| Written by Anthony Kennedy |


 You’ve seen the videos on Instagram, maybe spotted in person, and probably heard about your buddy’s attempt at it. Now you’ve decided to go all in to experience flight for yourself and try this whole foiling thing. Currently, you’re most likely struggling to figure out what to call the dang thing as you look it up on Google. Is it hydro foiling, wake foiling, surf air chair stand up thing, tow foiling, foil surfing? Around our lake, we simply call it foiling. Shopping around you may see it in the “tow” category since it is behind a boat, but that normally refers to the tow-in start method for ocean wave foiling, usually behind a PWC or small boat to whip into a wave. We don’t have to get into the other methods like prone or wing foiling just yet, so we’ll keep it simple. 


Let’s start with what you should be looking for in your first foil. If you’re like me, the first thing you will notice is the price of some of these foils and I know you don’t want to spend a ton of money on something that you’re going to outgrow in a couple of weeks or even a single season. To help ease the wallet as you progress, most of the brands are built to be modular in nature, so you can upgrade individual pieces of your set up rather than the entire kit. Setting the price aside for a minute, try to focus on what set up will give you the most success and let you progress your skills the best based on where your skill level is now. This will tell you if you need to start at a true beginner level or if the intermediate level kit is right for you.  

“Yeah no way I’m a beginner I’ve been on the water for 20 years” 

Simply put, if you have never tried to foil in your life, I recommend the beginner set up. You may be thinking to yourself, “Yeah no way I’m a beginner I’ve been on the water for 20 years”. Even if you have learned how to wakesurf, possibly wakeboarded for 20 years, and learned to ski when you were five, this is a completely different sport and should be treated as such. Throw everything you know about water sports out the window and humble yourself back to the novice mindset. The only time I would recommend jumping straight into the intermediate set up is if you have learned to ride a friend’s foil comfortably and are looking for your own.  

 Looking back to when I first tried foiling, I learned on an older-generation Liquid Force foil similar to the current Launch kit. It wasn’t as stable as the LF Launch is now, but it was incredibly more forgiving than some of the ocean-optimized set ups out there. So, what separates those two levels of boards? The key features you want in your beginner set up are a longer board, shorter mast, longer fuselage, a stable front wing, and a stable rear wing. As you can tell by this list, less is more for a beginner.   


Starting with the foil board, a beginner should have something longer and slightly denser. Look for it to be at least 4’5”. The longer board provides a larger surface area for the rider to stand on resulting in a stable platform. The longer board also helps the rider not sink the nose of the board straight down into the water when they begin to lift off the water and unintentionally bring it back down too quickly. This makes the board more forgiving and allows the rider the opportunity to be more successful while learning.    


Working our way down, the mast should be about 24 inches or less, so the rider doesn’t go to high off the water as they’re learning. This will help the rider feel more comfortable and not get off balance when up in the air. The lowest point of the mast connects to the fuselage, which you will want to be longer while starting out. This will be around 54 cm in length. This will translate into your turning radius of the foil. Visualize a much larger and longer commercial airplane versus a small and nimble fighter jet. You want to start off with something that provides nice smooth carves and won't make a sharp sudden turn on you.  

At either end of the fuselage are the wings. The front wing will be much larger than the rear wing, also called the stabilizer. Many factors go into the design of these wings but what you want to pay attention to is the size and shape of the front wing first. The larger the surface area of the wing, which is usually noted after the wing model name (i.e. Horizon 155 = 1550cm2), the more lift it will provide. Beginners do not need a ton of lift no matter how much they weigh. The trick is to grasp the basics of bringing the board up off the water and flying that wing under you. 

 Usually, the beginner wings are flatter, so they stay flat when moving through the water and do not allow the rider to make sharp turns. This keeps the ride very smooth and comfortable. For the rear/stabilizer wings, they are usually made to pair with a specific front wing. The front wings are categorized by the different brands into series, so just make sure you are pairing it to the right series, and you will have the optimal set up.  

  Remember, the key to getting into foiling is riding a set up that will give you the best opportunity for success. It is much better to ride something that you can master than it is to get something that you are only successful with one out of five tries. Personally, I have a much better time when I am up on my feet riding sideways. 

Stay Loyal to the Foil 


February 23, 2024 — Anthony Kennedy

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