Kiteboarding Hydrofoil Maintenance Tips
If you’ve clicked through to this blog, we’ve got a pretty good idea that you know what’s coming.
Kiteboarding hydrofoil maintenance IS IMPORTANT.
That’s it! Just like a bike chain needs lube and your skis need a regular tune, your foil needs some lovin’. Though many treat it as a set-it-and-forget component, the nature of the materials in your foil leaves them prone to nasty chemical reactions—and your hardware can get crusty. Nobody has time for that.
For those interested in the cold, hard science of the thing (geeks unite!), read on below. For those itching to get back to foiling freedom, the main takeaway here:
- Loosen your bolts frequently—we’re talking after every session if you’re riding in saltwater. A simple turn or two and a light rinse with fresh water before re-tightening and storing will do the trick.
- A good coating of lanolin oil or marine grease on all areas of your foil and all hardware is a key detail and something that you should do after every few rides. Finally, wrapping your bolts with a layer of Teflon tape helps prevent them from corrosion.
- Bonus points awarded if you stay completely away from sand and dirt while cleaning and maintaining your foil. That will radically prolong its life.
Why does your foil corrode in the salt water? The science of Galvanic and Electrolytic Corrosion
It’s not simply the saltwater-meets-metal aspect that triggers the detrimental reaction in your foil. True, your problems are exponentially less pressing if you’re a freshwater foiler, but the two starring archenemies in this story: carbon and aluminum.
Slingshot Foils are built with a combination of four main material components: an aluminum mast, carbon front and rear wings, fiberglass, and titanium screws. In our case, aluminum is one of the lightest, strongest materials possible and ideal to serve as masts for our foils for both optimal durability and price point.
However, it’s also the instigator of the adverse reactions that screw up your getup. Saltwater acts as an electrolytic bridge between the wet, ignoble aluminum, thereby coaxing it into reacting with its neighboring carbon. Though we’ve thoroughly separated the two with a generous layer of “peacemaking” fiberglass, saltwater invariably travels up the threads in the titanium bolts (this is especially true if even the smallest grains of sand get stuck in the threads) and the crust begins to build. Once the aluminum and carbon are wedded, they don’t like to come apart. Over time, what you’re left with is a bolt that refuses to budge. And a prompt call to our customer service line.
The good news: frequent loosening and flushing with freshwater slow this process nearly to a halt. If you keep up with it, chances are good that your foil will last for years of euphoric ocean sessions.