LEARNING TO FOIL WINGSURF

wing foil learn package

AN INTRODUCTION TO FOILING

learn foil surfing

Unless you haven’t been paying attention to new water sports crazes, you’ve probably seen a huge increase in the number of people getting into foil boarding; whether it’s using a foil for surfing, kitesurfing, or the relatively new wing-foiling (covered in more detail below).

LEARNING TO FOIL / WINGSURF

WHAT IS A FOIL?

It was in Hawaii that the hydrofoil was first developed. The idea is to use a blade below the water to ‘lift’ the board you are using (whether it’s a SUP, kiteboard, or surfboard) clean out of the water. The board is attached to a mast which is attached to that blade. Once the blade lifts at a certain speed, the mast comes out of the water and then no part of the board is actually touching the water. We will talk about how foiling feels a little later in this article; the very reason for its existence is how that ride feels.

Early foil models were heavy, extremely difficult to use, and really quite dangerous. These hand-made foils were also very expensive. After several manufacturers came up with various foil models over the years, in around 2014, foil models had improved and started appearing in more numbers on local beaches. However, they were still too fast, generally unstable and very difficult to ride, as well as being expensive. Accidents were common and often resulted in nasty injuries.

The speed of design improvements has been impressive and the good news is that today, all manufacturers are building easy to use, less expensive, stable, fun foils which suit all kinds of surf/water conditions. They range from inexpensive plastic foils, through aluminium and fibreglass construction, all the way to the top-of-the-range carbon fibre foils.

Even better, many are of a modular design, meaning that you can interchange the various parts as your level of foiling improves.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FOIL COMPARED TO RIDING A NORMAL KITEBOARD OR SURFBOARD?

This question is rather like trying to describe how it feels the first time you ride a wave; it’s really hard to put it into words.

learn to foil

It’s like no other form of board riding you have ever undertaken before. The reason for this is that you are simply floating: Imagine gliding over a sea of soap suds where the suds keep you on top without sinking yet you can’t feel them beneath you. Your foil makes no sound at all as it carries you, there’s no slapping of water that you always get with a board in contact with water. It’s spookily quiet as you glide effortlessly through the water. People have described it as a magic carpet ride and I would have to agree.

Also, the momentum of foils and the way they travel through water means that you only need light winds for either kiting or wing-surfing. You can also travel at much faster speeds and turn further upwind or downwind than you can with a regular twin-tip kiteboard.

It’s really easy to see why kite foiling and wing-surfing are the fastest growing water sports.

WHAT MAKES FOILING MORE DIFFICULT TO LEARN?

If you are used to riding a twin-tip kiteboard or a directional surfboard, you will know that you steer the board using your heels and toes. Only two things to remember; heels will dig in to ride upwind and toes will turn the board downwind. Let’s refer to this as the ‘roll.’

With a foil, there are three things to master. You’ve got the toe and heel operation (the roll) but you have also got a front and back axis (the pitch) to deal with. Getting the ‘pitch’ of the foil right is essential to keep the board out of the water. Too much leaning back and the foil will literally fly out of the water. Too much pressure forward and the foil will sink the board. Foils are sensitive and require only a tiny movement of your body forward or backward to completely change momentum.

The roll is also harder to come to terms with on a foil. If you can imagine the roll on a regular board occurs immediately beneath your feet and the adjustment you make results in an instant turn. With a foil, the blade is well beneath you, anything from 40cm to 110cm (depending on the length of the foil’s mast). This means that the adjustment required is larger and the turn takes longer to effect.

Then we have to look at how weird it feels to be hovering above the water. Everything you have ever learned with kiteboarding or wind-surfing is about the board being in direct contact with the ocean. The height you can achieve with a foil is at once exhilarating but it’s also scary. No matter how good you are as a kiteboarder, surfer, or windsurfer, learning to foil will make you feel like a noob all over again. It sounds like a bit of a nightmare, doesn’t it? But the reward, the reward………..your soap-suddy, dreamy-cruise through the air will make all the faceplants and aching thighs well worth it. It’s just a learning curve you must go through to get to the pot of gold.

