Has Foiling Hit a Plateau?

I’ve noticed that when I go on Instagram I scroll right over most of the foil content now. Anyone else notice this?

Is the exponential growth phase over?

Hints we may be nearing a period of relative stability:
-Be honest, Instagram foiling clips are rarely interesting anymore, except for that one of Cash at the GWA contest…
-Most brands now have good/great foils and they haven’t really improved in at least a year
-Many advanced foilers have moved to SUP downwinding, arguably the most boring sport to watch/film and with the only major milestone being “aceing a run”. For a sport that flourished partly due to Instagram pushing advances and showcasing new technology it’s difficult to get excited about downwind runs with selfie-sticks (even knowing how hard it is).
-Surf culture is actually slower to take up foiling than we thought, or at least they are hiding in the closet about it.
-Finally, FoilDrive is changing our attitudes about what is acceptable and making everyone a little existentially uneasy (like ChatGPT in business has done for the business world)

Any opinions?

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All that being said I personally still absolutely love to actually foil and do it almost every single day (usually twice a day), I’m just talking about the hype and progress of the sport

Maybe an instagram plateau. Not a real world plateau. IMO the boards, wings, foils are all getting shockingly better right now. Social media content has always been boring to me. I like to ride and I don’t try to emulate riders from instagram so I don’t feel any loss with that front.

Foiling has never looked cool to me. Kiteboarding and surfing always look WAY cooler. However, the accessibility and FEEL of foiling is what’s unique and what makes it special. If people try it, then they get excited.

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I think its that most of foiling instagram is now the best foilers who sold out to shill Foil Drives. They are heavy and draggy lol.

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Yeah I’m noticing a few things lately - the second hand market has bottomed out with good gear a year old hardly even reaching half retail. You almost have to give 2nd hand stuff away. The proliference of bloody gopros with long uninteresting videos.
More than that I think the numbers of foilers has stagnated. I know of only one person around here that has taken it up this summer whereas the last couple of summers there was quite a few starting out. I think those that were interested in foiling have come from a watersports background & habe already started. I can see the market getting pretty saturated this year & some companies will be struggling.
What always gets me though is the amount of money people out there have that unfortunately I don’t have. $11K for a tow boogie? $10K for a foil drive? Crazy money

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Prone has definitely dropped off at my local & I really like this as it’s less crowded just like it was when I started 4-5yrs ago.

Down winding now seems to be growing & more & more experienced foilers are getting into it (me included).

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I’m going to define the problem as, foiling has reached a level where you either have to surf actual waves next to actual surfers. Gross. Or surf out in the middle of the ocean, since we were promised waves no one else wants.

So it is improving in ways that no one wants to watch. DW videos are cool in a race, or insane conditions, or coach follow cams. Other than that, no thank you.

Or it’s guys doing stuff that is otherworldly in waves, whether that be strapped flips, strapless airs in the pocket (not chop hops on the shoulder), getting barreled, going so fast you need to wear a motorcycle helmet.

For the average foiler, we’ll resort to foiling off shore somehow. (Wing for me, but I do know how to paddle now and might try failing on an run again soon) The feel is amazing still, no one wants to watch it.

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My thoughts: I actually think foil drive looks cool, but all the influencer marketing on social media is making start to resent foil drive. It’s so over the top with every single big name rider.

Social media: I’m obsessed with foiling still, 3 years in. I think about it all day, I want to watch it all day, and am still having breakthroughs. I am sick of short clips, I much prefer watching “raw” footage. I want to see someone link 3 or 4 waves, not one big turn.

Foil growth: we have a 30+ riders in our prone group. Half the group is proficient and linking multiple waves (aka: making it look fun). The entire group mostly rides together in secluded areas. I feel the growth of foiling in my area has now slowed down because most surfers aren’t seeing us anymore (what fun foiling looks like in person). I have a feeling if most of the proficient riders from my county would split up again and surf down the beach from all the popular surf spots, it would pull more riders into the sport.

I also feel that only intermediate riders (linking 3 waves+) to advanced riders are making the sport appealing to anyone. Most average surfers aren’t going to make the jump unless it looks incredibly fun and beginner foilers don’t make the sport look fun.

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I do think that the big names going to powered riding, even if it’s just for a few promo vids, is a turn off. For me it is anyway, I have zero interest in powered foiling and honestly just lost interest in Josh Ku and other big names as soon as they started riding powered. Not criticizing those guys for their choice, just they definitely lost my interest.

As for foiling poor waves, I don’t understand Hdip’s point about surfing near surfers. I did get into foiling to allow me to have fun when a surfboard would not. If you are going foiling at great surf breaks, why not just ride a surfboard and get barrelled and hit the lip?

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Agree with the disinterest in foildrive content. Not going to say I wouldn’t try one as a novelty, but the content is really not interesting and there is so much of it being forced to me. Not easy to make a living foiling, so you gotta do what you gotta do, but it feels lame to me as the consumer.

Plenty of runway for foiling and I’m still completely stoked on it, but other than getting more people onto foils, foildrive ain’t it.

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I think there is something to be said for what I’d call ‘relatable foiling’ on socials - as in can you as a viewer aspire to do that with a bit of time & effort? Prime example for me is a prone pop up… so many pros just edit that part out, but it’s the hardest bit for me to break the habits of a lifetime of surfing.

This is where a lot of current social media loses me: it’s either so far and away past what I could ever see myself achieving (too old and broken from surfing), or too expensive to realistically aspire to - it’s hard to justify the cost of a foil/ wing/ board compared to a surfboard, a quiver to be able to make the most of all the conditions is too much beyond mortgage and family for me, and foil drives/ foil boogies/ jet skis even further out of reach.

