If you have ever been interested in surfing and all its variants, then you’ve probably come into contact with foil boarding.
This type of boarding looks simply amazing, it doesn’t sit on the water like a normal surfboard, rather rising up out of the water, almost as if you are floating.
It might be hard to even believe at first. How do these surfboards keep you so high above the water? Well, the way the board is curved is an important part of the equation.
It states that basically because the downward acceleration of water is actually what causes it to remain upright.
This principle works much the same with drones that stay in the air. The propellers accelerate air downwards, which is what allows it to stay balanced in the air.
As you’ll see from any footage of surfing foils, you’ll see the surfboard moving in a kind of bobbing motion that accelerates the board further across the water.
So how does a foil board actually work? What is the history and the science behind these boards? Is having a foil board preferable to having a regular surfboard?
What is the difference between them? Where can you find one of these boards? How much do they cost to purchase?
Well, if you want the answer to all your foil boarding questions, then you should keep reading. We have all the info that you need, so that you can consider yourself a veritable expert when you are finished.
We’ll give you an in-depth history of this board and why it was developed. Then if that whets your appetite, we’ll point you towards some of the best foil surfboard brands we have on the market.
Foil Surfboards: The Undisputed Truth
As opposed to the usual gliding, on-the-water motion that you might get on a regular surfboard, the foil surfboard behaves and moves a little differently.
If you take some time to watch any Youtube videos of foil surfboards, you see that the users bend their knees, almost cranking the board to the surface.
On the top, this surfboard looks a little like a regular surfboard in that it is in an oval type of shape.
However, the length of the board can be a lot shorter than a regular surfboard, although this all depends on the type of board that you decide to buy.
There are as many types of foil surfboards as there are types of regular surfboards.The difference between this and the regular surfboard is how it moves through the water.
This foil surfboard will allow you to float over the water, giving you that kind of gliding feeling that you can’t get with a normal surfboard.
It also is a lot more challenging to maneuver, having to pump the board with your feet to achieve ‘liftoff’.
The board itself might be slightly more clumsy to carry than a regular surfboard, probably owing to the wings that are mounted underneath it.
These wings are what get it above the surface of the water, allowing you to glide smoothly across the surface, either hands-free or clutching onto the handles of a windsail.
One of the best things about a foil surfboard that gives it that advantage over a regular surfboard is the fact that you can use it pretty much anywhere.
Whether it is cresting on waves or the still waters without any ripples, you can be sure that you’ll have everything that you need for a smooth cruising experience.
So why exactly was this added to the traditional surfboard and how does it affect the propulsion of the board itself?
Foil Surfboards: A Complete History
This type of sport, also known as ‘hydro-foiling’, first came about in the 60s.
These kinds of boards were invented by an aeronautical engineer called Bob Woodward, and the early design of it actually featured a seat that was attached to the main body of the upper surfboard.
Some of these seated surfboards are still used in competitive surfing competitions.
The famous surf boarder Laird Hamilton was the first one to remove the seat and strap himself to the board with his feet in the similar manner of a surfboard.
The straps are because you have to pump the foil surfboard to a certain degree in order to get it to lift off the water at all.
There were also a few pioneers of the foil surfboard that kickstarted the whole foil surfing wave.
One of these groups was The Strapped Crew, who really popularized the use of foil boards. Soon, everybody was taking to the waves with a foil surfboard, which really led to a surge of sales in foil boards.
Top Foil Board Brands
Now that we’ve given you a general overview of what you should be looking for in your next foil surfboard, let’s have a look at some of the specific surfboard brands and what they can offer you in terms of board design and capabilities.
Some of these brands are the best in the game, so you’ll have everything that you need for a decent board.
OUR TOP PICK
First, we’re going to look at the brand Slingshot, which provides great foil surfboards for beginners.
These boards are great for paddling, giving you that solid underfoot that you’ll need to be able to stay afloat and practice things like basic balancing and moving across the surface of the water.
You can easily paddle through the smaller waves with this surfboard, it is a very nimble board that is able to gather some speed when you start pumping on it.
It has a very durable S-rail, which will be very important when you are cut through the water, coming in varying lengths which are great for adapting to different surfing styles.
- These boards have great S-rails that make them great for paddling and getting your balance when you first get on the board.
- This is a great board for beginners, offering your support, stability and maneuverability, which will be very important when you are on the choppy waves.
- These boards are made to be very compact, you can carry them easily from your truck to the beachfront with very little issue.
- These boards can seem a little pricey for anyone who is looking to pick up their first board. You might want to opt for something a little lighter for your first few months.
This brand is very popular and is highly rated by a lot of surfing professionals, which is very important when it comes to buying reliable equipment for your needs.
You can buy plenty of SUP boards, soft top boards and paddle boards from Naish. These are designed with plenty of heights and weights of surfers in mind.
You can get plenty of carbon boards, which are lightweight and extremely resilient to the battering that you can get from the elements.
These boards might come at a slightly higher price, but if you are looking to progress from an intermediate surfer to a pro, then we would recommend that you grab one of these boards.
