Learning the basics?

JLW

Billy Hamilton status
Jul 7, 2004
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So here's the deal. I'd really like to try out foiling.

One of the most common things I hear is that learning to foil behind a boat is the fastest way to learn the basics.

I don't have any friends with a boat, though. And I don't know where to rent a foil. And the logistics of that whole operation seems like a pain.

I found this service near where I live that basically teaches you how to ride on a motorized foil board called an efoil. I don't have any interest in doing this motorized foil thing long term, but maybe it could be a good way to get an understanding of the basics, so that when I buy an actual foil and ride some waves on it, the learning curve isn't so steep? Or will the skills of riding a motorized foil not transfer over to riding waves with a foil?

Here's the service, for anyone wondering. https://sanfranciscoefoil.com/
 

Hdip

Michael Peterson status
Apr 23, 2005
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Yup an Efoil will definitely help. The reason that it helps so much is flying a foil in flat water is quite predictable, so that makes it easier. Flying a foil in the curve of a wave is super unpredictable at first. So it makes it seem harder and more dangerous than it actually is.

Since you're up where you have tons of wind. Do you have any interest in wing foil? It's a very good way to learn also.

I'm of the opinion lately that foiling is like kiting. Pay to take at least 2, maybe 3 lessons. This will let you learn faster and let you use someone else's gear. Then you can buy more appropriate gear and have an idea if you like the sport of not. It's money well spent.

A quick google shows me.

Boat lessons. Taught out of treasure island. https://www.101surfsports.com/index.php/foiling

San Mateo lessons.

The US owner of AXIS foils who lives up there in the bay area recommends.

https://www.kitethebay.com/ Jon von Tesmar
 

bluemarlin04

Michael Peterson status
Aug 13, 2015
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What will help you learn foiling is just logging your time.

Give yourself 20 hours of trying to learn. If you don't understand by then- reevaluate.
 
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juandesooka

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Jan 12, 2009
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are you seeking surf (prone) foil or sup foil?

Assuming surf/prone, how much surfing experience do you have? I think being a competent surfer, able to popup on a shortboard is pretty much crucial -- without that, my advice would be learn to surf first.

Same with SUP, though overall I think it's easier to learn than prone. Being able to push into a wave and drop in is necessary. Early on, I found it helpful to sup surf my board before putting the foil on -- so the drop in isn't so foreign.

Agree with above about boat foiling: my reckoning is 1 hour boat practice = 10 hours surf practice, in terms of focusing on how the foil works, how to get up and stay up, how to wipeout safely, etc. Those first few hours in the surf, there's so much going on at once, it's quite overwhelming and kinda scary too.

Also agree with Hdip about the benefits of using other people's gear at first. For sup and wing, the gear you want to learn on is quite different than the gear you will use when intermediate. Maybe less difference for surf/prone, at least up to advanced intermediate stage, when you will start to throw incredible money at potentially impossible dreams :)
 
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JLW

Billy Hamilton status
Jul 7, 2004
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are you seeking surf (prone) foil or sup foil?

Assuming surf/prone, how much surfing experience do you have? I think being a competent surfer, able to popup on a shortboard is pretty much crucial -- without that, my advice would be learn to surf first.

Same with SUP, though overall I think it's easier to learn than prone. Being able to push into a wave and drop in is necessary. Early on, I found it helpful to sup surf my board before putting the foil on -- so the drop in isn't so foreign.

Agree with above about boat foiling: my reckoning is 1 hour boat practice = 10 hours surf practice, in terms of focusing on how the foil works, how to get up and stay up, how to wipeout safely, etc. Those first few hours in the surf, there's so much going on at once, it's quite overwhelming and kinda scary too.

Also agree with Hdip about the benefits of using other people's gear at first. For sup and wing, the gear you want to learn on is quite different than the gear you will use when intermediate. Maybe less difference for surf/prone, at least up to advanced intermediate stage, when you will start to throw incredible money at potentially impossible dreams :)
I'm pretty experienced with surfing. I've been doing it since I was about 11 (I'm 33 now).

If anyone wants to sell me their old beginner gear in the SF Bay Area, let me know!
 