Whilst the occasional clip like Cash at GWA is amazing to witness, the relentless FD content via every channel gets very boring fast.

My fav stuff to watch is stylish riders including the bad/ real bits. The ‘push of pro’ is what burst windsurfing’s bubble. But if I’m honest I want just enough take up to keep the r&d coming and bring the price point down, whilst avoiding the mass uptake that has made surfing a chore. :call_me_hand: :ok_hand:

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I live in Los Angeles, CA. Our waves are terrible. I’ve surfed them my whole life, they are not worth the effort of sitting in a crowd and fighting over.

This is the most accurate portrayal of surfing in LA that is out there right now. Salty Beards® on Instagram: "Happy Saturday to all my muffin hip weekend warriors 🍻📈 waves are fun if you like surfing with 948476736 people. Kings shit kicked the hawks last night. Big game vs Dallas tonight. New beer league season starts tomorrow 📉 Were you a victim today?" That is literally every session, every day of the week.

There are 3 foil waves in 40 miles of coast near me. 1 of which is dead right now due to the rains changing the sand. So I’ll just wait for wind instead.

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Makes sense, I wouldn’t surf there either.

I was just pushing back a little on the idea that “foiling has reached a level where you either have to surf actual waves next to actual surfers. Gross. Or surf out in the middle of the ocean, since we were promised waves no one else wants.”

I do believe foiling delivers big time on the promise of riding waves no one else wants. That’s why I got into foiling, and it’s the content I like the best. There are endless videos on youtube weekly of people having a great time on foils in places a surfboard would be no fun at all if you could even use it. LA may suck for foiling, but you can have fun with a foil almost anywhere there is a coastline in my opinion.

Back to the topic at hand, I do think that perhaps it has plateaued a bit in the sense that for people like me, the goal is gently gliding around in barely breaking, low power waves. That’s pretty boring to watch and all the efforts to hype it up in videos or posts just leads to saturation. I don’t really want to progress to whatever the next level is if it means I need a battery or a paddle or whatever, so I’m happy here at this plateau. It’s opened up the ability to surf in places where I couldn’t before, and I love that.

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Surf foiling can be hell unless you have good conditions for it.
My beachbreaky, close to shore short&steep waves suck.

Foil drive is what will change unridable spots into little paradises for many people.No impact on surfers confined to very tightly defined surf spots unless people get really idiotic with the FDrive.It opens so many places…

It is not the FDrive that will create problems, it is the “push the limits” and insta “lookatme” attitude that will make the hotshots (or wannabees) charge through lineups going for airs and barrels on steeper waves that are actually good for normal surfing.And then they will motor back to the peak…mmm.

Anyway, people are not a problem if you are alone out there.And elec assist allows that.

+1 to that. Case in point here in SF yesterday. Beaches blown out. Inside the SF bay at Fort Point it was 4-6’ lumpy on a mid- rising tide. Pretty much unridable without assist. So it was just me and two longboarding hopefuls. A dozen waves that touched or topped 20mph and dozens of others provided a fun ride - I’ll take that any day over sitting at home.

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Eh it doesn’t really matter to me if the pointy end of the field has reached a plateau. I’ll never be close to that level of foiling in my lifetime anyway, so I’m just going to enjoy flying around and having a good time.

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I feel like in a lot of ways my foiling has regressed as I’ve chased faster feels and smaller, HA wings to get them. A lot of this is pro riders selling the next thing but a lot of it is winging consolidation, the smaller foils are great on ding and we end up kind of meeting in the middle, riding a smaller foil in surf, to keep our feels consistent. Also, smaller is more “advanced” and we’re all aspirational

I think, for surf foiling, a lot of us would be better off (and progressing farther) following @mikepedigo and working on more critical maneuvers on giant, dinosaur wings like the 1210 and prog 170.

I would really like to hear Mike talk about riding big front foils, and doing critical maneuvers on them. Heard some about offset stance needed to aggressively ride these monsters but I’d love some details - when does he shift gears to the 140 or 125, etc.

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I’m the only foiler for 27miles of downwind winging. People are always curious about it, and ask if I teach, but nobody has joined in. Most people around have never seen anything like it; one guy excitedly met me as I was packing, exclaiming saw me head offshore directly away from him, and I was lifted off far enough away that he couldn’t see my mast. He was convinced that I was flying, and it blew his mind.

We’ll probably see crazier stuff on social media, but the same jump flip combo isn’t going to stand out after the 100th clip of it. I think the better gauge is how many subscribers and views the training channels are getting on youtube. As of this post Damien has 51k subs, and Kiteboard College has 137k subs.

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I would think the beginner growth will plateau until a few things are solved:

  1. Simplify gear choice. There’s so much to pick from, it’s very confusing for a beginner
  2. Simplify the learning curve. Learning to foil is HARD (even coming from 10+ years of surfing prior). Prog Project types of foils are probably helping here.
  3. Reduce the cost. I think this is potentially being helped by used gear, and things like a smaller quiver of boards needed to cover more disciplines, but a new setup is $4-5k for a good complete foil and board
  4. Evangelize and grow the spot in non surf-first places, i.e. Great Lakes, smaller seas around Europe, etc.
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Well, I think the beginner issue is most plagued by bad beginner recommendations. The used gear market is flooded with “perfect beginner gear” that’s actually terrible. Plus, don’t learn on gear that will be kept. Learn on beginner gear for 10 sessions and move on. However, since few people share beginner kits it’s hard for people to gain access to the sport due to costs.

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