Wake Foiling Success
When we started to Wakefoil in 2016-2017, only two board options were available to learn on. You either used a Kitefoil board, which is not optimized for a wake wave, OR you used Slingshots flagship 4'10 Wakefoiler board. As the sport has progressed since then, you now have a ton of options (too many) to choose from when you begin your wake foil journey. Not all of those new options are the right place for most people to start successfully. One of the top questions we get is what board size do I need to learn how to Wakefoil?
For those who don't want to spend time hearing the reasoning for our choice, we'll skip to the end first and then follow up with the "Why." We have seen the most success for a typical "wake surf style" water start with Wakefoil board sizes ranging from 4'5" to 4'10. Thinner boards are also easier to get up on top of as well. A board like the Slingshot WF-T is a great cost-effective option for getting introduced to wake foiling. This recommendation changes depending on the specific needs of some riders, and we will explain that below.
One of the first things you'll need to learn when you begin foiling is how to control the height of your hydrofoil rig on the water. When you practice this, your board will go back and forth from planing on the water to hovering above the surface. This stage isn't always graceful and can cause your board's nose to dive towards the surface of the water. A longer board will have more surface area in front of your front foot and will aid in keeping the foilboard from diving under the water and ending your ride. It won't be easy to recover with a shorter board and will stop or lengthen your progression. As you'll see in the picture above, the 4' board doesn't have a lot of area in front of the rider's front foot. The 5'3 board has a lot more board upfront to potentially plane out and recover your ride. The sweet spot that we have seen is a board in the 4'5 to 4'10 range.
Why wouldn't everyone want to have a longer board all the time? We have experienced riders that are wake foiling with boards as short as 3'6. As your board increases in length, the "Swing Weight" will increase as well. Swing weight is the force it takes to change directions quickly and affects your board's reaction speed when carving. Shorter board are quick and agile, while longer boards are slower to react when you initiate a turn. We like the 4'5 to 4'10 size because it's long enough to learn on and still short enough that you won't need to replace it unless you feel it necessary to step up the performance. Even at 4'10, your swing weight will be at a level that can take you well past intermediate.
Most people we see learning to Wakefoil behind the boat start using a somewhat traditional wakesurf start (with different foot pressure). The rider is in the water, and the board is floating on edge in front of them. Thicker boards sit higher out of the water because of their volume than a thin board in this position. The boat is pulling the foiler up on top of the board. The thicker, higher volume board will be sitting higher, so it will take more force and balance to pull the rider up on top of it. The thinner board sits lower in the water, making getting up on top of it more manageable.
For most, what we described above will well equip them on their wakefoil journey. There are some situations where swaying away from some of these characteristics might be beneficial.
The Multi-Discipline Rider: If you plan on Kite Foiling, Surf Foiling, SUP Foiling, or Wing Foiling as well as Wake Foiling, then you may want to plan a little differently in your board selection. There is no board out there that will do all of these things well, so in most cases, something will leave you lacking. If you fall in this category, give us a call, we can help you find the right balance.
Large Volume Boards: A large volume board with a large foil will always be the easiest way to get into Wakefoiling. We mean a foilboard in the 120-150 liter range like the one pictured above by large volume. The rider can kneel or stand up to start with this size board, eliminating the learning curve of being pulled on top of the smaller volume board. It's also helpful for riders with back issues, whose conditions may be aggravated by the force it takes to get on top of the board with a smaller volume board. This board size also works well for teaching friends or as a crossover for SUP foiling and Wing Foiling.
Foiling has the potential to be dangerous. These are only recommendations based on our personal experiences since our journey began in 2016. We always recommend seeking qualified, professional instruction whenever learning a new sport. Feel free to reach out via email if we can answer any specific questions for you!