A foil surfboard, also known simply as a “Foilboard” or “Hydrofoil board”, is a unique type of surfboard that is rapidly growing in popularity across the United States. But what is a foilboard, how does it work, and what kind of benefits does it provide?
What is a Hydrofoil?
A hydrofoil is a lifting device that attaches to the bottom of the surfboard. It’s basically a winged fin. When the board is stationary in the water, the hydrofoil is completely submerged, when it picks up speed, it creates lift, forcing the board and the rider out of the water.
It’s an impressive and surprising sight and although it looks like the board is defying physics, it actually works in the same way as airplane wings, albeit underwater. In simple terms, the wings push the water pressure down, and according to Newton’s third law of motion, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so this lifts the board above the water.
One of the most surprising things is that this reaction can occur at minimal speeds, often just a few miles per hour.
What are the Benefits?
Once the board is out of the water, there is no friction, so faster speeds are achievable. Turning is also easier and you can make sharper and quicker turns than you can without a hydrofoil.
Foilboards can be used on big and small waves and they give you more control during the ride.
What to Consider When Buying a Foilboard
You need to consider a few different things when looking for a foilboard, which can make it difficult to find the right board. These include:
- The Size of the Foil: The size of the wing will dictate how much lift the foil provides. Thicker foils will give you more lift at lower speeds while thinner foils provide more control at high speeds.
- The Length of the Mast: Longer masts are better suited to longer boards, as you’ll get more clearance and gain more control. However, it also means you will need to look for deeper spots and may struggle to maintain control.
- The Surfboard: The board that sits on top of the hydrofoil is one of the most important things to consider. Do you want a Longboard or a Shortboard? Where do you plan on surfing, what kind of waves will you ride, and what level of experience do you have? All of these things should be considered when choosing your board.
Summary: Using Foilboards
Foilboards began as somewhat of a novelty. There are thousands of YouTube videos showcasing their amazing properties and delighting countless commentors in the process. These videos, and the unique properties of foilboards in general, have captured the attention of a new audience and are even being embraced by pro surfers.
Foilboards are much more than a novelty and it’s likely that their popularity will continue to grow in the years to come.