HOW DO I LEARN FOILING?

There are several different ways to learn to foil. If you already kitesurf well, then you can pick up foiling using your kite skills to generate the power required. If you are an accomplished windsurfer, then moving to wing-foiling will not be too big a step up.

If you don’t kitesurf, surf, or wind-surf already, then your options are as follows: 1. Learn to kitesurf first using a regular twin tip (this might sound difficult but actually, the learning curve with kiting is much faster than with regular surfing and progress can be rapid. 2. Learn to wing-foil (see below for our course options at Swell). The great thing about using the wing to start foiling is that control of the wing is easier and even faster to master than control of the kite. 3. Use a boat-tow to start. However, whilst using a boat to tow you might seem like a good option, in reality, it’s cheating somewhat and with this method, you won’t utilize some of the balance skills which are vital for foil control once a boat is not towing you. Another problem with a boat tow is that the boat tends to do the steering for you, so you are not learning that skill either. Lastly, unless your boat pilot is well-versed with foiling themselves, they won’t know the correct speed to keep you above the water and safe.

Whichever method you choose, you should begin your water experience with a short mast on the foil (shorter = easier). The better you get, the longer you want your mast to be. You will also use a bigger board at the beginning to give you as much stability as possible.

WINGSURF FOILING; A PERFECT INTRODUCTION TO FOILING WITH NO PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE

As we’ve mentioned above, wingsurf-foiling is an ideal choice if you don’t already kitesurf and you want to get straight into riding a foil. Wingsurfing is growing quickly in popularity and it’s easy to see why.

Unlike a kite, the hand-held wing is much simpler and safer to use. There are no long lines to put out, no potentially dangerous launch to master, no risk of crashing the kite and not being able to relaunch it. The equipment is easy to put together and the wing is quickly inflated. A leash attaches the wing to the rider in case of falls and handles are positioned along the center of the wing to guide it; it’s very light in the hand. In fact, there are no discernible disadvantages to using a wing to foil.

learn to wingsurf

Wings are sold in various sizes to suit wind conditions and rider size. A good wing-foiling school will have the correct size of the wing for your lessons. You will be able to wing-foil in just 12 knots of wind. All you have to do is inflate the lightweight wing and enter the water.

WHERE CAN I LEARN TO FOIL

Cabarete, Dominican Republic, is already a world-renowned kite surfing destination, with steady side-on trade winds and warm Caribbean water: Now foiling is taking over as the fastest growing sport. You can come and stay with us at Swell and take a 10-hour foiling course for $795 USD (one person) or $636 USD each if two guests are learning at the same time.

More info on our learn to wingsurf course can be found here and the package pricing for learning to foil & wingsurf are here

ABOUT SWELL


We are a purpose-built retreat for people that are looking for an active water sports holiday. We offer learn to surf, kitesurf and wingsurf packages for clients staying with Swell

Swell has 2 locations: Swell Caribbean on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic

Swell Bali is a new Swell hotel, which only focuses on surfing. Steps from 4 world-class surf spots for surfers of all levels


learn to wingsurf

Share on Facebook

WHAT SURFING DOES TO YOUR HEALTH

WHY SURFING (AND LEARNING TO SURF) IS ONE OF THE BEST CHOICES FOR A HEALTHY & HAPPY LIFE.

SURF HEALTH

The great thing about surfing is that it’s approachable for people of all ages and all walks of life. Surfing is awesome and a life-changing activity that only requires courage to fly in the ocean. The best part about surfing is that it changes the entire lifestyle by adding thrill and adventure. Below, we highlight certain aspects to show why surfing is the best way to stay in shape.

