Struggling to get opportunities to pump off the back and connect waves

I’ve now been prone to foiling for 6 months and I’m still struggling to get opportunities to get 2-for-1s. I’m 39, 185 lbs, 5’10", avid surfer / shortboarder. I live in Tofino, Canada which has mushy beach breaks.

I have a decent foil setup. I can pump on flat water for 100m+ (letting go of a seadoo tow at 17mph). I get a lot of waves and can cruise around. YET I still am getting so few opportunities to pump out and connect waves.

I can take off pretty consistently and get up on foil. I can go down the line. But then I can’t seem to find good sections to foil out the back. Often its closeouts, punchier steeper or whitewash sections.

So WHY am I not getting opportunities to pump out the back?

Some hypothesis:

  1. The waves here are a lot of small closeouts. So it seems like waves either dump on an outside sandbar and turn to whitewash that isn’t strong enough to push me up on foil. OR the waves miss the outside bars and dump on the inside. There are exceptions to this but it seems to be the norm this summer. Seems like its just a tough place to do prone foiling.

  2. Not getting enough speed from the wave. A friend who is better than me said that when he started getting more speed from the wave it set him up better for exiting the wave. I am often riding in the flats.

  3. Wrong positioning. I noticed the better foilers here (there’s only 4 of us) often catch smaller mushy waves, pump around on the inside until the whitewash dies in 1 ft of water and then they start to pump back out. I can’t seem to figure out pumping around in 1 foot of water for 10 seconds while you wait for the wave to die.

  4. My gear? It’s a great setup, but perhaps I’m missing something?

  • 2023 Armstrong FG Surf board 4’10"

  • Lift HA 150 ha x (after starting on the 200ha and the 170ha)

  • Lift 32 Glide rear wing.

  • 28" lift mast

My guy feeling says its #s 2 and 3 that are the issue. I’m not focusing on tapping the power of the wave like I would shortboard surfing. And it seems like the better prone foilers sit further inside and just take mush and pump around.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

So I have found that it is all about timing the sets. In other words go on either the first wave of the set then pump off and connect to others right after it. As far as connecting vertically keep in mind you need speed to approach. Think of it like riding a mini ramp on a skateboard. You need to go transition to flat to transition in order to keep hitting that copping. Also don’t pump straight out. Pump at an angle. That angle will help you connect the wave without going right towards it. Also pumping at an angle is more efficient in the idea that you’re not going against swell you’re going with less force on your wing. Keep that mast high too. You are going toward something that is higher so if your mast is low you’re just going to go through the wave not over it. Hope this helps.


My closest spot is also a shallow beach break, and when I get a shoulder (to lean on as I call it), party time. But that’s rare, here we have to learn to jump over the white water. The best guys here basically do it all the time now, so they paddle in later than me, since I’m still a bit slower and so want more time, get up and going, pump out into the flats a little while waiting for the ww to settle a little, and right before grounding even high on the mast there’s slight turn through it, with a strong hop going in, glide, and grave dig.

My current problem is that turn out. I often get locked into it while hopping, so I’m actually thinking about going from the k2 1400 to the og 1300 LOL in small surf to help my turn control. It fits in the 980 bag so it turns well like shown in the fame thread.


I surfed two days in Tofino years ago. Such a cool surf town! But the surf was pretty solid, non-stop and closeout-y for sure.

You are right… not an easy foil setup on those beachbreaks!

Can you find a smaller corner like the one at the Wickinannish Inn…. A spot where the waves are a bit smaller and a bit more broken up…. To find some better chip ins? Wick Inn was a bit smaller than the bay.

You will still do the shallow water pump. But if you can find something smaller and more broken up it will give you more chances to pump out the back cleanly and get into the good stuff… the bigger stuff farther over in the bay. Ride a long way. Then don’t paddle back out. Walk the beach back to the corner at the Wick Inn and chip in and do it again.

When you get a good chip, and a clean path out the back, milk it as far as you can. The bay is awesome. You could have some epic high speed lines there! Then walk it back around.

Maybe I am totally wrong, or the days I surfed weren’t typical. But based on my memory that seems like a fun way to foil there!

Cool place to live man!

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The big challenge there is that you need to kick out of a face there mostly parallel to the beach, with high speed, before banking out a bit with each pump. Hard to do dancing along the top of that closeout lip line. So you have to carefully pick your opportunities.

The other path is what the good guys there are doing. Pumping along on the inside until they see a window to get out.

Maybe there aren’t chips in on that corner like I thought?

Maybe at a higher tide?

Judging from your still pictures… looks like you’re still developing your balance on the exit. The one picture looks like your shoulders are over your hips, your shoulders should be over your knees when pumping

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Probably your local setup makes it tricky, I have the same issue with local spots and close outs, discussed here.

The thing that caught my attention, your pumping is probably far worse than you realise. If you are getting towed up to speed on the ski on flat water you should be able to pump “very far”. The reason being that you are able to perfectly setup your feet, stay high on the mast, get the cadence right, test pump then let go of the rope. Pumping off the wave you are going very slow, feet wrong, sea is bumpy, you’re out of breath etc etc. Work on your pump.

Lift HA 150 ha x is certainly too high aspect for your surf spot? Can you connect waves on the 170? If not then stick to that. If the surf zone is choppy and aerated water then definitely stick to a medium ~7 aspect foil until you are linking. You need a 4x4 style foil for closeouts, and the 10.1 on your HA X is the opposite.

From another thread, useful advice


Bringing it full circle, that “useful advice” in another thread was from me!

I agree based on just the two photos the pumping technique looks too up and down and not enough driving forward.

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The “useful advice” was from @lewis though I’m sure yours was too

Ah, haha, whoops. Sounded just like something I’ve said a lot. Great advice Lewis! Ha.


The waves on North Chesterman (Wik Inn) are pretty steep and punchy most days. That’s known as our best shortboarding beach. Which peak are you talking about? In front of the rocks?

Wow! Thanks for all the supportive and thorough replies!

To summarize, the key points that stood out:

  • The conditions in my area are more challenging but possible to learn in
  • The real key in connections is getting off the wave with more speed. To do this I need to tap more power from the wave and stay high on foil.
  • Choosing the section to kick out on is important. Often this means kicking out of the first wave early to go after more out the back. Waiting too long results in losing speed or getting closed out on.
  • looks like you’re still developing your balance on the exit. You shoulders should be over your knees. your pumping is probably far worse than you realise. THIS IS TRUE. I have a lot of work to do with body posture, arm rhythm, not flailing, keeping my arms down etc.
  • Lift 150 ha X might be too HA for my surf spots. If the surf zone is choppy and aerated water then definitely stick to a medium ~7 aspect foil until you are linking. You need a 4x4 style foil for closeouts, and the 10.1 on your HA X is the opposite.

Common mistakes when learning to pump (especially for ex-surfers) include not kicking out early enough, only kicking out once you’ve already started to lose speed, pumping up and down instead of projecting forward, staying too low while pumping, and most importantly staying too low on the mast.

Thanks for all the support. Will report back after a few months of practicing the above.

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