Let's have a look at some of the questions people have about windsurf foiling:
Q: Windsurf foiling looks hard. Will I be able to do it?
A: If you can already windsurf in a variety of conditions, and use the harness and footstraps consistently, you will pick up the basics of windsurf foiling VERY quickly. Of course, some people learn more quickly than others, but we've seen many people get their first decent rides on the foil within just 10 minutes of use.
Q: Are windsurf foils affected by weeds?
A: Yes and no. If the weeds are thin and floating on the surface, there will be very little effect on the foil's performance, other than needing just a touch more sail power than normal to get moving. Obviously, you will want to avoid the giant rafts of floating weed islands, as they will stop you dead in the water if you hit them. But the good news is that they're easy to spot from your new found high vantage point when you're a few feet up foiling along :)
If the weeds are growing out of the sea bottom and are tall enough to get tangled in the foil's wings, you will absolutely have a hard time flying your foil.
So basically, if the weeds aren't too heavy and they only interact with the foil's mast, it isn't too big of a deal. If they interact with the foil's wings, though, it's a deal breaker.
Q: Is my normal sailing spot appropriate?
A: Maybe, maybe not. Here are some of the things that you should look at when choosing a venue:
1) Water depth: There are windsurf foils available with masts that start around 20" and they go up to about 36". So this is anywhere from knee to stomach deep water for most people. Buy a foil accordingly for your local water depth.
2) Strength and consistency of wind: YOU DO NOT NEED STRONG WIND for foiling. 10 knots is PLENTY of wind for most foils, even with just a 6.5 or 7.5 sail. With practice and good equipment, many people are heading out and getting great, fast, flying rides in just 5-8 knots of wind. The wind quality does not have to be that great, either- of course, it's easier in a smooth, steady wind, but shifty and lully wind is really not that big of a deal on the foils- use the gusts to get flying, then work on efficiency and pumping to keep going through the lulls. It is all part of the fun!
3) Crowds: Beaches can be pretty crowded on a nice 10 knot summer day (as opposed to the normal, non-existent beach crowds on your standard 25 knot windsurfing day). Make sure to keep a safe distance from all other water users, and keep an especially keen eye out for snorklers and swimmers who might not be so easy to see. You will be pretty fast on your foil, and you definitely don't want to hit anyone or anything. Be Safe! If it is too crowded, go somewhere else.
We encourage everyone to have a fresh look at their local sites- foiling will open up a lot of venues and days that you normally wouldn't consider sailing in, so think outside of the box, and go explore some new spots! For us, we can go windsurf foil in a "downtown" city park that's only 5 minutes from the office, rather than driving 30-60 minutes to the good high wind spots...
Q: What's the appeal of windsurf foiling? Why should I care about it?
A: Obviously, this will vary for everyone, but for us windsurf foiling opens up an entire summer's worth of light 8-12 knot winds. Windsurf foiling, even in such light wind conditions, is fast, fun, and engaging. You feel like you're flying. It is unique in that the ride is super smooth and quiet, and the board is unaffected by chop. It isn't hard, per se, but you do have to pay attention and you're always micro adjusting your balance on the board and adjusting the sail trim. If you stop paying attention, you crash, so it is a very engaging ride, even in light winds.
Going in a straight line is fun enough, but when you add in the ability to "carve" turns and play with going up and down and banking off of 6" pieces of chop, the fun factor just explodes through the roof!!
Basically, you're taking conditions that would otherwise be pretty boring, not very challenging, not very exciting... and you're maximizing the fun factor, adrenaline, and stoke on days when you would otherwise not even consider rigging your sail!
We here at Wind-NC are also using foils in higher winds, especially if the conditions are really gusty. The foil's ability to cruise through gusts, and then stay up and flying in super light lulls, just means more time flying around enjoying the day, and less time schlogging, waiting for the next gust to get going. We tend to use huge wings and tiny sails in these conditions.
For many people, foiling will be a huge part of their FUTURE OF WINDSURFING!
Q: I have never foiled before. Which foil should I get?
A: There are lots of great options. You'll pick up the basics on most anything, except for maybe a really small high wind race wing, so we would recommend choosing based on long term goals and general needs rather than just something "beginner friendly".
You'll want to think about how you normally like to sail- Full power with outboard straps and locked out stance? Go with a freeride or freerace foil with a longer fuselage. If you are generally sailing with a more surfy style, taking your time, enjoying the swell and turning and burning with inboard straps, you should consider going with a more surfy/freeride/wave foil with a shorter fuselage.
You should also consider which board and sails that you're most likely to use, and try to match up the foil with the style of complete kit that you're putting together.
We have a giant buyer's guide that talks in detail about all of this stuff and how best to match up your gear. We highly recommend checking it out before making your purchase:
Have another question that we haven't answered here? Please feel free to reach out, we're happy to help!