JLW

Billy Hamilton status
Jul 7, 2004
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Yup an Efoil will definitely help. The reason that it helps so much is flying a foil in flat water is quite predictable, so that makes it easier. Flying a foil in the curve of a wave is super unpredictable at first. So it makes it seem harder and more dangerous than it actually is.

Since you're up where you have tons of wind. Do you have any interest in wing foil? It's a very good way to learn also.

I'm of the opinion lately that foiling is like kiting. Pay to take at least 2, maybe 3 lessons. This will let you learn faster and let you use someone else's gear. Then you can buy more appropriate gear and have an idea if you like the sport of not. It's money well spent.

A quick google shows me.

Boat lessons. Taught out of treasure island. https://www.101surfsports.com/index.php/foiling

San Mateo lessons.

The US owner of AXIS foils who lives up there in the bay area recommends.

https://www.kitethebay.com/ Jon von Tesmar
Wow. Thank you SO much!
 

juandesooka

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Jan 12, 2009
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SF...yup...,.the kite the bay guys look good to get connected with!
I am sure it won't be cheap, but you will get ahead of this.

Being already competent prone surfing, you just ideally need some orientation with what a foil feels like. 1 or 2 boat sessions, then you can be up and riding basically in your first few prone attempts, and basic competence 5 or 6 sessions in. Without boat, it'll be more, as the middle stage will be harder, in between getting to your feet and getting up on foil in control.

You should be able to find basic starter gear pretty cheap on SF craigslist, fairly active used market (we troll for gear there and LA, way up here in Canada). My experience was you're better off to have a too small foil to start than too big. A big foil makes for uncontrolled lift while popping up. Best way to learn is to catch white water, be on your belly a second to get control, pop up, then do the little ollie to get lift. Better to be aggressively ollie'ing to get up and maybe have to pump to stay up, versus having the wild beast bucking you off a second into every ride. Same with the boat, I drive people purposely too slow with a smaller foil so they can't get up with trying really hard to....get the feel for controlled ascent and descent first.

Those first few sessions in the surf are kind of scary, out of control. Strongly recommend a helmet. I considered a face visor, as that foil comes up quick in the dreaded taco/switchblade wipeout (get your hands up quick). At the start, once things start to go wrong, don't try to adjust, jump off and away, as you will initially adjust wrong and bring the foil up into you. As a surfer, you are used to weighting and unweighting the board's rails, but with foil you have to project your feet movements down 2 feet to adjust a rail that is 2 feet below the surface (think of your legs as stilts down the mast to the foil wings). This means your instinctive surfing balancing is entirely wrong and will cause horrible wipeouts until you learn not to ;-)

And then once you've got it, a world will open that up that is mind bogglingly awesome!
 

Hdip

Michael Peterson status
Apr 23, 2005
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Malibu, CA
I don't know if it was that exact boat guy in the video. But, last week at Fort point a ski boat towed a foiler into a wave on a glassy day. The guy ended up falling at the end and the board washed in. Surfer came in and drug the board up on the sand. Grabbed big rocks and proceeded to "stone" the foil board. :)

*shakes head* So much wrong on both sides of that story.
 
I don't know if it was that exact boat guy in the video. But, last week at Fort point a ski boat towed a foiler into a wave on a glassy day. The guy ended up falling at the end and the board washed in. Surfer came in and drug the board up on the sand. Grabbed big rocks and proceeded to "stone" the foil board. :)

*shakes head* So much wrong on both sides of that story.
Yeah its the same guy who gives kiting and foiling lessons in the bay
 
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JLW

Billy Hamilton status
Jul 7, 2004
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@dontpaddleoverhere @Hdip @juandesooka Do you (or anyone else) have any advice on good beginner foils/masts/boards? I see some used gear on craigslist, but I really don't know where to start.

Just for some reference, I'm 5'11", ~170-175 lbs. I've been surfing for a very long time, but have 0 experience with surf foiling.

I may also do wing foiling at some point because it looks super fun, and living in the SF Bay Area, the conditions are highly conducive to that.

Do you think you'd need one foil for surfing, and a different foil for winging? I would imagine you move a lot faster with wing foiling. I think I'll start with regular surf foiling first, and then try wing foiling once I get used to using the foil while surfing.
 
