Does Dockstarting with big foils help prone with little foils?

Hey guys,

So I want to improve my pumping so I can connect more waves and I’m just not getting enough on-foil time in the surf (variable conditions here). I want to learn to pump well so I’m considering giving dockstarting a real shot.

Backstory: 40 years old, 195lbs, 10+ yr shortboard surfer and been prone foiling for 2 yrs.

In the waves I recently dropped down from the Progression 170 to the 140 and what a difference! Even though its similar in design I really enjoy riding the smaller size. I will need to dockstart on the Progression 200 because that’s my biggest wing (1290 cm²).

So here is my question: Does learning to pump a big wing via dock starts translate into pumping the smaller wings while proving?

My concern is that because the 200 and 140 pump so differently (200 slower, 140 faster taps), perhaps dockstarting the 200 won’t help my pumping on the 140 as much?

Or is it same same? Learn to pump one well and you can pump them all?


I don’t think there’s enough history/data to prove one way or the other 100%.

…but we do have a ton of data on other endurance sports (like running and biking). The only way you get faster at running distance (5k and above) is running more. In fact, whoever can run the most (typically 6-7 days a week the most amount of miles) and can avoid injury tends to be the fastest. My guess is if you want to get better at pumping, pumping as often as possible and avoiding injury would be optimal.


Yes it’s huge. Easily the best thing I’ve done for my foiling.

The thing about dock starts is that you’re going slow and are off balance right at the start. After you learn how to recover from the initial split second and transition to pumping in the flats you’ll feel like kicking out the back of a real wave and staying high is the easiest thing.

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Don’t tell me this. I’ve been struggling with pumping but REALLY hoping I could avoid learning to dock-start :sweat_smile:

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I think that’s more a function of how close you are to the stall speed. On faster wings you tend to be closer to stalling and can’t afford to make those big movements. Big wings can be pumped with those fast taps too.

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Hey there! So, I’m 40 and diving deep into the world of prone foiling, also bringing along my surfing background. Here’s the deal: the more time you spend on the foil, the better you get.

It’s like Laird said about foiling Nazare – when you’re flying that fast, it’s all about instinct.

I try to spend more time up on foil to let my brain map what its like to get that sensation locked in. I started on the Lift 120 and found that by going with a slower foil (AXIS HPS1050) I got past the stoke of flying and able to slow things down where I could start to look ahead and plan my next moves i.e. looking over the back of the wave and start connecting waves.

I’ve even started winging to level up my prone game. It’s funny, people at my shire laugh when they see me mainly going upwind and practicing my pumping skills with the wing. But time on the wing with same mast fuse foil and stab as in the surf has helped me to map out what my pumping should be and flirt with stalling and power back up with the wing.

I can do 15 - 20 miles on the wing during the same duration as a regular 1.5-2 hr prone session.


YES! That’s what I need. I often bobble and fall or lose speed.

I bought wings too for the same reason. :slight_smile: And a downwind board…

have you tried the red .5 shim it creates a bit more drag but the pumps should feel more spring loaded. also I second learning to wing. you get so much time on foil it helps your feet get more sensitive

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Dock starting is so good for your pump game. Although the bigger foils pump a bit differently, so much of the technique (especially muscle memory on the right mast height) transfers across. Also as you get better you’ll be able to dockstart smaller foils. The fact you’re in flat water removes some of the variables you get in the surf and really allows you to hone your technique. Plus you can really fine tune your equipment for the same reason, experiment with shims, different tails etc and are able to feel the differences side by side. Get on it! :call_me_hand:t2:


Thank you for this. It’s what I needed to hear. :+1:

I’m in the middle of this dock start experiment.

I’ve been prone foiling for 3.5 years, but I’ve been stuck in a plateau for the past 1.5 to 2 years. I can regularly get double dips, occasional triples, but I haven’t been able to pump to the outside to catch a bigger set wave than my original chip in. My prone foil is a Lift 150HAX.

About 5 months ago, I started doing dock starts on an Axis 1300 PNG. I can now flat water pump for over 1 minute.

My flatwater pumping skills have NOT translated over to pumping out the back in the surf yet. However, for the past 5 months, I was mostly doing dock starts and tow foiling. Not many prone sessions. During tow sessions, the rides were so long, and working on my turns, I didn’t have energy or the need to pump back outside.

Learning to pump better on the big Axis 1300 PNG has definitely improved my pump technique on the Lift 150HAX. I need to pump the 150HAX, with a faster cadence and keep a higher speed but the basic principals and pump technique is exactly the same.

Before doing dock starts, I would kick out of a wave, pump out the back with speed, everything would feel good, then I would suddenly drop out and I had no idea what I did wrong.

From doing dock starts and getting video, I can usually diagnose what I did wrong when I lose my pump out in the surf. The following are my usual errors when pumping out in the surf:
• Not getting heel lift on my back foot which helps me get higher on mast
• Not exiting the wave with enough speed
• Not getting the correct timing of my pump as I go over a bump. Pumping in flat water is a hell of a lot easier than pumping in the surf!
• I’ve been able to ride with a narrow stance during dock starts, but I’ve still got a really wide stance while prone foiling and tow foiling.

