How did you learn how to pump?

I’ve noticed that all of the guys who are next-level good at prone foil surfing in my area are all incredible at pumping. We’re getting 2, 3 or 4-for-1s and these guys can get 10-for-1s.

All of the guys in my area learned to pump elsewhere via dock starts and then started prone surfing. They all say that dock starts are the best way to learn how to pump effectively for prone. Then there are other guys who just figured the pumping out just by prone foiling.

So I am curious, how did you get really good at pumping?


Nothing improves your pumping quite like seeing a set out the back while you’re stuck with a small surf wing in a foamy hole on the inside :wink:
I’ve never done dock starts, but from what ive seen its not easy and require much larger wings than what I would ever want to surf again. I guess if you have the dock and the cash, its a good way to get your cardio and muscle memory tuned.

In the surf there’s many other variables that affect your pump. Need to develop reaction to currents, learn to glide through foam, height control over reef, turning into oncoming waves, etc. Also for me there’s no point making it to the back on a large HA wing when it throws you off on the first carve.

Nothing beats time in the surf. The more recent surf wings pump easy. After a few years on prone, and moving from large slow HA wing to smaller MA wings, I’m managing 3-1s and having fun on the wave. Doesn’t sound like much, but for a fat-unfit-50yo it’s not bad either.

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Dockstarting is a good, if not the best, way to do it, bigger front wings help but if you can get a running start you can dockstart your small wave or daily surf frontwing.

Towing would be “easy way” as you don’t have to learn to dockstart, but I personally don’t find dockstarting harder than water starts when towing.

Other option is trying to pump while winging with a flaged out wing feels very clunky but I guess it’s better than nothing.


best way i guess is pumping from a tow, as ur able to pump smaller wings. if docks arent your thing, the next best option is foil drive, with the added advantage of being able to use it in the surf. but you are limited to bigger foils like dockstarting. the smallest foil i could get up on the 2-blade prop was the 1201, which is not a surf wing

I just recenty began with dockstarting and it has made a significant improvement in pumping ability - while proning on a much smaller wing. now while proning i dont get tired that easily and can cover so much more distance. part is general fitness other is better pumping technique. dockstarting is definitively a good complementary practice to improve your overall proning.

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Yeah foil drive is a great way to learn as you can get up on foil near instantly flat water or surf, pump a bit, rinse and repeat

Not sure I agree you are limited to big foils though I get my P125 (800cm2) up with a 29L prone board and 2 blade prop until about 20% battery remaining then I need a wave to help chip in.

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I don’t know if its the best way, but the question is “how did you learn to pump?”.

I first figured out pumping on waves - especially a reef wave that broke and then backed off into weak swell. I had to pump a bit to stay on the weak part of the wave - so part pumping and part wave powered. That got me going, but I couldn’t maintain much time before falling when pulling off the wave.

I truly learned to pump by dockstarting. Dockstarting itself was a challenge and took a lot of failure to learn. I learned it more or less by the end of two 1hr sessions. On the 3rd session, I could make most of my attempts and pump around in a big circle.

By the 4th session, I was tuning my pumping technique, smoothing out my motions/cadence, learning to correct mistakes, and improving my efficiency.

After than I could do 2 for 1s on waves. And there was still plenty of work left to deal with the realities in the ocean - getting through turbulent water, cutting across a rip, gliding up and over swell, etc.


Lately I’ve been thinking of the first stage of foil surfing as an alternate form of pump foiling. Surfers are used to popping up and riding a wave, but at a beach break I’ve had to have it beaten into me that you have to start pumping immediately. Maybe if you get a shoulder you can wait for 2-3 seconds, but otherwise it’s just another way to get situated before pumping. Maybe you got speed on the shoulder and you’re going for the connection, or maybe you have to get out ahead of the whitewater a little, or maybe you decide to turn around and try to jump over the more settled whitewater behind you, it’s all pumping, and doing it in the surf you get experience in making better decisions.

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Two things that made step function improvements in pumping for me:

  • not going when the wind is onshore

  • dock starting

I still can’t do 10-for-1s but I reliably connect waves now

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yeah in my experience, glassy is best for pumping, offshore is second best, onshore is quite difficult. Its amazing to me that even 5knots of wind makes that much difference but it really does.


How many dock start sessions did it take to to get the hang of it. And how did that impact your prone surf pumping?

100% agree with everything @Ajam said

Dockstart is 99% the launch, and very impacted by the dock setup (height, overhang, length).
If you want to dockstart, do it on a setup that is not a massive Axis dockstart foil then I think it could be useful, but those foils are so far removed from surf feeling that I think nearly pointless (you’ll need to learn on one though)

Towing likely to also be useful to an extent, but like winging it doesn’t translate that well - the reason being you let go of rope or wing, you’re going fast. Dockstart forces you to become sensitive to the absolute low end, which is what a lot of surf zone foiling requires. The reason winging doesn’t teach you to pump is a soon as you slow too much you grab the wing, exactly the moment when you start developing a feel for the near stall

(I have done it once or twice in the last year, to test out the low end of an old hyper 190 - literally next to the surf spot and yet never do it because the surf is a better place to learn)


Dockstarting is about learning the technique and also improving your conditioning. maybe there is a more effective way to build up the muscles but seems like the only way to improve pumping - is by doing more - pumping.


I still miss a lot but after 3 or 4 sessions I was doing ok.

The extremely hard part about dock starting is the first couple of pumps after landing on the board. You have a fraction of a second to transition between unbalanced recovery from the jump to pumping with cadence and if you slow down too much it’s over.

Then you go surfing and kick out of a wave with speed and everything feels 10x easier.

I learnt how to dock start in one month, but my technique was awful, so almost three months in 2020 to really pump for 20-30 seconds.
After that i started prone foiling, and it was completely different to pump out in the sea, so again, it took some months to really link 3-4 waves.

Foil drive pumping was so helpful I did it for 6 months everyday on the 1300. I took one time behind the jetski no foil drive. And my first prone foil.session was on my 1099 and I did a 3-for-1.

Foil drive is not enough on its own you need to also do it without the weight of a foil drive as it’s completely different balance.

Now that I have boat assist 24/7 in Fiji, I dont touch the foil drive besides teaching kids with it.

I learnt by dockstarting. In summer here it goes pretty much flat so I did a whole summer dockstarting on a uni 210 (a wing you could definitely ride in the surf) until I could pump about 400m. When it came to wave season again I could suddenly get to any wave I wanted so it was a real game changer in that regard. Dockstarting is the best for honing your technique as you take away a lot of the variables that make it harder in the lineup so you can concentrate on getting that foil nice and high and pumping efficiently without worrying about wind, turbulence and waves etc.

In the surf, I would add that coming off the wave early and with speed is the secret to multiple connections. If you have to punch through too much whitewater or dig yourself out from low speed you get too knackered to connect more than a couple.