We’ve talked a lot about hydrofoils in this series but we appreciate that those of you reading may yet have the knowledge regarding foils, types of foil and their differences. Whilst McConks doesn’t supply foils (yet) for this part of the windSUP/windsurf/wing surf/wing foil guide we thought it a good idea to shine a spotlight on them.
Hydrofoils are made up of five component parts: foil head (the bit that attaches to your board – either deep Tuttle or US Box track mount); foil mast (the upright strut); fuselage (the long strut which the foil mast attaches to and has front and rear wings attached); front wing and stabiliser (the foil‘s rear wing).
A lot of companies manufacture their foils in modular fashion. Differing fuse lengths, mast lengths, front and stab wing sizes are all interchangeable meaning riders can mix ‘n’ match and find a set up that best suits their style or styles of riding.
Modular foil components and hydrofoil sizing
For wing foiling mast lengths usually between 70cm and 90cm long is best. The longer foil mast gives more leeway in terms of overfoiling (or cavitation) when flying along. SUP foilers, meanwhile, will tend to opt for 60cm-70cm foil masts as they’ll be riding in shallower water. Shorter masts can also be a bit zippier for tighter turns.
Longer fuselages will help with earlier take offs and give better stability with shorter being better for manoeuvrability.
Front wings is where you find the majority lift from hydrofoils although rear stabiliser wings also provide this. With some rear stabs you can alter the angle of attack to induce earlier lift or more control. And depending on where you place the foil mast along the fuselage will also affect lift as well as overall feel of the foil. Being able to move the foil wing forward or back will allow riders to find the perfect balance. Centre of lift should ideally be between front and back legs but as you get better you may want a slight front foot bias. Modular foil products allow all of this tuning – you as the end user just need to tweak until you discover best fit.
Low aspect vs high aspect
In general you get two types of hydrofoil wing: low aspect and high aspect (you can also get medium aspect wings but these tend to lean towards either high or low aspect designs depending on the brand). Low aspect wings (generally) give earlier lift but are slightly slower (slow speed being relative in the grand scheme of foiling). They’re usually easier to manoeuvre and offer better rail to rail stability. Low aspect wings have a wider chord (nose to tail) and resemble shovels.
Higher aspect foil wings, in contrast, are thinner and narrower. They can still have considerable span – especially the types designed for super light wind or uber small wave performance – but are generally faster.
Most foil wings are manufactured in pre-preg carbon although some brands do offer alternative construction materials such as G-10. Carbon is generally seen as the highest performance material. A full carbon hydrofoil set up will offer the least amount of torsional flex so is arguably more efficient.
It’s not uncommon to find foils with a mix of aluminium and carbon. The foil mast and fuse are made from alloy whilst the wings remain carbon. Some companies also use steel. Full carbon foils are the most expensive whilst alloy/carbon are cheaper. For the everyday foiler carbon/alloy, from a reputable brand, will be more than adequate – in fact, you may never need to change to a full carbon set up. If you get into the high performance end of foiling, such as tricks and moves (where air time is a thing), then you do run the risk of breaking/bending foil parts. That said, plenty of riders do this kind of thing on non-carbon foils without issue.
Foils for winging
If you’re looking at wingfoiling, and wondering what foil to stump up for, then consider that winging is a low power discipline. Therefore a foil set up with a larger front wing surface area is a better call for average weight riders (80-90kg) looking to wing in moderate breeze (15-20 knots) and achieve the earliest amount of lift. Smaller stature wingers will get away with smaller wings.
As you progress, and your skills improve, it’ll be possible to drop the front foil wing size and increase elements like speed and/or manoeuvrability. But, keeping hold of your bigger foil wing will always be worthwhile if you plan on tackling super light breezes around 10-12 knots.
There are now lots of brands that produce hydrofoils for all kinds of flying. It’s a bit of a quagmire when you’re first starting out as you can’t demo kit if you can’t actually foil. There is, however, lots of advice available online, and here at McConks we have access to reputable knowledge so could point you in the right direction. We’d also suggest getting a lesson a good idea. Wing foiling, SUP foiling and foiling in general is super fun. Gear has got a lot more user friendly so there’s no better time to learn. Hit us up with questions you might have about hydrofoil, wings or windSUP/windsurfing.