Foil Boards—What’s going on here?

kiteboarding foil board
James McGrath an aspiring pro rider from Jupiter. Photo credit: James McGrath.

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]oil boards have become a huge part of kiteboarding. To the untrained eye, it almost looks as if they are gliding through the air for minutes at a time. When you first see it, you will ask yourself, “what is going on here?”

These boards consist of three main parts, the board, keel/mast and foil. The foil itself consists of its own three sections, the front wing, fuselage and rear wing. The keel/mast is usually about two-to-three feet long and connects the foil to the board. When the rider starts he/she uses the planing surface of the board itself. As the rider picks up speed, the foil begins to create lift and raise the board and rider out of the water. When done properly, only the foil and lower section of the keel will remain in the water. Meanwhile the board and rider will be elevated a foot or two out of the water. This can be a complicated task to master as it requires balance in all the right places to get the foil to remain in the water without it breaching the surface or diving deep and bucking the rider off of the board.

Foil boards have become a huge part of kiteboarding.
Foil boards have become a huge part of kiteboarding.

Before learning this version of the sport, I recommend at least six months to a year of consistent kiteboarding on a normal twin tip. You should be able to classify yourself as an advanced intermediate. Mastering the foil takes perfect kite control so that you may focus strictly on the foil and your own safety. The foil can be very sharp and you would not want to get dragged or pulled onto or over it. A masterful kite flyer will understand how to use the kite to avoid this mistake. Once you are ready, seek advice and lessons as there are some non-obvious things that must be addressed to save you both time and keep you safe while learning.

Once mastered, the foil is arguably the most efficient object in the water. This efficiency has changed kiting by allowing riders to enjoy the sport in winds as low as six knots. As a comparison, a normal twin tip (similar to a wakeboard) needs at least 10-12 knots to perform properly. Now that four knot gain may not seem like a huge advantage to those of you unfamiliar with wind sports, but its huge. Think of the Florida summer when winds do not often exceed 12 knots. These foils allow kiters not only to get out, but to get out and have a good time!

Foils are fun, efficient and have changed the sport but what really makes them magical, is that they are almost inaudible and seem to float through the air. It’s like riding Marty McFly’s hover board across the ocean. However, it’s not science fiction, its real!