SURF HEALTH

ALL IN ONE WORKOUT

At first, it’s obvious that surfing is a full-body workout. Your every move on the water requires a combination of physical strength, stamina, and cardio. But don’t worry if you are weak at one thing: it’s not a prior requirement to get started. The only thing that it requires is the energy and motivation inside your heart to glide along the ocean waves.

There is not any specific level of skill and experience to start surfing. Going from paddling to popping up on your surfboard will cardiovascular and upper body strength, and keeping yourself stable on the board will work your legs and core. By following these steps, you are utilizing the entire body while having the time of your life.

Besides physical fitness and impressive anaerobic effects, this sport also brings strength in some other life aspects:

STRESS RELIEF

Spending time with nature, enjoying precious moments, and bringing physical strength to use, combinedly to help to reduce strength and anxiety levels. Regular surfing makes you feel similar to morphine. It can produce an ecstatic feel and an optimistic stance on life.

IMPROVED SLEEP

It’s a well-known fact that exercise decreases sleep complaints, especially sleep disorders, and their effects are pretty much similar to sleeping pills. After paddling for a few hours and riding on the water swells, your body is ready for a healing slumber.

INCREASED VITAMIN D

Exposure to the sun along with a healthy workout causes the increased production of Vitamin D inside your body that helps in calcium absorption, improved body structure, and regulation of body functions.

MIND FULLNESS

Surfing helps you in developing your focus by putting everything else aside. Your concentration is on your body language to keep yourself on the board, merge your heartbeat with the surf, and fly in the ocean.

surf balance

BUILDING BALANCE:

Exercising balance in every sphere of life is key to success. Surfing well requires maintaining balance on the board and keep enjoying a healthy and vigorous ride. Your balanced coordination on the board prevents you from serious injuries. Surfing requires a good balance, and keep practising the sport helps you in developing the skill.

 

Regular surfing strengthens your every day’s fitness and helps you in protecting against common age-related somatic issues like arthritis, tendonitis, and many more.

Many surfers also refer to practice some other exercises, such as pilates and yoga, to improve their core strength, flexibility, and balance and enhance their surfing abilities.

“Core” itself points out the vitality of muscles, including posture to upper-back and lower-back strength.

THE POWER OF PASSION

Perhaps the most impactful benefit of surfing lies in the connection you make to the sport. Your dedication to the sport can give a boost to your overall physical health.

Once a surfer starts feeling less like hard work, the training becomes a piece of enjoyment. Once you are passionate and ambitious for the sport, you try to work out regularly to stay in shape and keep training to become even better.

Connecting to an activity that provides you with a source of enjoyment, along with the workout, makes you feel easier than regular exercise at the gym. A study published in Marketing Letters highlighted that enjoying such activity brings more comfort and relaxation to you.

The reason behind this is that the part of fun diverts your attention from the required effort.

Moreover, it also reduces the tendency to overeat or have extra calories after the training session.

A LIFETIME OF FITNESS

It is not a one-time activity to put yourself in shape. If you are passionate and ambitious about something, you carry it throughout your life and put all your efforts to maintain it. Especially, physical fitness is an ongoing practice that prolongs your shape and strength. Besides physical health, engaging in activity like surfing can also bring a more peaceful mind to you as well.

Even if you don’t surf regularly, the time you spent on the waves has long-lasting effects.

If you feel bored with your workout routine and ready to switch it with a healthy activity?

Surfing might be the best alternative, and one of your favourite hobbies as well.

BALANCE

Balance is a key to surf on the waves. Once you lost your balance, the whole drama is over, and it might cause an injury to you. The best way to learn about balancing is riding as much as you can.

However, mostly the rides aren’t enough long to get yourself trained because all water swells don’t convert into a wave. Performing lunges and squats can strengthen the glutes and leg muscles, which ultimately helps you to maintain your balance on the board.

If you don’t have a balance board, you can achieve it by closing your eyes and standing at one leg for up to 30 seconds and repeating it again and again. Like other skills, it requires your patience and consistency, so don’t lose it.

