Aluminum Windfoils vs Carbon Windfoils – Which is better? The Answer…we love them both.
We are firm believers that foiling will connect watersports like nothing else in history. As hydrofoils become more and more popular across kite, wake, windsurf, surf and SUP categories, we are hearing more and more questions from people excited about investing in a foil but unsure which option is the right, fit for their windfoiling needs. One question people ask regularly is the difference between Aluminum Windfoils vs Carbon Windfoils construction and which option they should choose for windsurf foiling. We’ll break down the basics to help clarify the main differences.
- Significantly lower cost
- User-friendly performance
- Affordable multi-mast learning system
- More impact-resistant than carbon
- Better for teaching, loaning to friends
- Modular wing compatible
- Weight adds stability smooths out your ride and makes learning easier
- Weight adds momentum. (that’s a really good thing for ripping jibes on plane)
- More work to carry to the beach
- Masts can bend under heavy load
- Requires regular maintenance to prevent seizing and corrosion
- Less Stiff or, less “slip” than carbon
- Weight: limits jumping and freestyle ability
An aluminum foil favors ease of use and stability over speed and high performance. The largest benefit of aluminum construction is obviously cost. For example, you can get a complete FWind1 foil setup and a three-mast Flight School package for about one thousand bucks. That’s still not cheap, but as foils go, it’s a very affordable price for a great all-around setup. The ability to have different mast lengths for learning progression is HUGE, and it’s really only practical with aluminum construction. Shorter masts are also a good long-term option for foiling in shallow water.
Aluminum is heavier, but the added weight can actually be a good thing. Weight adds stability and makes for a less “twitchy” foil, which is particularly nice for entry-level or free-riders who prefer the description “user-friendly” over “high performance.”
One drawback of aluminum construction is the regular maintenance required to prevent parts from fusing together, corroding and seizing up. The maintenance is simple- a quick rinse after every use and disassembly as well as a protective lube between every few uses. Forget these steps and you could have irreversible consequences.
- Lightweight, easy packing to the beach
- Stiffer and stronger, better for high speed, jumping, and high torque situations
- More “slip” than aluminum
- Less “cavitation at high speeds”
- Fewer maintenance issues
- Less sinking weight, easier for strapless starting
- Requires extensive skill to enjoy
- Higher cost
- More fragile- doesn’t like rocks
- Prone to snapping if it gets tumbled in the waves
- Multi-mast learning system is cost prohibitive
Pretty much anyone who transitions from aluminum to carbon will tell you the same thing- it has a cleaner, faster and more efficient feel as it slices through the water. Top speeds are higher, upwind angles and efficiency is greater and agility is improved. For performance-oriented riders, carbon is the natural progression if you can afford it.
A high-performance carbon foil can feel “twitchy” and super sensitive compared to a heavier aluminum foil. However, once you get a feel for the difference, you’ll describe it as agile and responsive.
We normally only recommend learning on a carbon setup with a full-size mast to advanced riders who know they’ll progress quickly and are willing to take some abuse during the learning process. For everyone else, the aluminum multi-mast Flight School system is by far the best way to learn.
Carbon is stiffer and stronger than aluminum, which is important for aggressive riding, jumping or heavy riders that could bend an aluminum mast. On the downside, carbon is more fragile and susceptible to impact damage.
Maintenance is still important, but carbon is less prone to corrosion than aluminum.
You have to put in the long yards to learn how to windfoil. There is a definite difficult learning curve with both setups. Information is king and it is great to be educated on the differences in both aluminum and carbon foils. We recommend getting into foiling on a budget, learn it, and then improve your gear. Slingshot has a modular wing program making it fun and simple to dial in your foil once you know your riding style.
So how does Aluminum Hydrofoils vs Carbon Hydrofoils stack up for you?