Smart people learn from their kitesurf foil mistakes; even smarter people learn from the kitesurf foil mistakes of others.
We’re strong believers of that concept when it comes to learning how to kitesurf foil. Some things you just have to learn for yourself, like muscle memory, balance and weight distribution and how the foil feels and behaves as it flies through the water. Other lessons you’d be a lot better off learning from the mistakes of others; like the guy who spent a week of his vacation failing to foil because his stabilizer wing was upside down, or the many who tried to learn with a full-size mast instead of a short one. We’ve put together a list of five mistakes we see people make regularly when learning to kite foil. With a little effort and a bit of luck, you’ll avoid these mistakes yourself on your way to becoming a proficient foiler.
1. Improper foil assembly and maintenance
It may seem obvious, but if you don’t put your foil together properly, it’s not going to perform properly. This means making sure all hardware is fully tightened, all components are oriented correctly and the foil is mounted in the proper position on the board’s track (all the way back for beginners). Maintenance of your foil, especially if you’re in salt water, can not be understated. Rinse it well after each use, and disassemble and lube the hardware and connection points regularly.
2. Not enough wind
Don’t get suckered into super light wind until you know you’re ready. It’s easy to get in trouble in light wind when you have plenty of power while you’re moving, but barely enough to keep your kite
in the air if you stop. When you’re first learning, the best wind is a steady 20 knots or so, with a kite about the same size you would use with a surfboard. You want plenty of power to get you back to the beach with or without a foil.
3. Not enough front foot pressure
This is probably the most common cause of crashing and frustration. In kiteboarding, the stance is back foot heavy- you pop up, lean back and dig that heel edge in to carve up wind. You have to retrain your muscle memory when learning to foil. Too much back foot/heel edge pressure and you’ll rocket out of the water and crash. You want to pop up flat on the board, keep steady front foot pressure and slowly ease back when you’re ready to rise out of the water. As you build speed and generate lift, proper front foot pressure is essential.
4. Starting with a full-size mast
The short mast is one of the greatest learning tools in foiling. Slingshot’s Flight School mast package for the Hover Glide foil features 15”, 24” and 30” masts. This allows you to start small, get the hang of the foil with an easily manageable mast and progress in length as your skills evolve. The difference between starting with a 15” mast and a full size 35” mast is like night and day.
5. Feet too tight in foot straps
Foot straps can be super helpful in learning to foil, but they can also be a hazard. If you get your feet stuck and crash at an awkward angle, you run a much higher risk of injury. If you’re going to foil with straps, keep them as loose as possible and don’t wedge your feet all the way in. You want to be able to kick free when you crash.