little strong wind. 12-20 knots is fine. My first time was with 5.4 and 20 knots. Put on a helmet and go for it. Crashing is still more fun than desperately trying to get going with pumping.

 

 

Harness and foot straps provide better stability and I would recommend short lines as well. Optionally, you can remove the rear foot straps. Don't put too much thought into trimming at the beginning. If you cannot get flying on the foil, a slight adjustment on trim will not solve it. It will be more important when you get more experience and want more comfort, stability at speed, and upwind angles.

 

For equipment, I would recommend to start with a low cost and beginner friendly, alu foil. When you truly master that and if you want more performance, you can sell it and go for a high performance foil like the Neilpryde F4 foil.

(Picture: Øyvind cruising in the Norwegian fjords)

 

 

Bryn Kaufman

Avid wind foiler from Kailua Hawaii. Rides with Naish foil, JP board and Sailworks windfoil sail

 

Choose a wide board, helmet, and a beginner foil such as Naish or NP Aluminum.

If they have shore break they have to think carefully about entry and exit. I have shore break, I do not beach start anymore, I swim past the break and uphaul.

 

I use a mechanical mast base so it is easy to disconnect the sail in the water, and I walk my board in and then retrieve the sail. When separated it is really easy to carry both through the break. When not separated it is very difficult to do.

 

 

The best advice I got as a beginner was to “taxi”. Another rider said: “just come up inches above the water at a time. Don't worry about coming all the way off. Don't worry if the board skims the water a lot, just get the feel of the board out of the water with it very low. Then as you get comfortable you can go higher as needed.”

 

I would suggest setting the foil rear wing for maximum lift at first and keep the speed slow if possible.

 

Also research pumping the sail. As you know it's a great skill to have as you might be able to use a smaller sail which will be more comfortable when up.

My final advice is don't rule out a dedicated wind foil sail. It is making a huge difference for me for stability, wind range, and my overall enjoyment is way up with those sails.

 

 

To summarize, here are the top 5 pieces of advice given by our foiling experts we would highlight:

 

1- Start out in a windfoil school or with a coach

 

2- Don’t be afraid of speed, it is necessary to get flying easily: moderate wind (15 knots is ideal) and a big enough sail will give you enough power to feel the lift of the foil and keep flying.

 

3- Choose a low cost entry foil to start with, and upgrade later on if needed.

 

4- Wear adequate protective gear: helmet, impact vest, and wetsuit/drysuit. Be careful!

 

5- Take your time, don't run before walking. Spend loads of hours on the water, this is the best way to learn!

 

 

If you have any other advice to give to windfoil beginners, feel free to use the comment box below!

READ ALSO ABOUT WILDSUITS, THE ECO-FRIENDLY WETSUIT

 

 

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