What is hydrofoiling?
If you've ever spotted someone out on the water riding a board that looks like it's floating above the water surface you've probably seen someone "foiling". As a water sport activity it has been growing in popularity over the past few years. It's not the easiest activity to get to grips with but those that embrace the struggle will gain the rewards. The sensation of flying along on a hydrofoil is something pretty unique and something that can become pretty addictive.
When it comes to choosing a hydrofoil there are lots of factors to consider and it might all seem quite complicated at first glance.
- What kind of conditions will it be used in?
- How much relevant experience does the rider have?
- What does the rider want to achieve?
Some basic points to consider when it comes to foil characteristics;
- The bigger the foil the more stability it will provide.
- The bigger the foil the more lift potential it has and the slower speed it requires to lift the board and rider.
- Smaller foils are more manoeuvrable and have a higher top speed.
- Smaller foils need to be moving faster than bigger foils through the water to keep the board on foil.
At Snowdonia Watersports we are please to add Axis to our list of brands. If you're not familiar with Axis they are one of the leading manufacturers of hydrofoils and foiling equipment with a strong history in the development of all things foiling. Originating from New Zealand their products are in use across the world by a wide range of users from professional big wave surfers, elite racers, weekend warriors and first time flyers.
A typical foil setup
The front wing is one component of a hydrofoil setup. It is the larger of the two foil wings and is primarily designed to create lift. They are available in all sorts of shapes and sizes with each design being tweaked for specific conditions or riding experience. As a very basic approach big front wings fly and turn more slowly compared to smaller front wings. For most setups a fuselage connects the foil or front wing to a smaller wing called a stabiliser or rear wing. As the name suggests the stabiliser is designed to provide stability, the larger the size the greater the stability.
The fuselage is the component which connects the front and back wings together. They are available is a choice of lengths with each size offering a different riding sensation. Longer fuselages give more stability and greater pitch control. Shorter fuselages create a looser feel and can make turning easier.
The fuselage is connected to the board using a mast and baseplate. The mast can be made from a range of materials and varies in size. Ideally speaking the stiffer the mast the better it will perform. Mast length will be determined by the conditions you intend to foil in and the type of riding you want to do. Often longer masts are used in bigger conditions and for higher speed foiling. For most people a mast length between 75cm and 85cm will work.
The board you attach the foil too will, in most cases, have ben designed for a specific foil discipline. Winging, surfing (SUP or prone), downwind or dockstart/pump are some of the more commonly mentioned foil disciplines. The shape, volume and dimensions of different boards lend themselves to specific activities. If you're just starting out the added stability and extra volume provided by a large board will be very useful especially when winging, downwinding or surfing.
In terms of actual products, Axis offers one of the largest selections among any of the foiling companies. At first glance the Axis catalogue can seem vast and might leave you feeling that choosing the right foil is going to be a tricky process. Fortunately for the customer who isn't entirely sure which foil they need we are here to help. Our shop staff have spent a good amount of time getting to grips with different Axis foils in a range of conditions including flat water, surf and downwind. We'll happily talk to you about our experiences, lessons we've learnt and the kit we've used. Our demo fleet of Axis foils allows you the opportunity of trying a foil before making the purchase.
The Axis catalogue
Axis foils are classified by their name and their size. While some brands measure their foils using surface area, Axis prioritise the wingspan measurement over any other dimension. For example 1201 will be the measurement in millimetres from wing tip to wing tip.
Axis use the following names for each foil range.
SES - short for Super Easy Start - great for getting going at a relatively affordable price.
PNG - short for Pump And Glide - good for small waves, light winds and flat water.
BSC short for Broad Spectrum Carve - a good all round option that works well at low speeds making them good for novice riders and smaller conditions.
HPS short for High Performance Speed - foils that can handle more speed than the BSC range.
ART short for Axis Research Team - faster foils that offer increased glide thanks to the narrower outline, also know as the cord measurement.
More recently Axis have introduced the following ranges
ART Pro - an evolvement of the ART range to offer greater control at higher speeds as well as an impressive extended glide. Used by many of the top Axis racers to achieve podium positions at the highest levels. If straight line speed is what you're looking for the ART Pro is what you need.
Spitfire - a wing designed to make riding waves a pleasure. It can be used in the surf, with an inflatable hand wing and for downwinding. If you like making turns on waves the Spitfire is the foil you need.
As well as offering foils that cover pretty much every discipline for almost every rider it's worth remembering that many of the Axis products are interchangeable which means upgrading Axis kit as your skills improve is relatively easy.
For more details about our try before you buy service, to chat through your intentions or to book yourself in for a demo please contact us. We have PNG, ARTpro Spitfire and Surf Performance foils available to try. You can use the same link to discuss any other foiling related questions you have or to find out about any Axis products.