Learning to SUP Foil... Behind a Boat
Anyone looking to get into SUP and surf foiling has read or heard that the best way to start is behind a boat. Not having much in the way of patience, I jumped in the ocean the day after I got my SUP foil. Now having had the opportunity to SUP foil behind a boat I would agree it is the best place to start.
For what it's worth I have been water skiing, bare footing, skurfing, wake boarding, etc. for over 30 years. Needless to say I am very comfortable behind a boat. Despite my experience I would say SUP foiling behind a boat is insanely easy.
Just stand on the paddle board with the rope in your hand and go about 8 mph. In no time you will feel the board lift and you will be foiling. While not required, position yourself outside the wake for a smoother flight.
The real value of foiling behind the boat is the extended flight time. Instead of trying to catch and surf a wave with only seconds of flight I was able to comfortably focus on the nuances of maintaining flight. That said one thing I noticed was how much my back leg hurt foiling. My rear quad was on fire. I couldn’t find a way to relax it while in flight. This got me thinking about foot placement and foil position. I reached out to some of my buddies whining about my pain. They indicated that some burning in the back leg is normal but also suggested moving the foil forward.
At this point I had the foil positioned dead center of the box. For my next boat session I moved it as far forward as I could. Before getting in the water I noted the location of the mast relative to the top of the board. I wanted to test the difference in flight based on where my back foot was placed on the board.
As soon as the boat began moving it seemed the foil popped up. There was no doubt moving the foil forward made a huge impact. It took much less speed to fly. I was able to weight my front foot more giving my back leg a little break. Playing with foot placement I noticed things felt better with my back foot directly over the mast or slightly behind it.
With this set up I was able to start experimenting. Pumping the board also felt intuitive. I was able to pump the board to maintain flight and adjust my altitude as necessary. With subtle adjustments between my front and back foot, I could fly as long as I wanted. I could also choose the altitude I wanted to fly and maintain it with relative ease. The only limiting factor was the burn in my back leg. For the first time I felt I had control over my altitude.
My brother was able to join me on the boat. He is a surfer and wake boarder but had never SUP foiled before. Behind the boat he was able to fly on his first attempt. I mentioned this to say learning to foil behind a boat first will definitely shorten the learning curve.
In just my first session behind the boat I probably got more flight time than all my surf foiling sessions combined. Being behind the boat on an endless wave so to speak gives you the time to work out foot position, foil placement, and maintaining altitude. I think is a safer place to learn as well than in the waves. After my two sessions behind the boat I was anxious to get back in the surf.
More to come.