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Safety, Etiquette & The 10 Steps To Learning How To Foil

Safety, Etiquette & The 10 Steps To Learning How To Foil

The first time I learned to foil it was on a first generation Rush Randall Foil back in 2008 in Fiji. Since then Hydrofoils have changed a lot and what’s possible has as well as the technology over the last 5 years has allowed for rides in the surf without Jetski assist and much more.

One of the most fascinating things about this new generation of hydrofoils over the last 5 years or so is the ability to propel yourself through the water from the beach to the lineup with a pumping motion or foil pump. Being able to control your foil and generate your own speed is one thing, but keeping that momentum and flow moving for long periods of time takes technique and cardio.

Teaching Hydrofoiling over the last few years with our surf camp and school, Maui Sports Adventures, has given me a lot of experience and patience to translate what’s necessary to fly with confidence along with etiquette and control maneuvers of this craft. If I were to share a few tips for someone just getting into the sport I would recommend the following;

Safety & Etiquette + 10 steps to Foiling

- If possible, learn behind a boat or a Jetski.

- If possible, find a mentor, instructor or friend to learn with that can allow you to practice this craft in a safe environment with the “Buddy System”. If you don’t have an instructor or mentor in your area, take precautions such as having a lifeguard or friend keep an eye on you and stay clear of other ocean goers respecting other crafts and people around you.

- When searching for a place to practice in the surf with your Hydrofoil, remember that you don’t need to be at a popular surf break and can be riding waves with not as much size, power and ideally not as many people.

The 10 Basic Principles To Remember When Learning How To Hydrofoil

1) Stand up to your front foot with weight forward as the foil will want to fly right out of the water if your jump to your back foot as we do surfing without a foil.

2) Keep your center of gravity over the board and foil avoiding leaning too far over the water with your chest or butt- stand with a more erect stance over the stringer or centerline of your board.

3) Control your weight distribution with your center of gravity shifting forward and backward over the centerline of the board. Start with your weight forward over your front foot and center, slowly shift your weight back along the centerline until you feel lift.

4) When you feel your initial sensation of lift, slide forward again over your centerline and front foot to bring your board back to the water and learn a controlled landing. Do this a few more times lifting higher and higher to build your confidence Landing. Once you’ve had a few flights to smooth landings, practice this same motion up and down in altitude but without the board touching the water/wave.

5) Controlling your direction and turns takes a whole lot less than you think. Try to minimize the amount you roll the rail with toe to heal pressure. Control your direction with where you direct your focus/eyes along with slight twist of your head and chest. A lot of the time I feel we need to keep our focus and body movements one step ahead of the foil.

6) Once you’re dialing in control of your flight and direction on a wave, you could practice your foil pump by carrying the speed from your wave ride into the channel. Depending on the type of foil you have, you want tofind the rhythm of your foil. For a more traditional single scoop shaped wing I feel more of an elongated sense of drive and a full body motion going into the pump, while a more high aspect wing feels comfortable pumping with a short and quick bounce at high altitude. It’s important that through your technique of pumping you keep your motion’s and momentum created forward to back, back to forward and not side to side, toe to heal.

7) Work the top end of your altitude rather than the lower end of your altitude. While keeping your flight high mast elongate the sensation of pressure on the top side of the wing by driving your weight forward and down extending legs and standing tall, followed by a quick spring or bounce off the back foot applying pressure to the bottom side of the wing simultaneously lifting your front knee to chest creatweightless sensation that lifts your altitude back tohigh mast.

8) Allow your whole body to work dynamically for you and not against you. Spring and drive using the extension of your legs and body and the throw of your arms forward and up, back and down.

9) Find your foils rhythm and foil pump tempo and remember to control your breath. A pump back out to the lineup can take a lot out of you so remembering to breathe will help with your cardio. The higher you are in altitude and the faster you are moving through your foil pump the more efficient and effective your pumping will be. Remember to control your breath through.

10) Eye down a wave or bump that you could carve into from the channel and start planning your desired radius of the turn in order to go from a foil pump back into a glide on a wave or swell. In the beginning it helps to keep the board flat and create a more pivotal change of direction with a twist of your body and shift of your focus. Turning is tighter when applying your technique on the lift of your altitude rather than the decline of your altitude.

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Zane Schweitzer

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