A year ago we caught up with Kai Lenny after his first groundbreaking foilsurfing sessions that reverberated around the world and kicked off a new dimension in riding hydrofoils. A lot has happened since that article went to print so we circled back to get some insight on the state of the foil from the sport’s biggest innovator.
With at least a year under your belt, how has your general view of foilsurfing changed?
Foilsurfing is progressing rapidly; the equipment has evolved so quickly and what you can do with a foil is much more radical than it was a year ago. It’s a lot less sketchy than I previously thought. Over time it’s proven to be much safer and easier to learn, particularly with the new equipment. As far as the surfing community’s reaction, it could have gone one of two ways: it could have been perceived as super dangerous and something no one wanted in the water, but the foil is actually becoming very well accepted by the core community of water people.
What have you learned about foil technology/equipment, both in terms of the wing and the board?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year has been in the refinement of everything and knowing exactly how to put the pieces together to make the riding better. The wings we have now are progressively bigger and more like a Cadillac that drives smooth and docile. I was just testing big wings for Naish and was blown away with how easy it is for people to learn without the intimidation of getting wacked by the wing. It used to be like standing on a bowling ball greased up with Vaseline but now you just need to know how to surf. We have large foils that are great for learning but now I’m using smaller foils to explore the bigger wave realm and am excited to see how big of a wave can be ridden on foils.
Is foilsurfing as versatile as you once thought it to be and where is the future of foilsurfing taking us?
The technology is improving and the range is quite impressive, far bigger than I originally thought. The new foils coming out can be pumped on flat water—I can ride a one-foot tall wave that not even a longboard can make, carving cutbacks and having fun. We’re going to see incredibly sick aerial maneuvers on small waves, but on the other side, the foil could be the key to riding a large wave that otherwise couldn’t be ridden on a surfboard. Foils help you get around the problems you experience on a surfboard like surface tension and drag. I think big wave foilsurfing is one of the realms to watch; a foil can tap into a massive swell before it ever breaks, ride a wave three times the distance and reach speeds that allow you to set up much lower or higher on the wave. You could do a cutback on the backside of the wave and reenter—the foil will allow us to explore riding parts of the wave that have never been ridden before. So really, the foil’s possibilities are endless. You can ride all kinds of conditions ranging from the world’s smallest to biggest waves.
Read about the first time we caught up with Kai Lenny after his groundbreaking foilsurfing sessions kicked off a new dimension in riding hydrofoils here: https://www.thekiteboarder.com/2017/04/infinite-loop/