Foil board discussions – particularly surrounding wing foil sleds, as wing foiling is the hot topic of the day – often focus on volume. Whilst volume can be used as a guide it doesn’t give the whole picture of what a foil board will feel like. In particular how stable it’ll be at rest and how it’ll feel once flying. And feel is everything…
Foil board width.
An overlooked measurement when talking foil boards is width. Width, and more importantly how and where this is positioned in the design dictates so much more than what volume alone suggests.
My work over the years has seen in excess of 2000 stand up paddle boards tested. It quickly became obvious how board width and the volume distribution affected performance. It’s now the same with foil boards.
Whether SUP foil, wing foil, windfoil, foil surfing, foil pumping, eFoiling and so on the width of the platform in question can make or break sessions, depending on conditions, rider experience, other equipment being used and his/her wants/needs.
Volume distribution and tail width.
I mentioned volume distribution above. And this directly knocks on to tail width. Both should be looked at carefully. There are plenty of different shaped foil boards out there all with different profiles. And there’ll be a perfect match for you. There’ll also be those that won’t ‘fit’ your requiremnets at all.
As a real world example of how things can ‘feel’ it’s possible to have a low volume foil board (sub-110L) feel as stable, and therefore ‘big’ as something more voluminous and a narrower tailed. A widening of the back half can give an enlarged overall surface area. This will sit better on the water than narrower shapes that’ll roll and be more susceptible to things like chop. And if we’re talking sinkers, then again, a slighter wider tail will give the real world rider more balance even if submerged. Arguably more so.
Some foil boards have all sorts of colourful chines and cut outs featured on their underbelly. It’s worth noting these affect how a board behaves as well. Both at rest, when getting up and once flying.
Some foil sleds have a pronounced hull shape that actually reduces the overall width – regardless of quoted size. This can be lovely when riding high, banking into hard turns and missing the chop and/or water’s surface. But the less experienced may struggle to actually get the thing flying in the first place if he/she finds the shape too unstable to comfortably begin.
If you’re using a newer gen high aspect foil cut outs, chines and concaves may also prevent you from lifting as early as a board with a flat hull and hard water release edges. This topic was discussed in depth here.
The top of foil boards come with various design traits. Some are flat while other feature curves with raised rails with sunken centre line sections. And yes, you’ve guessed it, whatever the shaper has created will ultimately dictate (in tandem with other features) how the board feels. A concaved deck, with narrow tail and hull chines at around 110L will feel much smaller than something 90L, with a wider tail and flatter deck/hull. But you’ll lose a degree of responsiveness with the latter.
Foil board rocker.
There’s also the element of rocker to consider. Some foil boards have more rocker than others. And this will dictate the angle of attack of your foil. There’re plenty of reports of foilers having to shim their foil mast to counteract the board’s rocker and get their foil’s angle of attack set correctly. In particular, if you’re riding a foil from a different brand to that of your board, where the designer has optimised the two component parts’ pairing, there could be issues.
Ultimately there’s no way any rider can accurately classify a foil board by volume alone. So many more elements come into the mix. I appreciate this may be more headache inducing for anyone searching for their perfect foiling partner. The good news is there’re plenty of ‘foiling oracles’ around who can impart knowledge and steer you accordingly. Do your research, consider your information sources and you’ll come good in the end.
For more foiling knowledge check out the following.