About two years ago Jon Modica and I started towing each other into waves using a kite and two foilboards. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s better than using a jet ski and it allows you to pull into rolling windswell or outer breaks. It works best with lower aspect surf foils because once you are towed up onto foil, the bigger foil wing allows you to keep pumping across windswell while linking small waves together.


To start, you’ll have to attach a tow rope to the back of your tow partner’s harness. Never use anything with a bungee; it’s best to get a piece of webbing 8-12 feet long—a roof rack strap works great. Since it doesn’t take a lot of force to get up on a foilboard, resist the temptation to put a handle on the end of the rope; a solid grip is all you need.

The most challenging part is getting up. I’ve tried two methods and the latter is the easier of the two, but I leave it to you to decide. The first method is to start towing while lying on your stomach. When you reach a speed above planing but before foiling up, you can use one hand on the center of the board to push up to your feet. This can be very challenging and typically is less reliable than the option below.

The second method is to start with your board sunken underneath you, while balancing over your board with your feet in a squatting position. It’s easiest if there’s no tension on the tow rope, or better yet, if your partner passes you the rope once you’re in this position. I typically yell “Go” and the kiter upfront power strokes the kite as I use back foot pressure to get the board out of the water and then onto plane. The person who is being towed should pump onto foil as soon as possible to reduce the load on the tow kiter. The key is that the person up front with the kite should remain off foil until the person in the back is up and foiling. When the person towing is already on foil, it’s harder to manage the kite’s pull when the guy in the back is still waterstarting.

Once both people are up and riding, the challenge is essentially over. It works better if the person being towed stays upwind of the rider with the kite. At that point, you can communicate about turning or tracking down waves, or let go and start pumping rolling river swells like shown here in Hood River or bigger wave days at your local break.

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