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These are Nick’s tips and tricks:
Start off with body dragging by having the board between yourself and the kite. The same way you would body drag with a twin tip. Hold onto the front foot strap or the rail of the board to keep the foil sideways in shallow water.
Once in deeper water you want to have the kite to one side as you hold a foot strap with the other hand and get your foot into the strap that doesn’t have your hand on it first.
Then push the board away and get your other foot in.
With two hands on the bar bring the kite to 11 if going to the right first and dive the kite to 1 and back to 12 as you stand up on the board with it pointing down wind and all your weight on the front foot. You want to do this a few times just to get used to coming up with a foil under you. Next go for the second dive from 12 to 2 and point the nose of the board cross wind. So the motion to ride is 11 to 1 and then back to 12 to stand up, then immediately from 12 back to 2. This should be one fluid motion. Keep that weight on the front foot. You want to go slow since the front wing produces lift with speed, all you have to do is go fast and the board will lift up out of the water on its own so keep that front foot pressure.
When you first start riding since you want to keep the board down and just get used to riding with the foil attached to the board keep your feet forward in the front and back strap as seen in the pic below.
Now key differences of riding a twin tip and a foil are that we push down with our toes while we ride on the front foot. On a twin tip you curl your toes up and use the heel edge with all weight to the back of the board. With the back foot you change from toe to heel pressure to keep on top of the foil whereas on a twin tip it’s just all heel unless riding toe side. You also want to keep your body over the board and not lean back so this is done easier by having the kite lower in the window. So I recommend going on a kite the same size or a little smaller than what you would normally ride. You’ll just want to put the kite in one spot and get used to riding the board in the beginning. Eventually you’ll go to a small kite and be lit while others are on big kites.
Keep in mind that you’ll still curl your toes up but doing so will get your board to come out of the water. This is how you’re taking pressure off the front foot. As seen in the pic, my back foot is a constant pressure.
Once you’re at the desired height then you’ll have your foot flat to keep pressure on the board which is seen with my toes being down on the board.
Now back to riding or learning how to. Once you can go in a direction for a bit without falling, give a little back foot pressure which is done by just lifting up your front foot. Think of the back foot is your constant. The things that change is the front foot pressure to compensate for the power of the kite and the power of the kite changes with your input. Moving the back foot forward or back in the rear strap determines my constant pressure, allowing me to make less or more pressure adjustment with my front foot. So bend the front knee a little and then straighten it out and put pressure on the front foot quickly to come back down off of plane. You want to be comfortable coming off of the foil rather than riding it. You’re going to be crashing a lot so if you know how to come down and keep riding, it’ll help you avoid falls later that would become crashes. When you’re going to wipe out, jump off the board or stay in the straps to stop the board from taking you out. If you decide to jump off the board, push down with your front foot to make the nose of the board go down while you leap away. If you try to just come out of the straps like you would with a twin tip, the front wing is going to produce lift and you’ll find the board against your knees as you fall over it. Pushing that front foot down will give you some time to get over the board
Another way to think of the back foot pressure and how it effects your riding, it’s like the bar pressure on a kite’s turning. The closer the rear foot is to the tail of the board, more pressure you need from the front foot to keep the nose down. So if you’re finding that you’re not coming up very easily and you’re straining to stay up, try moving that back foot closer to the tail of the board.
Now once you can come up and down without falling off of the board, try to edge up wind but don’t lean into it like you would with a twin tip. Keep the board flat and point the nose up wind. Your kite is going to power up and you’ll pick up speed so be ready to put some pressure on the front foot. If you lean back, you better have the kite sheeted out and are ready to go fast up wind because you will be taking off quickly. More than likely when you do this the first couple times though, the kite will stall and your board will go up wind without you or your kite and board will be going up wind but you’ll fall off since you’re not used to the motion. Like riding a motorcycle for the first time, everything will seem fast but just give your body time to get used to it and stuff will slow down. I think about a gallon to 3 gallons of forced fed water and you’ll be foiling. I recommend a seat harness for learning. It’ll make it easier to keep that hook low till you know how to ride and a helmet for sure. Remember you are learning to ride again so it doesn’t matter how good you are at a twin tip, this is a different board and feeling. Also make sure you’re center over the board, if you have more weight on the heel edge, it’ll be very unbalanced so try different foot position and strap tightness till you feel comfortable.
