The foilboard jibe is essential for transitioning seamlessly from tacks in both directions. While the footwork on a foilboard jibe is the same as a surfboard, speed, timing and foot placement are all much more crucial for a smooth carving jibe. When learning this maneuver it’s best to practice the jibe with the board firmly planted in the water. Once you come to understand how the foil beneath your board behaves you can then attempt the jibe while flying the foil.
Start by riding along comfortably, neither over or underpowered with the bar in the middle of your sheeting stroke so you can pull in for more power or sheet out for depower. It’s best to identify your favored stance (goofy vs. regular) and start with the front foot of your favored stance forward. Much like a surfboard jibe, the order of turning and switching your feet depends on your stance and the particular direction you are heading. You will have a much better chance at success if you complete the turning portion of the jibe in your favored stance.
The kite should be placed about an hour from noon depending on your direction, with the board headed on a normal tack, neither edging super hard upwind or heading downwind. If your favored front foot is forward, begin the jibe by carving a gentle toeside turn, bringing the kite high across the window. When you’ve completed the turn heading toeside in a broad reach is when all the magic happens. Start by inching your feet out of your footstraps just enough to help speed up your footwork. With your kite nearly overhead, turn your board upwind just a little and pull down on your bar—think of it as if you are trying to hang weightless from your kite. In that split second you want to bring your back foot forward. If you have two front footstraps, go ahead and insert your back foot into the empty front strap; if you have just one front strap, place your back foot as close as possible to the center of the board. Without pausing, take your front foot and move it back and with the kite high in the window, slowly inch your feet to where they need to be and then ride away.
If you are riding on your unfavored tack it’s best to switch your feet back into your preferred stance before you carve the board around. You will want your kite about an hour off of noon and just before you switch your feet you will want to gently steer your board into the wind and pull down on your bar to minimize your weight on the board. Bring your back foot forward and your forward foot back. Inch your feet into a comfortable position in the straps and begin to bring the kite across the window while initiating a heelside carve toward your new tack.
As a general rule, an upright stance leads to a greater potential for falling over. If you bend your knees and lower your weight it will be easier to complete your footwork without crashing. Since foilboards are sensitive to your input, your footwork needs to be swift and accurate. If you are having trouble staying up on foil during the jibe you can try this move with a kite downloop to help keep continuous tension on your kite, as this might make it easier not to fall over. A broad low downloop will give you more power and you risk exiting the jibe with more speed than you need. If you keep the kite high with a tight downloop you will have less power for a slower more controlled jibe.
Learning to jibe is an important skill for continuous foiling in both directions. While you may not make your first couple of jibes, with a bit of patience and a ton of practice you will eventually own this move in both directions.
Want more info on choosing the right gear, setting up your foil, getting started, first rides and advanced skills? Grab a digital copy of Tkb’s Foil Instructional Guide.