Monday, April 3, 2017

Some Thoughts about Foiling


Windsurf foiling is gaining momentum and is finally becoming quite interesting.  The industry is shaking itself out and things are drawing to a head in the areas of foil, board and dedicated sail design.

What I see is two camps approaching the market from different places.  On the one hand you have companies such as Horue, adapting kiting kit for windsurf foiling and on the other side you have Neil Pryde and JP developing equipment from a windsurfing perspective.

Here is one of Horue’s three boards - the Tiny.  

It is only slightly longer than 2m and comes with a Select windsurfing fin for use when not foiling.  I doubt that it would be particularly good for freeride blasting with windsurf kit. (?)

Horue sells two more dedicated models for advanced foilers who are not interested in a windsurfing application for their boards.  These are the Tiny Pro and the Slant.  I like the sloped deck of the Slant (looks comfortable to me).  Horue also sell two dedicated foiling sails which they claim are light and perfect for the job.

Representing the other side of the movement are Pryde and JP who have developed two purpose built foiling boards, two highly evolved foils (together with F4 - the fin guys) and a fast, purpose built foiling sail called the Flight.

Here is a video of a question and answer session hosted by Sebastian Kornum who has been the rider on the JP/NP development team.

His responses reveal how much development has gone into the program.  The guys are serious!  

Note also, when he explains that the boards are not really designed for windsurfing.  When learning, you spend so much time smashing the front of the board onto the water that they have had to shape the under-side to ensure that when it smashes down, the rails do not bite and it does not suck onto the water at speed causing catastrophic face plants.  This shape of course is not optimised for windsurfing so the foiling board is basically a buoyancy tank to get planing quickly and provide a solid base for sail and foil.

Here is Pryde’s foiling sail in action.  A beautiful thing and something I’m sure we could use on a fast freerace windsurfing board with a slightly upright stance and waist harness (Futura, Patrik F-Race, Goya Bolt, Severne Fox etc).

If you have not yet done so, please have a look at Pryde’s two F4 foils – one in aluminium and the other in carbon.  Very nice!

The problem I have with both of the above camps, is that their foiling boards cannot really perform the dual functions of windsurfing and foiling.  I favour the approach of AHD and Goya who give us stunning windsurfing models which happen to have reinforced fin boxes, suitable for foils.  

This provides the opportunity to try a foil with your proper windsurfing board.  The learning damage could be avoided with a strap-on polystyrene system (maybe a protector of wedge shaped bumpers under the nose to both push the board up onto the plane and protect the underside when it smashes down).  

As soon as you are proficient, unstrap the protector and pass it down the line to the next guy in the same way you handed your training wheels down to your little sister when you mastered the two-wheeler.  

Using this approach, you have saved on the cost of a board and the board you do have, can multi-task.  Bargain!

Good winds