What is Kite Foiling?

Kite foiling, also known as foilboarding, hydrofoil kiteboarding, foil kitesurfing, is not as complicated as it sounds. It’s simply kiteboarding with the addition of a hydrofoil under the board.

The foil allows you to kite along above the surface of the water. Kite foiling is speedier, as the foil cuts through the water with minimal drag. Foil fans love the quiet experience of riding along elevated above the surface of the water. You can have a smooth ride, even when it’s choppy out.

The hydrofoil itself is not a new invention.The technology has been around lifting boats since the early 1900s.

Kite foiling has been around since the beginning of kitesurfing’s short history, but has been receiving more attention lately because of its use by pro kiters.

I have to admit, it does look cool.

How does a hydrofoil work?

Without getting too deep into the physics of it, a hydrofoil is shaped in such a way that water rushing through it gives it upward lift.

While this looks crazy and futuristic, it’s the same technology that gives aeroplanes lift.

A plane’s wings are curved and tilted so that air passes over it faster than under it. This causes a decrease in pressure of the air above the wing, and, as a result of the pressure difference, upward lift is generated. The plane can take off or move higher in the air.

This relies on Bernoulli’s principle in fluid dynamics, which states this counterintuitive pressure/speed relationship.

In a hydrofoil, the same thing is happening, only in water.

The hydrofoil cuts the water and forces water to flow faster over the foil than under it, causing the pressure change that gives your boat or board lift out of the water.

The faster you go, the more lift the foil generates.

For foil kiters, this translates to a water start where you begin to levitate as you gain speed and the foil works its lift magic. It’s a pretty crazy sensation. Some even say it feels like flying.

Kite foiling takes a bit of learning, even if you’re a good kiter. Be patient and commit to learning it as you would any other new thing. Expect to look like a beginner again and have some wipeouts.

While you can ride a foil with straps, many recommend going strapless to avoid injuring yourself if the foil is diving down or behaving unpredictably. Beforehand, you might practice on a foil-less board strapless to gain confidence.

You’ll need to put more weight in your front foot than you’re used to. As well as pushing with it, you need to lean your weight forward. It’s far better to nose-dive with a foil than have it jump up behind you.

You also need to put pressure on your toes to keep the board flat. Try not to edge with your heels too much.

A great thing about foiling is that you can ride in light wind conditions. When you’re learning, though, it’s best to start with plenty of wind to keep your kite stable in the air, but don’t overpower yourself. Maybe take a kite size down from what you would normally take in that wind.

Most of all, have fun and enjoy the crazy flying sensation that kite foiling offers!

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