Learn How to Eliminate Kite Foiling Fear
You’ve done your research and finally pulled the trigger on your new favorite toy, a Slingshot Hover Glide or Ghost Whisper Kite Foil. It’s an epic day, sun is out, wind is perfect and it’s time to ride.
So why do you have this churning in your gut? We are here to tell you that it’s perfectly natural to have some hesitations, and yes, even a bit of fear when it’s time to jump on.
FIVE TIPS TO DITCHING THE FOILING FEAR FACTOR
The time you spend in Foil Academy will go a long way once you on the water with your foil. It’s like studying before a test- you will have less fear about learning because you’ve done your homework and know what to expect. The lessons, tips and trick in all Foil Academy courses (kite, wake, windsurf and surf) will save you time and energy will give you the confidence you need to have fun during the learning process. You may also want to read our blog post on Learning to Foil.
Start with a shorter mast
Starting with a short mast, even if it’s just for short time, is by far the easiest and most effective way to reduce fear and make learning to foil easier and safer. Slingshot was the first brand in foiling to create a multi-mast package, called Foiling Flight School, and it pretty much changed the learning process overnight. No more crazy learning curve, sketchy crashing and frustrating first days. With the Flight School system, pretty much anyone proficient in their sport (kite, wake, surf, windsurf, SUP, etc.) can learn to foil with relative ease. Flight School features 15”, 24” and 30” masts and allows you to progress in length as you get the feel for foiling. A shorter mast is easier to maneuver and way easier to control, which translates to more time getting a feel for the foil, less time wiping out and less severe crashes when you do.
Wear proper protective gear
This one is just common sense. Most of the fear in learning to foil comes from two things: crashing and hitting (or being hit by) the foil. Once you’re a proficient foiler it’s much less of a worry, but until then it’s a great idea to protect yourself properly. This means a helmet, a full-length wetsuit, a lifejacket or impact vest and, if possible, booties.
One of the most common injuries we see in foiling isn’t from a wipeout or high-speed encounter with the foil- it’s from inadvertently kicking it under the water. Booties may be cumbersome, but they go a long way in protecting your feet from the foil. If you use booties and you want to use foot straps, you should consider using foot hooks instead. It’s a personal preference, but doubling up with booties and straps increases the likelihood of getting your feet stuck and crashing at an awkward angle.
Learn how to crash
Crashing is an art, and like any sport, once you learn to do it properly, you’ll be a lot less scared of it happening. A few key tips on crashing with a foil:
- Go with the crash. Once you get off balance, trying to “ride it out” can lead to a worse result. If you feel like you are off balance or heading for a spill, go with the crash while you still have some level of control of where you and your board end up.
- Kick clear of your foil if at all possible, and cover your head as soon as you hit the water.
- Don’t get your feet stuck. If you’re using foot straps, keep them loose while you’re learning so you can kick your feet free when you crash.
- Don’t kick the foil! It’s sharp- it has to be- and when you’re first learning it’s easy to forget it’s down there.
Try behind boat or jetski first, if you can
While certainly not a requirement, learning to foil with the steady pull of a boat or jetski makes the process a lot easier and less intimidating. Once you get the feeling of a foil under your feet, that experience and muscle memory will translate across all foiling disciplines. If you start with a short mast, a calm day and a slow pull, your likelihood of success is very good.