One is interested in reading about the transition from beginner foils to high performance foils. For example: going from a Slingshot/Liquid Force/Cabrinha/Airush/F-One to Sroka/J-Shapes/KFA/Sword/Spotz/Banga/Alpine. How long did you spend on the beginner foil before upgrading? How was your learning curve? Is there anything you would recommend doing differently now that you are an confident or experienced foiler. Tips or pointers? Or maybe you just learned straight up on a good foil. Whatever your experience, I am interested in reading your account.
Edit: just read your title again, "confident or experienced foilers"..... I'm neither.
I'll get back to you.
I decided to jump in the deep end and am learning on a KFA Mako.
I have only got out on reasonable choppy ocean a couple of times so far and not a lot of success yet but felt a bit better and went a bit further the last time.
I am still waiting for some days with good conditions when I have the time to spend a couple of hours.
I am still fairly heavily addicted to downwind SUPing so am just taking it easy and getting out on the foil occasionally, most of the time it is to windy lately so I have ended up kiting with my surfboard or SUPing.
I went from a Carafino foil which was ok, fairly slow but easy to get the hang of things but would only go to a certain speed before it would max out.. to a KFA mk3, it was also easy to ride but a lot faster and would let u go as fast as u want... I sold that and got a KFA Mako, it is a bit harder to ride than the other foils but is also a step up in speed and performance all around and feels awesome at top speed when it's locked in and powered up....
Theres no reason you couldn't start out on a performance foil if that's what u want and skip the "beginner" foil...
Skip the beginner foil if you're planning on going to a performance one.
All depends on what your end game is, I am still very happy riding around on a foil fish & don't see the need to change. I have a set of high aspect wings which are great on smooth water. But off the beach in the ocean (where I spend most of my time) it's usually too rough to get the speed needed for foiling.
This is where the slow low aspect wings work for me. Straight into foil & bypass the waves/chop. Being slower you can play on the swell & just have fun.
I learnt on a Sword2 about 12 months ago. We've been using the Slingshot Hover Glide + Foiling Flight School masts since about October this season in our school and demo.
The progression increased 10 fold on the freeride foil with short masts. People who've never touched a foil are riding in an hour, relatively in control. It took me three sessions to get what I would consider 'comfortable' on my Sword2 in light-ish winds, where as we're seeing that on session one for most average riders using our Slingshot foils. I assume this will go for most other decent freeride foils with some mast options.
You don't get that epic locked in, high speed feel of a race foil, but you also don't take kite lessons then buy a wakestyle board and boots first go, even if that's your ultimate goal. The freeride foils a lot more durable and usually not as sharp (read: dangerous) as the race foils. Plus they're cheap, so you don't mind accidentally running into a sandbar or two from time to time.
To race competitively you need a quick foil, but tacking and gybing around the course will make up for having a slightly slower foil (thinking high performance freeride here) on most local racers. If you just want to freeride but on a higher performance foil then I'd think stick with the super easy to use foil until you can tack, gybe, ride toeside, etc, since you're not needing high performance other than for personal desire.
That's my take on it...
I have ridden and learnt on race foils and only after doing some racing have I been exposed to the beginner foils.
For me I am enjoying riding a foil that sits in-between the 2.
I would avoid the very basic bottom end foils and the very top end foils. There are now choices in the middle.
The reason for this is that as you get better there won't be any problems at higher speed but you will still get the benefit of a foil that has a slower stall speed, is easy to control/learn manoeuvres.
I think the well made carbon strut is a better option than Ali mainly due to the way it deals with the connection to the board.
Don't be afraid to ask for a demo of different types.
The board makes a difference. Light with some buoyancy and size will help for sure.
One thing to note for mine is that the foils I am referring to are specific free ride foils. They have different wing profiles to race foils. You will see a lot of race foils listed as race / free-ride as they have not worked as race foils.
The reason I am on the intermediate style foil is that I am hoping to speed up my learning in respect to tacks and gybes.
And also do some more riding in the waves.
I think the slower stall speed and extra control will help.
What Drew and Benmj said is pretty spot on for me.
i learnt 2 years ago on the Liquid Force Foil Fish and within three months had upgraded to a carbon free ride foil ... a magma barracuda which no one would have heard of. I also spent some time riding a Levitaz Aspect and found that awe inspiring compared to what I had experienced up until then. A year later I bought a KFA Mako race foil and did one season with the Perth Kite Racing club. I've now moved away from racing and gone back to riding zeeko aluminium foils... I've got the green and white as well as the spitfire. For me, the cheaper free ride foils suit me much more than go fast race foils. Definitely consider them as a high quality option if you are in the upgrade cycle. I have more fun carving waves and cruising around than I did trying to get around a race course. Still can't tack after two years...... don't care anymore.
I'll offer my 2c as a real world experience/opinion, for what it's worth.
My kite time is extremely limited in my current life phase.
I bought a good carbon foil (spotz 2) and learned to a certain point. Slow going because of short sessions, long breaks in between, and never ridden a directional either, I've always been spoiled with great flat water nearby.
I struggled in my area because there's not a lot of good deep flat water. I tried various locations that were all ultimately too shallow, with the tide or wind direction wrong for the time I had available. The deep spots basically amount to open ocean, and I found it hard to learn with swell as well.
I was worried about watching my 2k+ investment lose value, not using it much, and had other uses for the money, so I chose to sell and buy in again in a year or two.
I will be strongly tempted to buy an alloy foil next time, particularly one with a short 2nd mast. I think a short mast would make a vast difference to me as I can then learn in the flat water that I have available on various tides, not just full high, and with a larger ridable area, not just one channel. My ultimate aim is open ocean but I'd rather be over the hump and confident foiling first.
I'm thinking 2nd hand Zeeko, Slingshot, or TKF will be my second foil.i wouldn't rule out a LF or cab even.
If you're interested in the transition from a low aspect foil to a higher aspect foil then there's nothing to it. Expect 2-10 minutes of bunny hopping then you're off and riding. You might have to focus more on the transitions. The higher performance foil can tend to turn faster and wider so you lose line tension. Lower aspect generally maintains line tension better.
In terms of learning, I always recommend starting on a cheap, low aspect foil. The point being you are much more likely to damage your gear when you are new and it is heart breaking to damage an expensive foil from doing dumb stuff.
In learning terms you should probably spend more time learning to body drag and generally handle the foil in the water. The better you are at handling the foil the less likely you are to damage yourself or the gear.
Possibly the biggest learning thing is finding out that foils are nowhere near as dangerous as you think. That mainly comes from being relaxed with the gear. Newbies fight their foil all the time and the foil fights back. Once you're competent and confident then jumping and carving as hard as you can are just more fun to be had.
In riding terms the big difference between low aspect (specifically the Foil Fish) and higher aspect is that low aspect foils tend to broach at speed and you end up doing a high speed face plant. It hurts. Higher aspect foils seem to glide more smoothly at speed and are less likely to spit you off at speed. There's a little bit of learned technique there but the higher performance foils are generally better behaved at speed.
In purely practical terms, my carbon foil is a joy to own and use. 4 bolts for a full pack down. No water leaking all over the place. No corrosion concerns. A little sanding and some spray paint to tidy up cosmetic issues from time to time. Love it.