If you’re coming up quickly and the board is giving you a rodeo ride and then you fall forward over the board. It’s usually that you’re not over the board enough especially with the back foot which causes the board to want to come up and go up wind immediately, which will throw you off the back of the board as it shoots up wind without you. This also known as too much heel side pressure from the back foot, causing the board to keep bucking up out of the water till it throws you. Fix it by getting more on the board and more front foot pressure.
If your feet are like the pic below, you’re going to fall off.
You want your rear foot solid in the middle of the board, this foot controls the tilts heal to toe on the foil. While the front foot is more on an angle to control the nose to tail tilts. So get the front foot more angled with the board in the strap.
If you find that you’re falling forward when you come up to foil, keep in mind that you’re doing two water starts to foil. So on the first water start, you come up with the board facing down wind and then on the second dive once you have speed is when you usually point the board up wind. So as you’re riding with the board not on foil, head down wind to keep the board level under your feet and then apply the rear pressure by lifting up your front foot and curling your toes up. You want to try to keep the board going down wind or cross wind. Once you are riding along then you can point up wind and you’ll have the same speed as the board and foil so you’ll go up wind with the board.
When we go up wind on a twin tip, you take the power of the kite, put it into your harness and then into the board so if you start up on edge, you get thrown over the board. Now you have to take the power of the kite, put it from your harness to the board and then to the foil all while keeping your speed the same as the foil board in order to go up wind and not fall off. Also keep in mind, if you go too fast, the foil can sometimes be made to go slow and it’ll produce cavitation and stall which will throw you forward. Also your feet might be too far back on the heel side edge which will cause you to fall forward over the board as the foil shoots up wind. Basically the kite is pulling you down wind as the board goes up wind.
If you find that you’re getting some rides in and then wiping out as you work the kite causing you to fall over the handle bars. This is due to that a kite produces lift when it goes up and pulls when it goes down. So when you move the kite back to 12, you need to go down wind and follow the kite. When the kite comes down producing pull, you can edge up wind against it. I want you think about when you hot launch a kite and it shoots to 12 while dragging you down the beach till it reaches Zenith. The kite doesn’t come to you, it pulls you to it. But if a kite is on its side, you can walk all over the beach with it. This is what’s happening when you foil so keep in mind, up follow the kite; down edge away from the kite. Remember you’re learning to kite all over again so when you first started and did this, you fell forward on your twin tip. Now you know how to kite and you can dump the power off and edge harder to counteract the wipeout on your twin tip. Also keep in mind; you have a few feet of rail on your twin tip to help edge against the kite, now think of just the width of the mask is what you’re using to edge with. Way less area so you’ll be more influenced by the kite’s power. You’ll see how awesome this is once you get into transitions as you come around faster than you’ve ever had on a twin tip.
If you’re falling backwards onto the foil, you’re too much toe side pressure and you’re not standing up on the board. Get tall on the board when you go to foil or your weight will be toeside and the board will follow that weight.
I felt that learning with straps was easier than strapless and my crashes kept the foil away from me. The few times I wiped out strapless, I had close encounters with the foil but, to each their own. Also you’ll find that when you first start foiling that you’ll want to take your front hand off and ride but give yourself some time before doing this. Yes it’ll be easier to ride up wind but, you’ll have less control of the kite. I see many beginners try to go one handed after attempting to ride the foil for a minute and they always over fly the kite or sink from loss of power in the kite. So make sure you’re powered up and comfortable with the speed and placement of the kite before going one handed. You know how to fly the kite so get used to riding the foil.
Once you get riding faster and faster it can be scary at first, I recommend coming off foil onto the board being on the surface of the water to slow yourself down and also being off foil to go down wind at first. Eventually you’ll like the extra speed and you’ll just boost with it or ride really fast in the gusts. I use the board tapping the water surface to slow myself all the time especially going toe side. It’s just a quick tap and I keep on foiling.