Hi JLW - what is your previous experience with surfing and foiling? Have you been able to get a chance to practice flying? I don't wing (yet! garage full) but have done about everything else including kitefoiling, which is how I learned to fly the foil. I actually run a smaller wing for kiting in comparison to my surf wing, but most wingers will run a size or two up for winging in comparison to surf foiling (at least when beginning). Let us know where you are at then we can talk gear. I am in Sonoma County btw and a foil surf crew is developing here!
 

Hdip

Michael Peterson status
Apr 23, 2005
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Malibu, CA

That's a really good price to get into a good system. You can use that for both prone foil surf and wing foil. Oddly enough you move slower winging in the beginning. Eventually yes, you can go faster with a wing. You'll be amazed at how fast you can go on a wave you paddled into with just your arms though.

Boards:

Prone Surf: Get a board in the 4'6" 4'8" range with similar or maybe a bit more volume than your standard board. That board will last you for 1-2 years at least. So it's going to cost about a grand, but it'll be worth it.

Wing Foil: Specific wing foil boards. Much more volume. Probably closer to 5'0" and 90L or more of volume to learn comfortably. You want to be able to stand on the board without falling over. Old SUP's are good to learn winging on for this reason. Eventually you may choose to learn how to use your prone board with straps to wing on very windy days.
 
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JLW

Billy Hamilton status
Jul 7, 2004
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Hi JLW - what is your previous experience with surfing and foiling? Have you been able to get a chance to practice flying? I don't wing (yet! garage full) but have done about everything else including kitefoiling, which is how I learned to fly the foil. I actually run a smaller wing for kiting in comparison to my surf wing, but most wingers will run a size or two up for winging in comparison to surf foiling (at least when beginning). Let us know where you are at then we can talk gear. I am in Sonoma County btw and a foil surf crew is developing here!

I've been surfing since I was 11, and riding waves way before that. I'm 33 now.

Thanks for the invite, would love to connect.

I guess my biggest fear is that I drop like $2k on a bunch of gear and then find out that I don't like foiling. Maybe that's not a huge deal because I can always re-sell. But I don't know. Maybe if I got another big client or something it would feel more reasonable (I'm a consultant)
 

Hdip

Michael Peterson status
Apr 23, 2005
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Do you have time to drive North of the Golden gate to foil? That's where the best foil waves I've seen up there are. You are either going to learn to foil or your not. It's a fully committed sport. You have two ways in. Buy that unifoil setup I linked you. Take lessons. Lessons are cheaper. You will still need to buy that unifoil setup afterwards. So then lessons are more expensive in the long run? But you'll have a better foundation and get to the fun faster.

It's 10 sessions of falling. If you're not willing to commit to that, then just take a couple lessons and call it a day. Learning to fall is very important. How quickly you can get through 10 sessions will show you how quickly you can get through the learning phase. It could be 2 weeks, or it could be a whole season. How much do you surf?

Once you learn you will be upset when there are waves, because junky tiny waves are just so fun on the foil. Feels like you went on an Indonesian boat trip.

The other weird thing about this stupid sport is you hem and haw over the first purchase. You end up finding a deal on a foil setup for $1100 and it hurts to spend that much. In 3 months you're ready to spend $3k on a different setup. The most gear hungry surf sport there is I think.
 

JLW

Billy Hamilton status
Jul 7, 2004
1,653
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Do you have time to drive North of the Golden gate to foil? That's where the best foil waves I've seen up there are. You are either going to learn to foil or your not. It's a fully committed sport. You have two ways in. Buy that unifoil setup I linked you. Take lessons. Lessons are cheaper. You will still need to buy that unifoil setup afterwards. So then lessons are more expensive in the long run? But you'll have a better foundation and get to the fun faster.

It's 10 sessions of falling. If you're not willing to commit to that, then just take a couple lessons and call it a day. Learning to fall is very important. How quickly you can get through 10 sessions will show you how quickly you can get through the learning phase. It could be 2 weeks, or it could be a whole season. How much do you surf?

Once you learn you will be upset when there are waves, because junky tiny waves are just so fun on the foil. Feels like you went on an Indonesian boat trip.

