The size of the board doesn't play as large a part as it does with skis and wakeboards so much as wing size will. Most high-end foil boards are naturally smaller yet thicker to have increased volume but smaller surface area, so you don't have this large nose to bring the Foil down. While some mid-range boards will come in a smaller size and a large size, in many cases, these boards are designed to double as a wakesurfer and a foil board, so if you only plan to use it as a foil, we recommend the shorter.
When starting, most bottom end boards are compression molded, like a wakeboard or a ski. This is the easiest way to keep the price down, though they also are the heaviest construction. As you go up through the range, cores change as well as molding processes, which helps reduce the weight of the boards and in turn reduces the weight and increases the ease of moving your Foil.
Finally, comfort comes into it. The base of many entry-level boards is shaped somewhat like a wakesurfer. With wakesurfers, they are designed to have control and hold on to the water. As such, these entry-level compression molded boards will grip the water when you find yourself on the down flow of Foiling; this will help hold you when you come down, rather than glancing straight back up and breaching your Foil. High-end shapes are convex and have a high level of taper up into the rails. This allows you to glance off and get back to height if you come down a little too hard and get back pumping and flying. The aim of the foil game is flow, so once you have the hang of things, you don't want to be getting stuck on the water.
Foil masts are broken down into two constructions, Aluminium, and Carbon. Apart from price, there are two other significant differences between them, firstly will naturally be weight. Aluminium will always add more weight to your Foil than carbon due to its natural properties. The second difference is response and performance. Will you notice a significant difference as a beginner or even an intermediate? Not really. At the top end though, you will find that the carbon mast will allow you to pump more efficiently and transition through turns faster than an aluminium mast will allow you to. And as mentioned before, pricing also comes into play. Aluminium will always be the cheaper option and, in most cases, will suit most riders. For those who feel they need the reduced weight and better response, a carbon mast will incur an extra cost.
As you progress in your foil career, you will find mast length differs significantly from where you've begun. For wakesurf Foiling, the most conventional mast length options are 24" - 28" (60-70cm). While you can go longer and shorter, these masts offer the best range to pump efficiently and have the ability to turn and manoeuvre.
So why go shorter or longer? If it is your first time, the shorter the mast, the less room for error you have, meaning you can only go up so far before potentially breaching the front wing, and there is less room to come crashing down, easing the learning curve. With masts down to 14", the shorter at the start, the easier it will be for you to pick up the more minor details of foiling from the beginning.
Now, for wakesurf Foiling, where in the 24" - 28" range suits you best? That comes entirely down to you. If you are still feeling a bit new to the sport, then the 24" may be the length for you. If you feel confident and comfortable and want to give yourself more room to move, then up to the 28" will suit better.
Now masts can go longer than 28" as well, and the next step is 32" (80cm). These length masts are where you start merging into open water surf foiling. When you're dealing with bigger waves and more significant currents, the longer mast helps to control and not get overrun, which isn't an issue with wakesurf tow foiling. In most cases, if you want the option to transition from wakesurf to open water surf, most companies offer masts separately, allowing you to transfer with ease.
The low aspect wings are the shorter, wider profile wings and were the first we saw in wakesurf foiling world due to their ability to be slower and more controlled, which meant they were also more forgiving. With foil wings, a fatter leading edge provides an easy and increased lift. At the same time, the more aggressively curved design allows low-aspect wings to have a greater carving ability, letting you shift from toe to heels with ease and not sacrifice rider balance. Due to the overall shape, you will typically find that lower aspect wings will naturally have a greater surface area.
High Aspect ratio foil wings aim to generate speed and reduce drag, leading to an opposite shape styling that is narrower and longer. Due to less water being channeled through the front wing on a high aspect design, it sacrifices control into your turns but obtains the forward speed that is the aim of the design. A high aspect wing will naturally also have a lower level of lift of the water, though due to the speed they create, they allow you to have an easier time pumping the Foil as well as allowing you to ride waves considerably further back and power forward with much less effort than a low aspect.
This is the most straightforward part of the Foil wings, this is your rear wing, and its job is to help stabilise all your motions. Suppose your front wing is your rudder/ propeller combination, pivoting and controlling speed and movement. In that case, the rear stabiliser acts as your tracking fins, reigning everything into place and helping the Foil to take off without breaching or overcorrecting.
