When it comes to your first ride it’s important to understand how a foilboard is different from your surfboard or twin tip. To fully understand the foilboard you have to understand that it has two modes: the first is when the board is in the water and the second is when the board is flying and the wing is the only part in the water.
When you first waterstart and the board is still plowing through the water at low speed, a foil behaves like a surfboard for the most part, but with exceptionally large fins. You can use back and front foot pressure to turn the board, but the board will resist a bit more because of the directional stability of the mast and wings. When you ride the board flat in a broad reach you will notice that the board is more effectively steered from side to side through your front foot and hips. Twin tips are largely controlled through modulating back and front foot pressure along with heel/toe pressure because you are trying to control the board’s rail where it contacts the water. When you begin foiling you will soon learn that the inputs you apply to your board are actually affecting the foil which is cantilevered three feet below you.
When you begin to foil-up with the board leaving the water the wing becomes very responsive to three kinds of steering/control input. To understand this better you might think of the foil under the water like an airplane. An aircraft in flight is free to rotate in three dimensions: pitch, nose up or down to climb or descend; yaw, nose left or right about a rotational axis running vertically; and roll, rotation about an axis running from nose to tail that causes the airplane to bank to the left or right
Adjusting pitch is a very important input for foilboarders when trying to keep the board in the air and the foil in the water. Too much back foot pressure and the board pitches up and the wing climbs until it is out of the water; the foil loses all lift and you nose dive the full length of the mast back to the water. Too much front foot pressure and the board pitches downward and the wing descends deeper until the nose of the board smashes into the water.
The yaw is probably the most important input for steering the direction of the foil and is by far the most different from the twin tip and surfboard experience. Yaw is the direction the board travels on a compass and you can change this by laterally moving your foot from side to side and with your hips. Since your hands are typically planted on a control bar that is fixed in its position in a direct line between you and the kite, you can use your relatively fixed upper body position to rotate your lower body and control the directional yaw of the board.
The final input is roll and while it is often combined with yaw to steer the foil it is also a key input when you begin to kite upwind. Since upwind riding requires you to resist against the kite, you will need to use the foil’s pitch to put the board on an angle into the wind—this converts the lateral pull of the kite into upwind travel.
This article is featured in Tkb’s Foil Instructional Guide along with tons more tips and tricks to help speed up your foilboarding progression. Grab a digital copy here: https://www.thekiteboarder.com/product/tkb-foil-instructional-guide/