DIGITAL DETOX
Another great health benefit of surfing is that (at least for now) it also means you are completely disconnected from digital distractions like phones, computers, TV and social media. When you are out in the water it’s just you, your fellow surfers and the elements for you to enjoy.
At times I have gone out for a 2-hour surf session, barely caught any waves, and still come back feeling happy and fulfilled. Enjoyed a sunrise view, did my paddle exercise and had no distractions on my mind.

surf excersise

SURF FITNESS EXCERSIZES

MAXIMIZE YOUR SURF HEALTH

The following are great examples for people that want to get surf fit before their holiday or to keep doing at home, theses exercises will greatly improve your surf sessions.

CORE: SIDE PLANK WITH REACH THROUGH

surf fitnessThe strength of core muscles is responsible to stabilize your torso to help you in balancing, paddling, and rotation through turns.

The side plank can easily strengthen the layers of your obliques, complying with the rotational component. Lay down on your side, bend your knees, and prop up your upper body on your elbow.

 

Raise off your hips by holding for 8-10 seconds, give a rest for 10 seconds, and do 1-3 sets of 12-15 reps at each side.

LEG STRENGTH: SINGLE LEG SQUATS
surfers healthStronger legs help you in maintaining balance and staying on board for a long time. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, single-leg squats will help you in developing the core and leg strength to paddle at your best and keep enjoying for a long time.

Stand on one foot and lift the other one about 5-7 inches off the ground. Align the knee of the standing foot with the middle toe, lowering down by bending your knee at 45 degrees. You should keep your back straight and head aligned with the shoulders.

Hold for 3-5 seconds in the lowest position and do 3 sets of 5-7 reps on each leg. With time and practice, you can increase the depth of the squats to make it challenging.

 

PRE-SURF WARM-UP: DEEP SQUAT WITH OVERHEAD REACH
surf warm upBefore you start surfing, you need a quick warm-up to give relaxation to your hips and shoulders and set them ready for paddling.

For this purpose, put your feet apart a little wider than the shoulder width. You can slightly turn out your toes to release the tension.

Keep your gaze forward and your torso straight, squat down and touch the ground with both hands for a while, then stand back up. Now, circle your arms and raise them towards the sky.

Repeat this 10-15 times to warm up yourself for the paddling.

SURF PADDLE FITNESS

A surf session is more paddling than surfing on the waves with a ratio of 95% to 5% . If you have not trained your paddling muscles, then your session will be quite short. You can strengthen your paddling muscles with a simple pool workout. This will considerably add to your strength and power.

WARM-UP:
Spend 5-7 minutes on mixed strokes swimming, such as freestyle stroke, butterfly stroke, breaststroke, backstroke, and sidestroke.

MAIN SET:
2 x 100 yards at an energetic pace with ease and comfort.
3 x 50 yards at a relatively faster pace than the previous one, following with the set of 10 pushups after every 50-yards.
4 x 50 yards at your maximum power.

Relax for 2 minutes after every set, and rest for 15-20 seconds after every round.

BREATH CONTROL

Add some underwater swimming, 3-5 sets. Also, consider swimming at a high pace with all your power for at least one round. When getting near the wall, turn quickly and hold your breath under the water as long as you can. This is the perfect simulation for paddling and duck diving.

Besides breath control, it also mentally prepares for such a situation where someone needs to stay underwater.

To make sure your safety, try to practice it with your friend or a person around. The more important is that you remain calm and relaxed, especially when you need air at the peak.

To sum it up, we think learning to surf is one of the best long terms investments you can make for your mental as well as physical health. The fact that it is great fun and it gives you an incentive to travel to exotic place around the world to surf is an added bonus.

Interested in learning to surf in the warm Caribbean waters of the Dominican Republic? At Swell we offer week-long Learn to Surf & Yoga holidays for adults.

Send us a message today, we guarantee to get you up and riding.

Sunrise at our local surf beach

 

Share on Facebook