Slingshot introduced their HoverGlide FWind1 windsurfing foil to the public in June of 2017. We got our hands on one as soon as possible and took it straight to the water! Here are some of the things that we found:
The HoverGlide offers a really nice blend of performance and construction details, while keeping the overall cost quite attractive. The wings are made out of carbon, while the mast and fuselage are aluminum. All of the bolts are titanium to help deal with the amount of force on the joints. When assembled it is quite stiff and you can't really find any play in any of the joints.
Assembly was easy, but it's a good idea to follow the (supplied) manual the first few times that you put it together. There are a few different sizes and lengths of bolts, so you need to be careful about what you put where or else it won't go together correctly and you can damage some of the parts. The supplied "fin screws" are also a larger diameter than standard windsurfing fin screws, so you either need to drill out your board to make the holes big enough, or you can get an adapter that will allow you to use the standard M6 bolts that windsurfers are accustomed to. Slingshot boards come with fin boxes that are purpose built for the HoverGlide, so the pairing is quick and easy with stock hardware if you stay within the brand.
The heavy duty aluminum parts are quite solid and should hold up well over time, although that comes with some weight (the assembled foil weighs about 13 pounds, versus 7-8 pounds for most full carbon foils). If something does break on you, replacement parts are reasonably priced with masts costing just $60-100 and carbon wings costing $500-600 each. Not bad, all things considered!
This is a fully modular foil, meaning that every piece of this foil comes apart and can be changed or replaced. As such, as your skills improve or goals change, you can add different wings, masts, mounts, and more to your foil to change how it works in the water. Slingshot has fully embraced this system and offers no less than 5 different front wings, four mast lengths, and two different mounting systems (as of early 2018), with plans for more wing options in the works. That is really good news if you'd like to try different sports like wake foiling, SUP foiling, or kite foiling in addition to windsurf foiling- all you have to do is add a different wing to your foil and off you go.
It comes with a deep tuttle mount, but you can also get a "pedestal" mount if you want to use it for kiting or SUPing on a board that is too thin for a deep tuttle box. Very versatile overall! The supplied Deep Tuttle mount has a flange on it, which keeps the foil from sinking too far into the board, and disperses the load of the foil a bit more around the bottom of the board. See also the note about fin screw diameters above.
As a side note, the Slingshot "Deep Tuttle" fin box is not as deep as some of the other foils out there. It fits perfectly with the HoverGlide foils, but not all other brands of foil with a deep tuttle mount will fit into a Slingshot board, if their mount is taller than the board's cavity. Your Slingshot foil will fit into other Deep Tuttle boards for sure, but you may have to modify your board to use the supplied fin screws (see note above).
One thing that is unique with the Slingshot Foil is their "Switch-Fuse" fuselage. It allows you move the wings further forward or backward in relation to the mast by simply flipping the fuselage around 180 degrees. This is quite handy for fine tuning your ride to your particular board, conditions, and sailing goals, especially if you're using a board with a tuttle box- You can't adjust the position of the fin box and mast with a tuttle box board, but the Switch-Fuse allows you to move the foil wings forward and backward relative to the mast. Pretty awesome!
As with all aluminum foils, it is suggested that you fully disassemble and rinse your foil after every use. If you don't, the parts might corrode and the bolts might seize. If you don't have the time or patience to perform a basic amount of maintenance, then you should probably save your pennies and spring for an all carbon foil instead. This is not unique to slingshot but applies to all aluminum foils in general.
The HoverGlide FWind1 package (what we tested) comes with their H2 front wing, which is billed as their larger windsurf wing with more lift and user friendly performance (second from the left in the picture above). Comparing it to their other wings, it sits right in the middle of the line- They offer two larger wings (primarily for surf and SUP), and two smaller wings (primarily for kite and higher wind, more performance oriented windsurfing). Comparing it to other windsurf foils, it also ends up sitting right in the middle- There are other foils with larger area front wings (Naish, AFS-1, MFC Freeride, etc), and other foils with smaller, racier wings (AFS-2, MFC Race, NP Alum, F4, etc).
Pictured, top to bottom: AFS-2 700, Slingshot HoverGlide H2, Naish Thrust Windsurf1 front foil wings.
On the water, the Slingshot performs quite nicely, offering lots of get up and go for light wind. Once flying, it will hover along at low speeds with very little sail power, seemingly forever, although you do find yourself sheeting in a bit more with the Hoverglide than on the more surf oriented foils. Keeping the fuselage oriented with the wings further forward gives the foil a very powerful lift and really gets the board out of the water quickly and easily. The foil is also quite playful, and responds almost instantly to changes in board trim or interaction with waves/swell. The acceleration when playing with a piece of chop is pretty amazing, and it lures you in to scanning the horizon for even the smallest 6" bump of water that you can play with.
If you do get powered up and decide to sheet in and go for it, the Slingshot offers plenty of stability to drop the hammer and try to reach a max speed. The hardest part is keeping it in the water, though- as your speed increases, the lift out of the relatively large H2 front wing multiplies quickly and it requires quite a bit of front foot pressure to keep it flying level. We recommend flipping the fuselage around and keeping the foil as far back as possible if you're looking to go fast and drag race your buddies. You're also going to need a really wide board to have enough leverage over the foil.
Overall, the HoverGlide FWind1 package bridges the gap between the surfy foils and race foils quite nicely- offering plenty of early flying at low speeds and plenty of playful maneuverability, while also supporting your need for speed and stability. This performance envelope is magnified with the Switch-Fuse fuselage. And long term, the performance envelope is essentially unlimited, with your ability to expand on the foil by purchasing different masts and wings. Value for your dollar? We give it an A+++!
Join the club and get your Slingshot HoverGlide FWind1 here: