How long does it take to learn to foilboard? Kitesurfing Magazine’s Serena Lazdins put the Foil Academy to the test.
So you think you wanna foil? I didn’t. Never crossed my mind. In fact it was the furthest thing from it. For a few reasons. I didn’t think I was good enough and I was determined to nail my jibes on the surf board. Well that all changed while gear testing this fall down in Cape Hatteras.
Seeing as I was the novice kiter in the group, and the only person with zero foil experience, I was nominated by the guys to guinea pig the Slingshot Foil Academy. Kinda hard to say no when you are gear testing, and they did give sound rationale for me being the one to try this learn-to-foil program.
With some liquid courage and direction from one of the guys, we easily downloaded the flight school academy videos and watched them. All I was thinking was man, if I hurt myself I’m gonna ruin everyone’s day, and worse, if I cut myself with this foil thing, who is gonna stitch me up? No thoughts of sugar plums dancing in my head as I fell asleep that night. The next morning the wind picked up and it was go time.
Down to the dock I went, with the learning-to-TAXI mast on the foil. For me, this was the best part as the fear factor of body dragging, water starting and crashing was way less intimidating since the mast length was only 15 inches vs 35.5 on the full-size mast.
I had some very useful advice from the videos as well. Forget everything you do in the water with your twin-tip or directional board and when you fall try to fall far away from your foil. Got it.
Water starting was by far the most difficult part of the flight academy process. After a couple of hours of practice I was up and riding for short distances with the board in the water in both directions. Time for the next lesson.
On to the Touch-and-Go Stage. Which meant on to the next progression of mast length. 24 inches. Even with adding 9 inches to the length of the mast, I was able to nail the water start on the first attempt. I think this had a lot to do with mastering the TAXI stage before progressing to the touch-and-go.
This was the fun part of learning how to foil. Getting comfortable on the board and for the first time experiencing what the foil feeling was all about. I’m not gonna lie, the first time I was up on the foil I screamed! Foiling was unlike any other kiting sensation out there. When you are on a directional or twin-tip, there is spray, chatter from the board having so much contact with the water and the constant vibration throughout your legs and body of going over the water’s surface. I never realized all that was going on until I started to foil. When you are foiling and lift off for the first time, there is nothing but silence, your whole body is still and you feel like you are flying.
After five hours of actual time spent on the water, I went from thinking I never wanting to foil to being able to foil for as long as I wanted in both directions!” —Serena Lazdins