- You can get a range of amazing carbon boards with the Naish brand. If you are looking for a brand that will give you everything that you need for choppy and still waters, then we would recommend going with this one.
- This is a highly reputable brand, if you ask anyone who is into foil surfboarding what their favorite brand of surfboard is, the chances are you will hear the name Naish.
- This is great for surfers of varying weights and heights. If you are larger than the average surfer and are struggling to get the right surfboard for your needs, then Naish might be a good place to start.
- The price - again, these boards are a little steep, but if you take your surfing seriously, you won’t mind paying the extra for a surfboard that will last.
This next brand of foil surfboards is designed with an amazing performance in mind, coming in a wide range of shapes and sizes that will allow you to perform a variety of moves on the surf. The masts of these boards are made from the highest-grade carbon fiber, which will be great if you are looking to gain some speed.
These boards are built to last you for a very long time, giving you everything that you need for a decent ride for years to come. You can be sure that your board will be able to last you for a very long time, which will be important to hardcore surfers.
- These boards are made from carbon fiber and are super resilient. This will definitely appeal to surfers who like to perform tricks and flips.
- These boards are suitable for surfers at all different skill levels, whether you are just hitting the surf for the first time or you’ve been boarding for years.
- These boards might be a little too rigid for newbie surfers.
Foil Surfboard Buying Guide
Now that we’ve given you a brief history of the foil surfboard, let’s look into the design, piece by piece, and what makes it so special for your waterboarding.
The things you’ll have to be conscious of is that there are as many brands of foil surfboards as there are of regular surfboards, they are more than just a subset of surfing, rather a class of surfing in their own right.
The design of your hydro-foil surfboard will very much determine what you can and can’t do on your board.
The amount of surface area that you have on your board will determine the amount of lift that you’ll get off the surface of the water, as well as the moves that you’ll be able to perform.
If you want a decent foil board that will be able to navigate the more tricky surfboards, then we would certainly recommend that you get one with a thicker profile.
This will give you a lot more lifting power, even when you are cranking it at a much lower speed. The thickness of the board itself is traditionally measured in centimeters.
If you want to get a faster speed on your foil board, then we would definitely recommend that you get one with a much thinner profile.
However, the thinner you have your board, then the harder it will be to control when the water gets dicey. You might also need more speed to get your board to lift up into the air.
If you want to be pulled by a kiteboard, then you’ll want to have something that is a lot thinner, as this will be better for gliding through the water and giving you everything that you need for a more consistent and less bumpy ride.
However, you’ll have to be aware that this board will not be that easy to negotiate.
These are the things that you’ll see underneath the board that you stand on, almost like the rudder of a boat.
The shape of your board will be either high or low aspect ratio and will be determined by the wingspan and the chord that attaches the two parts.
If you have higher aspect wings, then these will be better for controlling boards that are moving at a much higher speed. These types of wings are also better for pumping and gaining greater momentum from your board.
The one downside is that they can drop into the water a lot quicker, which means a lot more work for you and your legs.
You can often get flat and curved wings. The curved wings will offer you a lot less stability than the flat variety, although you will be able to better control your movements in the water.
Surfers who like to carve up the waves will definitely prefer to have curved wings.
If you have flat wings, then you can expect to have much more upward lift, which will be very important if you just want to get some decent speed and move in a straight line with your board.
This will operate in much the same method as a regular surfboard, giving you everything that you need for a decent momentum.
Most foil surfboards also have stabilizers on the back of the board, which will help you to navigate through the water.
You can apply a lot more pressure to the back of the boards, with your foot resting on the back, which will give you a much easier ride and help you balance out the whole movement of your board.
If you have tail wings on the back of your board, then you’ll be able to easily turn and to pump your board.
We would recommend getting a board like this if you are a beginner or if you have teenagers who want to get into foil surfboarding but might not have built up the muscle or the experience to surf the waves.
You might not think it, but the length of your mast will really determine how you feel on the top of your board. If you have a longer mast, then you will be able to gain much more clearance.
This will help you to achieve much longer turns, which will help you to avoid rocks and gain much more momentum for the harder moves.
The one drawback of having a very long mast is the fact that you’ll need to surf through much deeper waters, which might be tricky if you do not live anywhere near the ocean or a deep lake.
You’ll also need plenty of power to keep your board above the water to an adequate degree.
Another difficult thing about controlling these longer masted foil boards is that they might be slightly unwieldy to control. This will leave you with some difficulty in trying to get it launched off the surface of the water.
The shape and the thickness of your board will certainly determine how easy your board will be to handle as well as how much speed you’ll be able to pick up.
This is much the same task as picking up a board that you can use for regular surfing.
You’ll want to think about every aspect of your surfing, from paddling to catching large waves to just simple balancing and turning.
The thickness of your board will affect the speed and the power you have when you are cranking the board up to the max.
Another important aspect you’ll want to be thinking about is what material your board is made from.
Having a heavier board will give you plenty of durability in the water, however, if you are looking for that much more nimble movement, then you’ll want something under 3 inches in thickness.