Delta was one of the original custom foil builders in North America that was crucial to kickstarting the early foil kiting scene in the Americas. As a major innovator in the kite, surf and now winging hydrofoil niches, Delta’s founder and chief designer, George Hradil walks us through the key elements of hydrofoil performance and the latest products in the 2022 Delta lineup.
Delta Hydrofoil was started in 2013. At that time, there were no major manufacturers of hydrofoils in the US, and I was one of the first to purchase a performance foil from France. I was interested in kite foil racing, but all the competitive foils were made in France and there was a significant wait time to get them. I decided to start Delta to make kite race foils in the US. As an engineer interested in aviation and sailing, my technical background was good, but I had a lot to learn about designing hydrofoils. It took time and a lot of prototypes, but I eventually figured out what makes a good hydrofoil. In 2018, I shifted my focus away from race foils to surf and freeride foils. My work with race foils influenced my surf and freeride designs, which had thin wings and were highly streamlined in general. Typical surf foils at that time had very thick wings and not much attention was given to reducing the drag of the foil. In 2020, wing foiling arrived, with different foil requirements to allow good upwind performance. This brought about the adoption of high aspect wings with long spans.
What is Delta’s patent pending Reflex Foil Technology and what does that do for riders of various skill levels?
The Reflex wings have a trailing edge that is curved slightly upward, which is like having a stabilizer or rear wing built into the main wing. The Reflex Wings are pitch stable, have a broad speed range and are fast for their size. The 1500 Reflex wing can easily go over 25mph, which is fast for a wing that size. These wings are also excellent for learning to foil. For those looking for a challenge, the reflex technology can be ridden as a monofoil, meaning you can take off the stabilizer and ride them without a rear wing.
What are the key design elements and materials utilized in the Delta hydrofoil system and how does that translate to performance?
My top design priority is to achieve low drag. Delta foils are highly streamlined and designed to go through the water with minimum effort. Another priority is stiffness. If a foil is wobbly or flexible, the board movement will not be transferred to the foil in a predictable way and the foil will be difficult to control. Additionally, the foil should be light. In order to achieve these goals, the wings, fuselage, stabilizer and top plate are made from prepreg carbon with a high-density foam core. We have an 85cm prepreg carbon mast and four different lengths of aluminum masts. Our aluminum masts are made with a thinner wall thickness and are the lightest in the industry. The aluminum and carbon masts are interchangeable so that customers can easily upgrade from an aluminum setup to carbon or can buy aluminum masts of different lengths if needed.
While there is a wide array of wings to choose from for all the foiling disciplines, what are the kite specific wings in the Delta lineup?
Clearly kiting requires much smaller wings than surfing or winging, so the smaller wings we offer are best for kiting. There has been a trend towards larger wings for kiting and I think that is fine. The 1500 Reflex is a fantastic wing for kiting, but I would also encourage kiters to consider smaller wings like the Delta 860 or the 890 Reflex, which are extremely nimble and fun to ride.
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