Matt has been “eye-balling” kite and foil board gear for years and years. In fact, when we lived in Austin, Matt bought a training kite to learn to kite in 2014. As you might recall, Matt has been a water bunny for decades. He was a water-skier, knee boarder, in high school, then jumped to wakeboarding, bought a ski boat in 1993 and continued doing all sorts of crazy tricks and stunts on the wake board. He moved on to surfing behind the ski boat in around 2004/5 when it became evident that the falls were taking longer to recover from.
Fast forward to today. Matt tried foiling last year but did not have much success. The board and foil were set up for experts and he was just beginning. But he had fun trying and was not dissuaded!
Foiling is a challenging and dangerous sport. You have to be able to surf, then foil, then fly using the wing. There is the board, usually between 4’.5”-5’.5’, the mast that connects the foil to the board, the back wing which is called the stabilizer and the front wing which is called the foil”. The piece between the foil and stabilizer is called a fuselage. And of course, you have the actual “wing” that helps you fly. This is just for show, I pulled it off the internet 🙂
Step 1: Getting up and Staying Up
We hook up with our friend Chris on Sea Glub who has a foil board. Matt and Chris talk about getting up, going slow, learning the motion of the board and just moving forward (all before foiling). We use “Sweetie” to pull Matt. Getting up is easy for Matt as it is similar to surfing behind a boat. First, he is on his knees, then is slowly stands, and then he is off – surfing on a small board with the foil underwater.
After a few rises, we switch to let Chris have a go at it and then Matt is back in the water. This time he is confronted with a few waves from passing boats.
Step 2: Tapping
Matt starts to play with the foil by tapping the water. He goes up a wee bit, then down, up, then down, rinse and repeat. He is testing the foil, finding the sweet spot and trying to get a feel for the center of balance when the board is up on the foil. You can see in the below photos that the board is starting to come off the water exposing the mast of the foil.
Step 3: Foiling
Just as the sun starts to set, we get some good photos of Matt foiling. It was long and it wasn’t always pretty (bad form), but he was up and foiling on day 1!
All in all, it was an outstanding first go! Matt is hooked and eager to try again soon.
With all that said, don’t get me wrong, this was difficult even for Matt. He had some epic falls that qualified for the adjective “Christine’d it!” You have to be very careful when you fall as the wings on the foil are ridiculously sharp and can do some major damage. They are so sharp that kiters call them underwater knives!
Adding the Wing
The next step, which was very premature, but worth a try, is to add the wing kite. Our friend Chris brought it out to the beach to give it a try. We did not add it to the foiling as it was much too windy day for the combination. You can see how strong it is as it lifts Matt off the ground with ease.
Practice with the Kite (wing)
The wing is unpacked and ready to play! Matt blows up his new kite and places with it on the bow to get a feel for how he needs to use the wing to propel himself while on the water.
After Matt practiced using our friend Chris’s wing on the beach, he decided to take his new wing out for a spin using his SUP. Why do you ask did he try the SUP over the new foil board? Stability. The SUP is much bigger, wider, and far more stable than the foil board.
It was a light wind day which gave Matt an opportunity to try to propel himself side to the wind. (The first try he went dead down which is the easiest, but he is learning). I think part of the difficulty was that he was on his knees and he could not properly turn the kite without getting it in the water…but what do I know?
A week or two later Matt got the foil board out. He wanted to try to stand on it using a SUP paddle. But it was just too unstable. He went upwind to get some space from the boat and tried to balancing on his knees first.
That is when another foiler came by showing off….
Big Purchase From the States
Matt decided to pull the trigger and purchase a foil kite package from Kiteboarding.com. After much discussion with many other kiters he decided to purchase the following:
- A demo North 2022 Seek Foil board
- North 2022 Nova-Wing Size 5 kite
- North 2022 sonar carbo Eidition (CF85)
- Sonar Reflect Front Wing 1850R
- Sonar Medium Aspect Front Wing (MA1200)
- Mystic 2022 Start wing foil board bag
- Life vest
- Tow rope (to practice towing behind the dinghy)
We had it all shipped to Fiji Freight along with some other items that we thought we “needed to have.” Wow, Fiji Freight provides excellent customer service! They are super knowledgeable and very reasonably priced. We had 5 packages sent and the arrived, cleared customs and were delivered to us in Port Denarau within 5 days!
Matt could not wait to assemble the board! We got back to the boat and he started right away.
Stay tuned for more training adventures as Matt learns how to master this new sport!
The events from this blog occurred in mid-August 2022. Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events. Did you catch our last blot post where we 2 out of 3 races in the Musket Cove Regatta 2022?