As this new obsession for flying over water runs wild with just about every brand dipping into the hydrofoil market, we have now established diverse categories of foils for kite surfing, kite racing and just plain foil or SUP surfing as well as different constructions, from high-end carbon to other cheaper composites to make the cost more affordable for your average recreational user or first-time hydrofoil user.
As for foil surfing, racing or beginner foils, there are some main distinctions you will notice. Larger, lower aspect front wings and shorter mast heights are common on surfing and beginner foils. These larger front wings generate a slower, more stable operating speed and feel which is ideal for your first kite foil flights or small wave surf sessions. There are a lot of options between a beginner foil and a racing foil with some brands offering multiple wing variations, many mast lengths and various constructions that are all compatible on the same rig to achieve exactly what the user is looking for.
Racing foils, on the other hand, have smaller, higher aspect front wings and taller mast heights to achieve optimum performance and maximum speed. Some of these foils can be scary fast but also lots of fun for more advanced foil riders. Race foils allow you to point upwind at angles you could never imagine.
When it comes to foil construction, fuselages and masts can come in a combination of carbon fiber and/ or aluminum with many companies using injected molded composites. Many companies are also offering ‘hybrid’ constructions which mix the use of forged carbon for the appendices and fuselage while the mast is forged out of aluminum. This is to achieve a lower retail cost while retaining high performance, so your first foil purchase does not break the bank. When it comes to purchasing foils the construction materials will dictate the cost, durability and overall weight of your package. Durability is an important aspect if foiling around reefs and rocks in shallow water where your wings might be making contact with the bottom. Heavier weight foils may be harder to transport on land and when in the water, tend to take more effort to tip onto edge in the waterstart position. This becomes more challenging for your first strapless sessions, but largely the weight of foil equipment is rarely noticeable while riding.
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.