The other weird thing about this stupid sport is you hem and haw over the first purchase. You end up finding a deal on a foil setup for $1100 and it hurts to spend that much. In 3 months you're ready to spend $3k on a different setup. The most gear hungry surf sport there is I think.
Yeah I have plenty of time. Pretty flexible schedule. Where do you recommend learning? I'm guessing Bolinas....although it definitely seems a little bit crowded for a beginner foiler.
 
Yeah I have plenty of time. Pretty flexible schedule. Where do you recommend learning? I'm guessing Bolinas....although it definitely seems a little bit crowded for a beginner foiler.
That's definitely the best spot for learning. I would go all the way to the west side of the Patch until I was able to actual ride in a controlled manner - it's pretty out of the way. Weekdays are pretty chill too. Learning how to actually get up on the foil is key, you should get at least familiar with riding. I know kitethebay.com gives foil lessons. I had a couple of years of kitefoiling under my belt, so the most challenging part for me was/is dropping in and getting on foil on a tiny ass foilboard.

PS Ditto to what Hdip said. But even after 10 sessions its not like you don't fall any more. For me it just got a small percentage each time, then clicked. You do have the advantage of being a bit younger than me which should help the learning process (but maybe not the equipment buying process!).
 

Hdip

Michael Peterson status
Apr 23, 2005
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Malibu, CA
So I keep thinking about it. You live in a very windy area. I think that you will be better served learning to wing foil first. You're in the off season for wind right now I think. But still, winging is easier. You have something in your hands to hold onto and pull up on while you are standing. You will get hours more on foil time in the beginning. You won't have to deal with paddling into waves and popping up.

You will eventually take that skill and do it in waves. Never having to paddle again.

The downside is now you have another $800 piece of gear to buy haha.

I guess what I'm trying to say is. Take lessons.
 

JLW

Billy Hamilton status
Jul 7, 2004
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So I keep thinking about it. You live in a very windy area. I think that you will be better served learning to wing foil first. You're in the off season for wind right now I think. But still, winging is easier. You have something in your hands to hold onto and pull up on while you are standing. You will get hours more on foil time in the beginning. You won't have to deal with paddling into waves and popping up.

You will eventually take that skill and do it in waves. Never having to paddle again.

The downside is now you have another $800 piece of gear to buy haha.

I guess what I'm trying to say is. Take lessons.

That's definitely the best spot for learning. I would go all the way to the west side of the Patch until I was able to actual ride in a controlled manner - it's pretty out of the way. Weekdays are pretty chill too. Learning how to actually get up on the foil is key, you should get at least familiar with riding. I know kitethebay.com gives foil lessons. I had a couple of years of kitefoiling under my belt, so the most challenging part for me was/is dropping in and getting on foil on a tiny ass foilboard.

PS Ditto to what Hdip said. But even after 10 sessions its not like you don't fall any more. For me it just got a small percentage each time, then clicked. You do have the advantage of being a bit younger than me which should help the learning process (but maybe not the equipment buying process!).

In regards to a board, what would you advise?

Once again, I'm about 170-175 lbs. For "regular" surfing, I ride a 5'9" x 18 3/8" x 2 3/16" shortboard. It's about 24 liters (it's tiny, I know).

What kind of board should I get for prone foiling/wing foiling?

i found a used version of this thing. Do you think it would work? Link: https://jimmylewisboards.com.au/products/jl-marlon-lewis-surf-foil-board-new
 

Hdip

Michael Peterson status
Apr 23, 2005
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Malibu, CA
i found a used version of this thing. Do you think it would work? Link: https://jimmylewisboards.com.au/products/jl-marlon-lewis-surf-foil-board-new
Yeah that will work to learn to prone on. It's a bit long, but that stability will probably be a plus in the beginning. To learn to wing you'd want something that is over your body weight in KG. So you weigh 80KG. Look for a board that's around 90-100 liters of volume.

https://www.mackiteboarding.com/appletree-appleslice-wing-foil-board/ The 5'2" or 5'7".

While foil boards last a long time since they're made with lots of layers of glass and carbon, you have to be very careful that the track boxes aren't damaged. I'm wary of used boards for that reason.


 
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