How to start on SUP foil

Submitted on 04-05-2018
Consejos para iniciarte en SUP foil

In a previously blog we talked about the SUP foil. We told you what's SUP foil and what do you need to practice this new trend in water sports and SUP. We presented you some options of SUP foils (boards and fins) of the main brands.

Now we go up one more step and we focus to solve the doubts about how to start in SUP foil, how to use it and the best way to enjoy the experience of flying on the waves. If you are the lucky owner of a SUP foil system, or maybe you are thinking about to buy one Stand Up Paddle foil pack, the following information will be interesting for you.

In this text, we are going to give you some advices to take the first steps with SUP foil, so you can progress gradually and enjoy your favourite sport on a safe and efficiently way.

Dave Kalama practicando SUP foil

Starting to use the SUP foil

The beginnings with the foil could be frustrating. All of us have seen the pictures where Kai Lenny or Zane Schweitzer surf with the SUP foil easily and making awesome tricks, so we want to do the same things like them to squeeze our new "toy". In this moment it's needed to remember you that those images are consequence of a lot of hours training with the foil and the steps to become a good user of it, requires falls and dips, maybe this path is the key that makes the foil a high attractive activity because it's a mix of hard work and pleasure, to become a good SUP foiler. The Stand Up Paddle also in its foil version it can be for everyone too, but need a specific training time.

Prueba el SUP foil utilizando tracción
The first advice that we will give you, although it seems obvious, is that before launching to SUP foil you have mastered the use of Paddle Surf board in waves. If you have not yet practiced SUP surfing, or you do not master this modality enough, wait to have more experience to start with the foil.

In HoeNalu, we recommend you start using your board with some mechanical traction system, such as a motorboat or a water motorcycle, which give you a low speed and you can gradually feel how the board rises over the water. Acquire a certain speed, and after reduce the speed progressively and land like seaplanes. Keep in mind that for the board take off you need to overcome 6 knots of speed, approx 11 km/h, but the foils reach their adequate speed of performance between 8 and 10 knots, that is, from 15 to 19 km/h.

Nuevas sensaciones en las olas con el SUP foil
Said so it seems that it is not easy, but we must bear in mind that when you take a small wave with a paddle board, you move at a speed of approx 10-12 km/h so that the foil will begin to rise without reaching to take off. This small rise will cause the friction of the board with the water decrease, which will be associated with an increase of the speed allowing a total take off of the board.

When the board "has left" the water, the friction is almost nothing, only the mast remains as a braking element, so you can increase the speed to about 20 km/h approx, with little effort. Our recommendation is that you start by feeling how the board rises and put your feet in the right place to have a correct stability. If the front foot is located very far to the nose, you can sink the board into the water and make a catapult effect, but if your feet are too far behind, the board may be thrown upwards. For this reason we recommend you to put one foot on the mast of the board and the other in the center of it, and to control the roll of this one little by little and helped by the boat. The second step with the boat, would be to direct the board to the wave that forms the boat and try to surf in this position with the foil, gradually increasing the speed and even adding turns.
SUP foil en Hawai

The "pumping" in the SUP foil

El SUP foil es muy divertido
​The second step would be to practice what is known as "pumping". In SUP foil, we don't have an element such as a kite or a sail that generates speed and with which we can regulate the pulling force, we must push the board ourselves with a movement of flexion and extension similar to a pumping, which makes the board doesn't lose speed  and keep it elevated on the sea until it "hooks" another wave that push us again and allows to maintain a higher speed than the takeoff, that we have spoken before. This movement seems simple when you see the pros, but it is important to control the ripple of the nose not to lose the point of balance and keeping out  the board from the water to avoid the catapult effect on us.

Maybe this action is the key in terms to enjoy the foil, because you must have the right position on the board, and it varies from a board to another one; and the power that you need to keep the board up to flow with the proper speed and fly over the water. When you control this movement plus the turns with the foil, you can go for a downwind or surf session, catching waves that never have ridden for anyone before, linking one after the other in the serie.

SUP foil: enjoy safely

Practica SUP foil con seguridadLast, we want to remark the importance of safely while you are doing SUP foil. Safely is something that it would be always important in paddlesurf, but in this modality is more important in fact. You must take in account that when you're riding a foil you are up more than 30 cms from the surface of the water, and the speed is higher than traditional SUP, under the board you have a carbon or other hard materials structure that have a lenght of 50 cms or more, so when you fall down the board, try to fall by the side or the tail because if you fall in front of the board, the foil could hit you seriously.

It's necesary that you jump as far as possible from the board when you lose the balance and you feel you are going into the water, and remember what are you riding under your feet when you be near to the shore being careful to stop before the foil could crash with a rock or anything else.

Firsts times could be better if you use some accessories to protect yourself, we strongly recommend a helmet and an impact vest to keep your head and trunk safely. A hit on the ribs could be very painful.

In the beginning, start your foil experience in places or spots where there aren't many people, so you will be relaxed and others too.
Naish SUP foil

These advices are to introduce you in the SUP foil. It's not a dangerous activity but always it's better to be chary in the beginning. Go step by step, and you will enjoy the SUP foil a lot, especially if you live in a place where the waves are not very good or you have a lot of wind, because you could squeeze the system. 

In HoeNalu we have available the products by Go Foil and Starboard, and the foil systems of Naish and Fanatic that you can order on demand now. We will post in the social medias all the info about SUP foil and if you want to learn to ride the foil, we will have a SUP foil course for beginners. If you want more information about a product please feel free to contact us or maybe you can access to the user area to download the catalogs available. Just enjoy and live the moment.

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