Follow these Top 5 Tips for learning to kite foil from an industry insider who already made the mistakes for you.
You’ve heard the expression “In one ear and out the other.” Well, that’s what one “ex-pro” kiteboarder (who shall remain anonymous for his protection) says is what happened to all the advice he was given before learning to foil. After a summer of trial and error, countless pints of water up his nose and several dozen faceplants, he’s now a proficient and very happy foiler. With that in mind, he has some advice of his own, which he learned the hard way, that may save you the same pain and frustration, assuming you have a better attention span than him.
Here are his top five tips:
1. Wait for the right conditions
“I learned this the hard way on my very first foil session, and again on my second. The first day, I was so excited to finally get out and try foiling that I didn’t care about the conditions. It was super windy, and gusty. I went on an 8meter RPM, which I could have used a twin tip and boots that day. I spent more time eating shit and dragging on my board than I did anything else. With so much power, I was out of control as soon as I got up on the foil. The second day I went out it was the opposite- the wind was super light and fluky. The experienced foilers were doing just fine, but I made it out to the middle of the river, crashed, crashed my kite and didn’t have enough wind to get it back up. That was a long swim back!” The right conditions are somewhere in the middle- strong enough to easily relaunch your kite but light enough to stay under control. The ideal range for me was about 15-20knots with an 8m SST.
2. Start with a short mast
“I’m physically fit, a multi-sport athlete and an advanced kiteboarder, so rather than starting with a short mast, I arrogantly went straight to the full-sized 35.5” mast. Those first few sessions were brutal. I got more water up my nose in one day than I did the entire previous season. I did have a full 5/4 wetsuit, helmet, and booties as a cushion, which was a huge help even though it was the middle of summer and I was roasting hot.” I switched back to the small mast and had immediate success. Now that I know how to foil, I still switch back anytime I want to learn an advanced trick.
3. Keep your foostraps as loose as possible
“Using footstraps or not is a topic all in itself, and there are good reasons not to learn with them, but personally I found straps super helpful in getting the board into position and in preventing crashes while I figured out the very different muscle memory and kite control of foiling. The first day I used straps, I learned the very important lesson of keeping them as loose as possible and not wedging your feet very far in. When you crash, the last thing you want is for your feet to get stuck.”
4. Don’t go too far upwind
“When learning to kiteboard, I remember how stoked I was to finally be able to stay upwind. When learning to foil, it’s almost the opposite. Riding upwind was the easy part- it was getting back down that was the problem. My first few sustained rides, I was so excited about actually being able to foil that I didn’t pay much attention to how far upwind I was. When the wind tapered off for the evening, I was a mile from the beach and ended up body dragging all the way back to avoid crashing, crashing my kite and not being able to relaunch.
5. Watch Foil Academy
After my first attempt of kitesurf foiling, I decided to go through the lessons several times. The information, tips, tricks and step-by-step chapters in the course were a HUGE help and a great resource. I knew the basics of what to do and how to do it before went back out. The amount of time I spent on the course save me exponentially more time and energy on the water.”