This is my first post, so go easy on me. I’ve spent the last couple months down a bit of a foiling rabbit hole, reading this forum, listening to podcasts and trolling various websites. I was able to take an eFoil lesson and I’m now even more intrigued. I’m ready to make the next step and get some gear.
I’m in Northern California, SF Bay Area. My interest is in prone foiling (maybe downwinding in the future). I’ve been surfing for 30+ years. I ride shorter boards (5’8"[ish] 32[ish]L). I’m 80 kg. We have two local shops selling foils. One sells Axis and the other sells GoFoil and Jimmy Lewis boards. The used market seems a little confusing. I don’t mind buying new. I like the idea of supporting a local shop, but don’t mind ordering online if that seems like a better option. I would ideally like to stick to single brand for awhile and get used to their ecosystem. I understand this is going to be challenging and there is a very steep learning curve.
I have an opportunity to spend a long weekend behind a boat practicing in mid-August if I have gear. So I’m looking to make that happen.
Is there any consensus on new set-ups/brands that will help me get to where I’d like be (surfing and pumping)? If you were starting today, what set-up would you start with?
Would getting a board under 40L to aggressive and just lead to frustration?
I wear a Gath now, but it’s up to you if you want to wear either. I didn’t when I learned. Trying strapless airs I started to feel like it would be a good idea. I’ve never been hit by my foil in my head when foiling. I do however bump the mast or fuse against my helmet a lot when carrying it. Maybe that’s because I wear a helmet now and don’t think about that aspect anymore.
Winging also I think a helmet is useful since you’re going faster and can fall in more dangerous ways.
Picture the rails of your board as the sides of a box coming up vertical. Stay inside the box. Do not lean outside the box over a rail. Never correct to the high side. Very subtle movements is all you need. No leaned over drag your hand on the water bottom turns for a long time. It’s honestly much safer than people expect. Which is mostly because you’re riding sub 1 foot waves when learning. (and having the time of your life!)
When you do fall, get 2 feet away from your board. You have a 2 foot mast, so if you can clear the board by 2 feet you clear the foil.
In a big safety kook and wear everything. Of course the helmet. The impact vest is more for crashing into the water at high speeds from high altitudes. Also I wear the Wip long john protec. Or you can get a shin guard and wear it under a wetsuit pants. The most likely place you’re going to get hit is your shins and other parts of your legs.
Personally, I am a big fan buying used for a first setup. There’s lot of stuff out there that’s great and will be 1/3 of the price of new. You will make mistakes, hit bottom, run into a door while carrying it, etc. I feel like things are changing so fast that it’s better to kook out the first year on something cheap and then invest in whatever is new in a year.
I am beginner level, 80kg as well, and here’s a bit of things I’ve learned that I feel that simplify it a bit:
Front wing area: stay over 1000 cm or 150 inches
Mast: 28” or 72-75cm seems a popular surf size to start on
Back wing: cheaper to swap out and many used options online
Board: I’m on a 4’10 45 L board. A bit big for where you are probably, but nice for our small waves.
Good luck! It’s so fun and hard and rewarding all at the same time.
I live in the Bay Area and know of a couple used boards in the size ranges you might be interested in. Will DM.
I would go 45-50 liters in volume. 40L probably fine also, slightly larger board will be less sensitive and more stable, you’ll get more waves more easily, same as anything else in surfing. Your call on whether you want to start bigger and have it easier or start medium and have it harder. Getting your wave count high fast is important. People tend to forget how hard it was in the beginning and can give recommendations based on their skill level now.
Foil in the bay area you will have a very easy time finding Axis F one and Armstrong. Would look for a 1000-1200 area wing. Would pick any 3 of them at this point and eventually you’ll know what brand you want to move to permanently after.
Definitely wear the helmet and vest behind the boat. I haven’t had problems in the surf but when learning to tow I got knocked around a few times. The pattern was “fall down, forget to let go of the rope, land in front of the board, board catches up”
Also for prone 90% of the challenge is popping up or pumping out so you could skip the whole boat experience
Learning to foil behind a boat in glassy conditions, with zero swell, is the easiest method.
However, your first prone board might not make it easy to get up on foil behind a boat
If you can get a tow specific foil board that has low volume (under 20L), then you can do water start similar to a wake surfboard like in this video (easiest method to learn):
If you go for the tow foil session with a higher volume board, then installing at least the front strap will make it easier to do a wakeboard style start.
If your prone board doesn’t have strap inserts, then you should learn to do a sinker/deep water start, where you balance on top of your board in a crouched position. This puts the least amount of stress on your body when getting pulled up, but it will take some time to learn to balance over your board. You can practice balancing on your foilboard before the boat session.
Lastly, tell the boat driver to keep the speed around 10 mph. You should practice skimming along the surface before trying to get high on foil.
Thanks for all the advice! Much appreciated. I came across someone selling a couple Appletrees. A V2 4’10" 41.5L and a Skipper Prone 4’7" 40L. Both are current models. Great price. Anyone have any experience with these? Thoughts on these as a first prone foil board? Any issues with pairing these with Axis foils?
I have the 4’10 41.5L. Appletree is amazing since you can ding them and leave them unrepaired. They are lighter than other boards, and given they are basically the same price as the mass-market asian-factory made boards, its a no-brainer.
The 4’10 paddles really well and is super easy as my first prone foil board. Coming from a background of surfing shortboards and minimals.
Can’t help you much with beginner gear as I’m in the same boat - I got a lightly used Unifoil setup with the 210 and 170 progression wings. I’ve only tried the 210 and it seems fine, though I’ve been surfing a long time so am used to paddling and the popup. Currently using a cheapie 5’10 Slingshot at around 50L which paddles a dream but is huge when I finally get up. Plan is to drop down to the mid 4’ length and keep volume in the low to mid 40L range. I want the volume for paddling, and less swing length when I’m on foil (or that’s my current theory!).
There’s an LA Whatsapp group with a ton of info floating around - specifically I was chatting w a guy who regularly prones Bolinas. I love Bo for longboarding, and can totally picture it being a great foiling wave (except for all the people of course).
Do you like the SF 960 for winging and wake/pump as well? I’m advanced wakefoiler looking to upgrade from 910 knowing I’ll lose some pumpability. Would only expect to use the SF960 in stronger winds. I’m 76kg wing an opp to sell my 910. Torn between 910b, 960 and HPS 980. Thanks for any intel!
Interesting question. I would message Spoiledbythefoil on instagram. He’s got all the spitfires and is on the boat regularly.
Still haven’t ridden a spitfire, so this is 3rd hand knowledge. (I have ridden the 910b) the spitfire’s will be much faster and feel smaller than the 910b. Not sure what that translates to for the wake though. Maybe just have to turn more.