The Transformation of Surfing – A Rising New Trend

Author: Amy Gatlin

There’s a new kid on the block and it is quickly gaining popularity!  Watersports, like many other sports, quickly change, and athletes enjoy the new challenges that come along with it.  Foil boarding is no exception.  Wake foiling is a revolutionary style of surfing that also allows the rider to fly above the water, while maintaining low impact.

Wake foiling has many names – foiling, hydrofoiling, foil surfing, and foil boarding are just a few.   A wake foil consists of a foil surfboard, which allows a special mast and wing to securely attach to the bottom.  The height of the masts can vary, depending on the experience of the rider.  More experienced riders typically enjoy a taller mast, so they can “fly” higher.

The options with foiling are truly endless.  You can ride behind an inboard, behind an outboard, with a kite, or via the battery operated, remote controlled version.  You can ride without foot straps and have more of a traditional surf feeling, or you can ride with straps and advance into performing flips on the board.  All types of foiling work in similar ways though.  The rider will initially surf on the surface of the water, appearing to be surfing on a regular wake surf board.  Once the rider gets more comfortable and has more experience, they can adjust their weight and allow the board to rise into the air, to reach a flying position.  In order to fly, the wing glides under the water, the mast extends above the water, and the board ranges anywhere from inches to a couple of feet above the water.

One of the coolest things about wake foiling is that you can surf behind any type of boat.  With wake surfing, the rider needs to be able to stay close to the boat, and the boat has to be able to produce a very large wake.  Thus, a wakeboard boat is necessary, where the propeller is located more toward the center of the boat, to ensure safety in the event that the rider falls toward the boat.  With a wake foil board, however, the rider can surf 50 feet behind a boat, making it safe to surf behind a regular boat such as a pontoon or even a fishing boat.  Another cool feature is that the rider can pirate waves from other boats, by pumping from one wake to another boat’s wake.

Many of the top watersports brands now offer foil boards, however Ronix developed the first adjustable height mast for wake foiling.  The ability to purchase an adjustable mast allows more versatility for beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders, while using the same equipment.   Like other boards for watersports, wake foil boards come with a fairly hefty price tag.  In addition, purchasing a wake foil board can be incredibly intimidating.  I feel like I am fairly versed in knowing what size of equipment my son needs, but when we went to search for a wake foil board, I was completely overwhelmed.  With different board sizes, different mast heights, different wing sizes… top that off with a $1,500+ price tag for the setup… I was super scared to make the wrong decision.  At Lake of the Ozarks, we are truly blessed, because we have two schools that offer unique experiences with foiling – Kirby’s School of Wake and Got Lift Foil School!  Not only can they both teach you how to foil, but they can also help pick the best equipment for your size and ability.

Kirby’s School of Wake now offers wake foil board lessons, behind the Kirby’s School of Wake boat, or behind your personal boat.  Kirby said his favorite part about wake foiling is that it allows riders to have a thrilling experience, without having the high impact landings that wakeboarding can have, and that you can literally ride behind any type of boat.  Kirby’s School of Wake has demo Ronix wake foil boards for you to try during your lesson, before you make a large investment of your own.  Kirby has many different techniques for teaching individuals how to wake foil, ranging from starting with a long wakeboard rope, to starting like you are going to wake surf.

Got Lift Foil School offers eFoil lessons, from the Camp Cowell dock.  Before you buy an eFoil, you definitely want to demo boards, as eFoils have an average price tag of $13,000.  Brendan Cowell, owner of Got Lift Foil School, says that many people are beginning to trade their waverunners in for eFoils, because of the versatility, freedom, and entertainment.  In addition, they are battery powered, so you do not have to buy gasoline and get oil changes; maintenance is minimal too.  Got Lift Foil School allows riders to demo Lift eFoils during the lesson.  If you are in the market for an eFoil, Brendan can help you determine which board is right for you.  Just like traditional wake foil boards, eFoils come in a variety of sizes, brands, and have different battery types.

Whether you are looking to purchase a wake foil board and don’t know where to begin, or are new to the sport and want to learn how to ride, schedule a lesson to ride and demo some of the equipment that is available.  Kirby’s School of Wake and Got Lift Foil School both use BB Talkin’ helmets during their lessons, where the coaches can maintain constant communication with students.  This allows the students to get the best experience possible, and receive real time feedback and tips, allowing the optimal lesson.  Both programs offer a unique experience that is sure to provide entertainment and, most likely, get you coming back for more.


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