Hello!! This month we’re giving it all with many posts in a row. Today the subject is windsurf foil, hydro foil, windfoil or anyway you want to call it. This concept really exploded in 2018 and I think it will still doing it in 2019.  We are already late writing our opinion about “foiling”, it’s the future of windsurfing or just a fad?.

I must say that before start writing this post I’ve made a tour through the web. I’ve read some articles about the subject and watched some videos, because I didn’t have a clear opinion at the time. Last summer I was testing this discipline in Tarifa and the feelings were really cool, that thing flying on the water is nice!!

With all this inputs I’ll try to tell you why I think the windsurf foil is not just a fad, but is not the future of windsurf either.

Physics is objective

Hydrofoil physics

http://iopscience.iop.org

The first plus point windsurf foiling has, is that physics is on its side.

It’s quite obvious that a new modality that drastically reduces drag between the board and the water, making it more efficient, will quickly gain supporters.

How can we apply that efficiency gain? Well, basically in 3 different ways.

Windfoil use smaller sails

One of the possible benefits of this efficiency improvement is that we can reduce a little bit our sails quiver. If our biggest sail is for example a 7.8, we can go perfectly with the same wind, a 6.0 and the foil.

This is not a minor issue. Two sail sizes less could also make you to have one less mast, one less fin, or even save in a boom. Transport is also easier because we are dismissing the biggest part of our gear.

With less wind you can go with the hydrofoil

Another option if we already have our quiver, whichever it is, is that by adding a foil we increase the range of wind we can use that same gear. This is really good as we can spend more time in the water. At the end that’s the point of all of this!!

With a 7.8 we can start flying from 6 or 7 knots. That’s simply impossible without this gadget and this is, in my opinion, the biggest contribution the foil makes to windsurf. But I will talk about this a little bit later.

Windsurf foil will allow to break speed records

The third way of making use of this efficiency improvement is, obviously, going faster with same sail size and same wind.

Theoretically by reducing the drag, foiling should be faster than “traditional” windsurf. All the pro’s are now trying to break their own records. Let’s see how much time does it take to Antoine Albeau to beat himself.

This, to be purists, has nuances. A lot of development is needed in order to see great speeds with strong winds.

This video from the Youtube channel of Windfoilzone shows what are we talking about:

We have to put technique into the equation too, managing to foil under the wind conditions you have in Namibia for the Lüderitz Speed Challenge, isn’t easy. But in theory, records will be broken.

Industry’s influence

Undoubtedly, if all the strong players of a certain industry have the same goal, they will make an impact. Nowadays all the big brands related to windsurfing have the focus on windfoil.

With Starboard and Neilpryde leading, we already have boards and sails models specifically designed for the hydrofoil. Many of the 2018 and 2019 Freeride and Freerace models come with the “Foil ready” label. Also there are many new brands popping up in the market (Horue, F4, Slingshot, etc.), many of them coming from the surf and kite industry, where the hydrofoil is more advanced stages.

When money is invested in marketing and design, if things are done properly, the results will come. Especially in a world like windsurfing, which although relatively small, has enthusiastic fans eager to try new things.

Gonzalo-Costa - ARG3 - TheWindsurfingBlog

www.pwaworldtour.com – Gonzalo Costa by Chris Yates

If we look at the PWA, 5 official windsurf foil event have been organized during this 2018 (Japan, Korea, Costa Brava and Sylt), where Gonzalo Costa Hoevel has been crowned World Champion.

On the other side, Neilpryde is developing the class RS:X convertible. Backed by the IWA, world championships are being organized since 2017. This class uses both, the normal fin or the hydrofoil depending on the conditions. The rest of the equipment is the same. In principle, this is the future of Olympic Windsurf.

All this data shows that foiling will have a great impact during the coming years, we have to see where it lead us. My personal opinion is that if we manage to blend foiling with what we already have. Not pretending that the users have to change all their equipment, a lot will be won.

More money and more junk

And finally we come to the Achilles heel of this idea: today, going into foil world, cost to the average windsurfer between 800 Eur and 1000 Eur, at least. This is only taking into account the foil itself and the fin box modification (or upgrading the board to a “foil ready” one). We are not talking about foiling sails, etc.

