SUP foiling foil set up tips for small, junky (real world) waves.

SUP foil wing design

Pics: Tez Plavenieks, Oli Lane-Peirce, James Jagger.

Foilshop UK’s HQ is a varied beast when it comes to conditions on offer for watersports. Being a rider of many disciplines will see your time maximised Vs choosing just one activity where you may end up stuck on the beach often.

Whilst not a wave/surf Mecca we do get our fair share of swell – some days even offering good size. Often, however, south coast waves in general are gutless, mushy, short period suckers that roll in slow and dump quickly close to the beach. As such my SUP foiling set up – particularly the foil – is tuned accordingly.

Tez backside flying on a small wall SUP foiling day.

Short foil masts are often promoted as being a beginner tool. Tue fact is, however, you need a reduction in length when riding at shallow venues otherwise you’re just going to ground out. As such I usually opt for a foil mast length of around 60cm when stand up paddle foiling. There’s another reason for this as well. With the waves I ride generally being less powerful I want my front foil wing closer to the power source (the wave) to aid early take offs and sustained ride height. I find a longer foil mast sinks the foil’s wings too deep and prohibits early flights. (In deeper water, with more wave energy you can go slightly longer if you wish). Combined with being close to shorelines a longer SUP foil mast severely reduces my amount of glide time. Of course, a shorter foil mast requires concentration when riding to not over foil and cavitate – particularly if you’re also using a large front wing. But you adapt and quickly learn to control ride height and respond to the foil’s behaviour as you cruise along the wave.

With a lot of sessions seeing waves around waist high or less I opt for the biggest front foil wing I can. It’s usually a low aspect wing with large surface area. At 90kg (dry) I need lift – as much as poss in sloppy waves. That said the wing does have to be nimble as I still want to turn!

Small, clean day SUP foil fun.

Some of you may think low aspect wings are slow, which is correct to some degree. But it’s all relative. I do use high aspect foils when conditions allow but likewise I don’t find the lower aspec wings I use to be prohibitive. In fact, they suit my style of rider more.

As a surfer/SUP surfer I’ve always erred towards the longboard end of the spectrum. I enjoy a decent turn and lip bash but have never been a rip, shred ‘n’ tear shortboarder. My SUP foil set up follows this trend. So whilst it’s dictated by local conditions there’s a lot in there surrounding my style of riding as well.

To aid carving I plump for a smaller, more nimble tail wing which loses a bit of leverage for pumping (although my bigger front wings lift super early anyway) and helps with a bit more zoom (speed) offering to some degree my front wing’s slower nature.

Junky days have never been so fun when you SUP foil.

Finally I usually fit a longer fuselage. Whilst some manouvreability is lost a longer fuse helps with early flying and helps control pitch better in the often flukey conditions I find myself. I want comfort and control, not squirrelly behaviour from my main source of enjoyment. Current foil trends are for riders to be using extremely short fuselages, but this doesn’t always help the rider. At least not riders setting off on their foil journey or progressing. Nor does it always suit the conditions you mostly fly in. Thid is all about real world foiling and not pro level glory hunting.

Ultimately, getting your SUP foil set up right is about asking some honest questions about where you ride, how you ride (or are likely to), what your experience level is and where you aspire to get to. It’s all well and good wanting to emulate the likes of Kai Lenny and co but realistically you probs don’t live in Maui, aren’t as biomechanically enabled and don’t posses that level of skill and/or talent. Being able to turn off the ‘white noise chat’ you find everywhere (like for instance), and determine exactly what it is you want from your SUP foiling, will allow (hopefully) the right choices to be made about your foil gear.

Carving a mushy one in SUP foil mode.

If you have any questions about SUP foiling or foiling general then get in touch with us here at FS HQ. And don’t forget to check out Folishop UK’s other articles on the Foiling Knowledge page –