With sizing on foil front wings, it is like anything. The bigger you are, the more surface area the front wing will need to cover you. Around 1500-1600cm2 is where you will find the tipping point separating people over 90Kgs. Someone lighter can ride a foil with a front wing of greater surface area, though they may find it slightly harder to control. Inversely, someone who is heavier can ride a foil with a smaller surfaced front wing, though they will be working harder to get it to rise and flow.
Positioning Your Foil
How to Start
The best way to start is by running a full-length wakeboard rope. This will get you away from the boat and allow you the room to get familiar with the Foil and board and how they handle on the water without the stress of it taking off towards the boat. As you progress with feeling comfortable on the board, the way it shifts underfoot, and the motion that comes with gliding, you can move to a shorter rope or surf rope. A shorter rope lets you start in the first roller to get the full pull of the current and start shifting and working towards dropping the handle.
As a beginner, you want to get a feel for how the surfer lifts and moves. The best way to do this is to run at a slower boat speed, between 4-7mph. By slowing down the boat and using the handle to help control, you will better understand how to shift your weight to raise and lower the board without any overreaching movements.
As you progress and become more comfortable handling the Foil, you will ultimately build the speed up to a wakesurf style setting at 11-12mph. This will allow you to get enough power behind the wave to shift and move on your Foil without assistance from the rope.
Once Comfortable: 11-12mph
Positioning on a Foil is everything. Set yourself too far back, and you'll breach as you get going; too far forward, you won't break the water. The best place to set your feet is with your back foot just in front of the mast; this allows you to control the lift more efficiently, while your front foot will be set in the most comfortable spot further up the board. Just keep in mind we're not doing a pin drop or sumo wrestling, so think shoulder width apart, not too narrow, not too wide.
The simplest way to go about getting up is to treat it like a wakesurfer, have it face up in the water, sit your heels on the edge and let the boat do the rest of the work as it builds up speed, bringing the board around as you stand. Where you want to differ from wakesurfing though, is to have more weight over your front foot, which will stop the board from taking off underneath you as you try to stand.
Sounds ridiculous, right? I'm with you; imagine my thoughts while I'm writing this. There is a reason this is here, though: with learning, having a couple of falls is part of the journey. As we get bolder, we tend to try to save a fall and recover. With Foiling, if you're going down, go down naturally and try to let yourself get some distance between yourself and the Foil in the process. This is a big bit of machinery you're on; you don't want it creeping up behind you or getting tangled up in it when you're going down.
The Basic Mechanics of Movement
Positioning on the Wave & Managing Speed
With the efficiency of foils compared to wakesurfers, you now have a considerably bigger area to work with and move. Positioning is everything with foils, from speed to control and stability. So setting yourself in the correct positions and managing speed is key to controlling your Foil. If you can't control your speed, you will either take the express lane to the back seat of the boat, nose dive or overcorrect and breach the Foil.
As you reach the wave's top, the Foil is at its highest energy point, where the current will drive it forward. This is where you will want to position yourself slightly more on your front foot and onto your heels to allow you to pull down and away from the wave without rearing the Foil.
Alternatively, as we wash off speed by being away from the wave, we then need to pull slightly more onto our back foot and into our toes to build back up to the wave and generate our speed back.
Once again, this sounds like it should be self-explanatory, though it's worth talking about, as you can't handle a wakesurf foil like a wakesurf. While wakesurfing, you utilise a lot of the lower body to control and throw the board around; with Foiling, it is much more hips and upper body to control. To get your turns flowing, you first must keep yourself stable through your core, and secondly, rather than pivot with your legs and feet, you want to direct the board through your hips and up through your shoulders. As you shift your hips and upper body left or right, the board will follow without moving too quick and bailing you out.
While this seems like a relatively straightforward process, pumping involves you preempting where the board will be at each movement so as not to go too far in either direction. By pushing in motion between your front and rear foot, you will generate speed and allow you to have speed and momentum when away from rollers or considerably further back behind the boat without a rope.
Positioning on 2nd, 3rd Rollers
The best part of Foils, as we've mentioned, is how much more surf-able area you gain thanks to their efficiency; this includes second and third rollers back behind the boat. The easiest is to start back there on a long line and set yourself in the sweet spot. In most cases, the best position and place with the most energy is the highest point of the wave, out wider where you find the wave in front tapering out. This is the best position to set yourself to ride as it will give you a similar push as if you were on the first roller. Alternatively, once you find that perfect position and know where it is, you can get adventurous and foil your way back there.