Windsurf Car - TheWindsurfingBlog

But it isn’t just about the initial investment, is that you are also adding new stuff to load on your windsurfing equipment. One of the greatest handicaps our sport has, compared with Kitesurf for example, is how uncomfortable it is to carry all the stuff.

Let’s face it, it’s a huge difference having to keep, transport, rig and manage the windsurfing gear, with respect to having 2 or 3 kites and a Kite board.

The windsurf foil doesn’t provide a solution regarding this issue. It makes windsurf more expensive and with more stuff. It’s true that with time, new developments, competition and above all, the second-hand market, foiling will reduce its price significantly. It’s also true, as we mentioned in the first bullet, that if you do your homework, you will manage to save in one or two big sails. But in any case, it will never be an improvement or saving in the windsurfer budget.

The gap to fill by the windfoil

What is the foil’s place in windsurfing then? To my way of thinking, it’s giving to the actual windsurfer more time in the water. It’s an accessory that extends the range of enjoyable days on the beach.

This may seem a minor thing, but it isn’t. Especially for those one who have to manage time between windsurf and family. Windfoiling allows us to be at the beach with a pleasant breeze (10 or 15 knots). This makes possible to sail and being with the family at the same time.  To a certain extent, it makes this sport more “family friendly”.

Windsurf is a very physical sport, slow and complicated to progress. Foiling takes out a part of it. It makes it less physical and once you manage to go planing hooked, you can follow the learning curve smoothly. It makes windsurf more like Kitesurf. This fact will make a lot of people, who are starting to windsurf, going after the foil. Simply to enjoy the ride.

Of course we will have Freestyle Foil, Wave Foil, etc. in the future. But this won’t be commercially significant, most people won’t follow that path. The strong point of introducing hydrofoil into windsurf, is to be able to sail in light winds with a smaller gear. A 5.5 – 6m2 sail, a 130l board and your foil, just that, comfortable, simple and compatible with family.

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What is missing?

And we always return to the same point, this won’t bring new people to windsurf. It isn’t a gateway because nobody can windfoil without an intermediate level of windsurf (I’m talking about planing hooked and footstraps). That’s what Jaime Andrés was talking about in this post, which I recommend reading.

Windsurf industry is still failing in attracting new people to the sport, in making it simple, easier and cheeper. As an example, why 90% of windsurfers need a 100% carbon mast, carbon booms, carbon mast foots, full carbon boards, etc. The answer is simple, they don’t.

But to a greater or lesser extent, we have it or we look for it. Because is what the market mainly offer, is what we have in the newer models. For those of us who are already hooked on windsurfing, it’s great to upgrade the equipment, have a lighter rig, a faster board, etc. But for those entering into the sport, all this stuff, each option more expensive than the other, is a huge set back.

Rafa Windfoil - TheWindsurfingBlog

Rafa Aguado by Pepe

Windsurfing needs urgently Freeride packs, simple, easy and cheap. And most important, under my point of view, needs marketing campaigns to focus a little bit more on this and less in double forwards.

Well, I think I went off topic, this post was about foiling. As I said, I think something is still missing, something that brings new people to windsurf and I don’t think the foil will do the job.

Conclusions

I don’t know if after all of this writing I’ve told you my opinion about windfoil :-) I think it’s a discipline that came to stay, that will do a lot of good to windsurfing and that, step by step all windsurfers will join. For a lot of people will be a solution of their problem, allowing them to windsurf while the family enjoys the beach.

I don’t think this is just a fad, it will add a lot of things to the sport if we keep it simple. If more versatile sails and boards are designed instead of developing “foil specific” stuff. That will make this sport simpler and more affordable. But this is something the brands and designers will have to assess, I can only give my opinion.

Of course, I don’t think this will be the future of windsurfing either. The adrenaline of hitting the water at full speed, the acceleration of catching a good wave, sheet in and hold it when the gust comes, are irreplaceable sensations for me.

Well, here you have my opinion about windsurf foil. I don’t know if you’ll share it or not but I hope you like it. In any case, you can leave your comments down here if you want. If you haven’t tried it yet, I really recommend you to do it, the feeling is really cool. Cheers, good winds and see you soon!!

 

Windsurf foil - Future or fad?
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