Now that we have daylight savings time, I can go for prone foil sessions after work instead of doing dock start sessions. Hopefully, by the end of daylight savings time, the dock start sessions will have paid off and I’ll be pumping out the back for 200 yards to connect onto a bigger set wave and staying on foil for 4 minutes…


i also started dockstarting the 1300, u can easily move to the 1201. Then after that, then a larger code R wing, then a larger code S wing. Once youre at that stage, youre pretty much surfing the same wing as your dockstarting.

Sounds the same plateau I hit.

All the guys I know that went past this (aside from pro surfers that made the transition to prone foiling) did so with dock starts. Curious to hear how it goes. Please report back.

Also, just sent you a message on here. Perhaps we can keep in touch around progress.

Hey Sean - what you’re describing is 100% to do with mast height which is why the dockstarts will help so much. If you’re plateauing with your pump it’s because your foil is too low in the water which makes it inefficient and means you really gas out easily unless your cardio is through the roof. Once you learn to keep high on the mast you’ll be able to connect many more waves and pump further. It doesn’t really matter what foil you’re on either as the efficiency gains are the same - you just need to work on getting the foil into that sweet spot and it feels almost like the water stiffens up and your speed also increases which is a virtuous circle. If you get on the dockstarts you can just isolate this skill and it helps no end. I taught a mate of mine who was new to prone foiling and had been doing it about a year to dockstart last summer and he’s now pumping rings round the guys who have way more foil years on him but never hit the dock.


If you’ve never dock started start on that 200 and learn the motion. Like others said it will likely help pumping in general. Once you have the hang of it don’t discount the 140, if you can get a good 5 strides in on the dock and some speed its surprisingly east to dock start. Then you get exactly what you want with some smaller foil pump practice.

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I just dock started today with @dillionaire and he told me about this thread.

For some context, I’ve been foiling for about 1.5 years, almost entirely prone sessions, 44 years old, 210lbs and have a pretty good cardio/fitness level. I can flat water pump for over a minute. In my experience, nothing has been better for my progression than dock starting. If you are serious about improving your pump game, consider this mandatory exercise. You don’t have to commit a bunch of time, and unless you are a fitness god I doubt you’re doing more than 5 minutes total of pump time… I did maybe 2.5-3 minutes in 5 runs today and my legs were smoked. Dock starting is terribly unforgiving if your fitness level sucks.

It took me a couple brutal sessions of mostly swimming in poo-water before it finally started to click. Once you get it its addicting and you’ll want to push your limits. Equipment certainly does matter so spend a little time getting geared up… don’t make things harder by using small front wings. I know nothing about that progression 200 but it sounds small to me. The smallest front wing I have used for dock starts is the Armstrong APF 1675… I have also tried the Axis PNG 1300 and PNG 1150. The 1150 is my all around favorite. I have a go foil GL240 on the way which I’m excited to try off the dock this week.

Anyway, just go practice. It will translate.

P.S - I ride an Armstrong HA 1080 prone.


As someone who went 200 attempts before finally making it much more than 10m from the dock, I will second the make it easy with a big foil advice. That said, not all big foils are the same.

I did 100+ attempts on an old style thick surf foil with a 1m span and 1900cm2 area, AR of 5 or somethint like that. Even with a good long, low dock the foil could stick out under just no luck. Biggest issue was the roll-yaw coupling from the massive anhedral that foil had. Instand speed loss from lack of anything resembling glide killed the few bobble free starts I managed in just a couple of pumps. Got rid of that foil and dropped dock starts for a couple years.

Started again this spring with a 1500cm2 foil of 6 AR, but thin and 95cm span. Much better than the above foil as it is very flat and so minimal roll-yaw coupling. Still a lot of blown starts and bobbles as the foil is so loose in roll. Made progress but just couldnt keep the speed up to go more than 5 or 6 pumps before stalling out.

After 50 or so attempts I buckled and bought a dockstart/pumping specific foil, also of 1500cm2 but 116cm span, 9.2 AR and a liftier section. About 50 attempts and I just cracked the 100m mark for the first time yesterday. So much easier due to the glide, low stall speed, and stiffness in roll.

Fitness now finally becoming relevant to my pump game. Probably 2min of pump time yesterday and I am fairly cooked today. Thank you @wenis for sharing, so reasuring to hear I am not the only one finding this demanding!

Edit: 41yrs and about 97kg in my summer suit.


I’m very similar age and weight.
Can you please list the make/model of all the foils you tried?

In order of appearance that was a Curve XL, Fluid XLT, Sirius L, all Gong.

Tried an Axis HPS 1050 for a session, but that was early on and I had no better luck than with the Curve. Have tried an Axis 1300 behind a boat, enjoyed the glide and found it hard to turn but can’t say much about the low end from that, I again had a very weak pump game at that point so I didn’t try to get outside the wake much at all.

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