He tried SUP foiling once back in March 2017 and he didn't do as well. Before I get into the analysis of the advantages of learning windfoiling vs SUP foiling, I do have to specify that yesterday he was on a Gofoil Maliko 200, while in his first SUP foiling attempt he was using the Gofoil Kai. There's two sizes difference between the two and it is pretty obvious that the bigger the foil, the easier it is to learn because of the two following reasons:
- a bigger foil foils at slower speed and that means more control and less fear (and less danger)
- a bigger foil is more stable
Said that, everything I say below applies nonetheless, even with the same size foil. This is a brief list of reasons why windfoiling is a lot easier to learn than SUP or surf foiling:
- hanging on the boom and having a third point of contact with the board (the rig) greatly helps the balance
- to get the same amount of foiling practice you get in 15 minutes of windfoiling, you probably need 5 one hour sessions of SUP foiling (and I'm being conservative)
- when SUP foiling, the speed at which you go is regulated mostly by the wave and that is much more out of your control than when you windfoil where instead you can pump the sail to accelerate and sheet it out to slow down
- overall, the face of a wave is a much more dynamically changing environment than the relatively flat surface of the ocean in a light wind day
For pretty much the same reasons, learning while towed by a jet ski is a much easier way than learning on a wave. Unfortunately I never tried that, but I did try behind a boat that made a big wake and lots of bubbles and that was pretty horrible. I'm sure a ski would be a lot better than that boat, but nonetheless I am absolutely convinced that windfoiling is even easier than that, since it's the sailor who is in charge of regulating the speed, not the ski driver. Plus, for 99% of the windsurfers, being towed by a ski is a much more foreign feeling than windsurfing (which windfoiling pretty much is, until the foil lifts the board off the water).
So, if you're a windsurfer and won't give windfoiling a try, you're missing out on a lot of fun. But if you're a windsurfer and you're trying to learn SUP or surf foiling without learning windfoiling first, you're doing an ENORMOUS mistake.
Here's the videos of both Russ's first attempts, judge by yourself.
BTW, if you're not a windsurfer and want to learn how to SUP foil, don't get discouraged by this article. The vast majority of the SUP foilers out there learned by just SUP foiling. It's just pretty hard at first, but it's definitely achievable if you stick to it. Do get a jet ski assistance first, if you can.
And while I'm at it, here's a brief discussion of large foils vs small ones.
Here's a list of characteristics that change when you change foil size (no matter the discipline). I'm going to just define them as proportional (P) or inversely proportional (IP) to the foil size.
Stability (both when foiling or just paddling): P
Drag under water: P
Speed at which the foil first starts foiling: IP
Speed at which the foil first starts getting out of control because it can't handle it: IP
Foiling speed: IP
Paddling speed: IP
Pumping ability: P
Distance you can cover on a small mushy wave: P
Below is a diagram that illustrates how the "comfortable" foiling speed ranges change when you change the size of the foil. It's only qualitative, I wouldn't dare putting numbers on it (because I don't know them). The M200, IWA and KAI are three progressively smaller models of the Gofoil foils (the ones I own at the moment). I also added the range of a high speed kite foil (never tried one, this is based on my empirical observations in the water). It might overlap a bit with the range of the surfing foil, I just wanted to exaggerate the fact that it starts foiling at much higher speed.
4am significant buoy readings
No indication of southerly energy at the buoys, the Surfline forecast calls for 0.8f 15s.
7.5ft @ 10s from 53° (ENE)
3.8ft @ 14s from 299° (WNW)
4.7ft @ 11s from 356° (N)
2.4ft @ 10s from 357° (N)
1.3ft @ 16s from 317° (NW)
6.8ft @ 11s from 73° (ENE)
Even though it's possible that there's also some low NW/N energy in the water, the Pauwela buoy only shows the easterly swell and that's what most of the waves on the north shore will be provided by today. Stay tuned for a Hookipa beach report for size and conditions.
Wind map at noon shows light onshores.
North Pacific shows NW, N and E fetches.
Little south fetch in the South Pacific.