Buying stuff: Rule of Thumb

Because the surf is slow, I was thinking about how to advise beginners / new entrants to foiling, in terms of what gear to buy, simplifying the process to a rule of thumb. I think that this could be applied to any sport/hobby where the gear is changing rapidly, and the risk of buying the wrong thing is somewhat high due to the rapid development.

Imagine you have 3 versions of the gear

V1 - a stable older generation
V2 - modernised improvement
V3 - cutting edge, maybe opening a new paradigm

At the time of advising, it is unknown if V3 will maybe end up being regarded as too high performance and subsequently V4 will be a lower performance “more fun” version of V3, but at the time this is not known

The new person wants to optimise their spend, and might not stick with the sport. They can do this by avoiding older gear with limited resale and avoiding buying new and losing on the new-used depreciation.

They also may be tempted to buy the latest and greatest, in the pursuit of accelerating their progression. Or overthinking, getting sucked into reviews etc (which is truly part of the fun for some, eg me)

So, my rule of thumb. Buy a foil that meets the following:

  • second to latest generation (v2)
  • used (ideally from someone frothing for the latest)
  • intermediate or “fun” foil, not high performance

This avoids you overpaying for a foil that is either too much performance on some dimension at the expense of the others, while still lasting a few seasons and providing a good base for progression. And avoiding the risk of buying a brand new cutting edge development that turns out to be a failed experiment, or requires significant improvement.

Examples of things that would have been bad buys for someone new:

  • 1st gen carbon masts
  • the army that required the tips to be cut
  • ART for beginners (always see many for sale)
  • ??
  • I can think of many wingding examples eg inflatable boards, early boom wings etc

That’s what I came up with, curious to hear what people think?


Rule of thumb: buy whatever gear allows you to progress while feeling the right amount of frustration to keep you coming back for more. If it’s too easy it’s boring. Too hard and you just want to quit. But if it’s tough enough to see a little progression at the end of a session it’s just right.

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Yes agreed, though I wonder how to formulate that into something practical? I think maybe ruling out artificial stuff like an e-foil, yes it may make it easier, but it definitely seems to take the fun out of it (to each their own)

Also worth saying that you want something just right along the skill/challenge progression chart, and so if you have reasonable conditions and have the attitude to push through the early stages, you can probably skip the pure beginner stuff?

  • Borrow or rent the beginner stuff, and then buy a decent intermediate setup