people riding kitesurfusing a foil

Why Hydrofoiling with a Kite?” you may ask. Kiteboarding is really fun. You can do high jumps, go very fast, do all kinds of tricks, surf waves effortlessly or go cruising vast distances. Why would you want to make use of a hydrofoil to kiteboard if kiteboarding has so much to offer already?

Foiling with kite is a very unique experience and has a lot of advantages (and disadvanatages) that opens a whole new dimension to kiteboarding.

Some of the advantages using a foil with kite:

  • Better upwind ability than a race board
  • Riding in silence (you won’t believe the noise a kiteboard makes until you have used a hydrofoil)
  • Having a board that is far softer on your joints than any other board
  • Better surf-ability than a directional: a hydrofoil can even surf non-breaking ocean swell!
  • Requiring a much smaller kite (which is generally much more fun to fly with)
  • And having amazing light wind performance allowing you to cruise around in very flat water when no one else can even get out (forget about buying a bigger kite, the hydrofoil on a medium size kite gets you riding comfortably in less than 10 knots)
  • Even just the feeling of gliding over the top of the water is truly amazing!

Kite hydrofoils have a number of unique advantages over any other types of boards.

Here are the most prominent:

Surfing upwind

Hydrofoils are very efficient. Much more than any other kite board and even more than race boards. This efficiency directly translates to incredible upwind performance. My first long tack on a hydrofoil had me disorientated, because I sailed straight towards a side of the dam that should not be possible for the given wind direction.

Hydrofoils not only go upwind very well, but also very easily with much less effort than one would think. You don’t have to work hard to tack upwind a few kilometers to get away from a crowded kite spot any more. Now you can decide where you want to kite regardless of where you launched from! No worries about the wind direction. Going far upwind is as easy as kiting downwind.

Phenomenal with light wind

The hydrofoil’s efficiency also gives it phenomenal light wind performance. When the wind is too light for most people to use a twintip, then a hydrofoil is truly fun. With a 10m kite you can comfortably go as soon as the wind is strong enough to hold the kite stable at the edge (3 o’clock position) of the wind window.

And whereas a twintip is boring with winds under 17 knots, a hydrofoil will give you an amazing fun ride in these lighter winds. If you enjoy exploring the shoreline like me, then you actually prefer lighter winds even after being a mega-strong wind kite addict before.

Less drag

Since the hydrofoil has so little drag in the water, you need to extract very little power from the kite to keep going. This means that the kite will sit closer to the edge of the window and feel a lot lighter while you are riding.

When I discovered race boards I loved the fact that you could travel upwind fast and far, but it would be a physical workout. The exercise is fun, but only so far and then exploring further is not fun any more.

With a hydrofoil, you go upwind faster, and far easier. It is far less physically demanding to ride than a race board, or a free race board. Since the drag is so much less, the kite also feels completely different when you ride a hydrofoil versus riding the same kite on a race board.

On the race board, you sheet the kite out really far to trim it at the best possible lift/drag ratio when going upwind. You need a special bar system or really long arms to get the most out of your kite going upwind on a race board. But on a hydrofoil the kite sits closer to the edge of the wind window and getting the best lift/drag angle from the kite is at a normal kite sheet position.

No long arms or custom bar trimming systems needed on the hydrofoil. Since the kite is so close to the edge of the window, the bar pressure is a lot less and it might actually feel like you have a different kite.

Smooth

Kiting on butter flat water is always a treat, but kite spots with offshore winds that are safe enough to kite in are few and far between. Hydrofoils on the other hand cut through the water, so finding offshore wind is not a requirement to have a smooth ride any more.

A hydrofoil can fly over big chop and feel smoother than the smoothest of water on a twintip. Imagine standing on a flying carpet and flying half a meter above the water. The feeling is amazing and very addictive.

Silent riding

The first thing I noticed when I got going on a hydrofoil was how noisy all other kite boards are. Suddenly there is no sound! OK, maybe a bit of wind noise if you go upwind, but if you kite downwind the silence is amazing! You can even hear the white-caps breaking around you!

It is a truly unique experience to travel at speed and still hear soft sounds like your own harness strap flapping or a sailboat making a wake near you.

A hydrofoil board leaves no wake behind. If you look back you won’t even know where you just came from. The only water disturbance you can see is a soft water spray that is lifted up from the mast where the water surface meets the mast trailing edge:

Challenge your balance

The hydrofoils we use for kiteboarding are not stable. They require user input to stay up. That makes it really difficult at first, but once your muscles know what to do it is automatic and fun. Almost like riding a bicycle (or maybe a unicycle).

One would think that it would be very tiring and you would have to concentrate the whole time to stay up, but it becomes second nature. And yet, it stays difficult enough not to become boring.

Riding a twintip in light wind, when you can only “mow the lawn” (ride up and down and not do any tricks or jumps) can quickly become very boring. But riding up and down on the hydrofoil has that bit of difficulty to it that keeps it fun and interesting.

Surfing small waves

Since a foils cuts through the water it is not too badly affected by chop on the wave face and can be used to surf extremely large waves. Yet it is so efficient that it can surf small waves as well. In fact, a hydrofoil is efficient enough to surf open ocean swell and does not even need breaking waves.

By riding the swell you can surf a wave from far out, and go towards any direction on the wave face, even if the waves break everywhere at the same time and do not allow normal surfers any distance to surf it.

It is an awesome feeling when you learn to park your kite for minimum pull so that you gain your speed from the wave’s energy instead of the kites energy. Since the hydrofoil can ride back upwind phenomenally well, you can also surf more waves more often at the same spot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *