Forums > Stand Up Paddle Foiling

Learning to DW Foil

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Created by paul.j 2 months ago, 12 Jan 2019
paul.j
QLD, 2764 posts
12 Jan 2019 11:49AM
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I wrote a small piece on learning to DW foil for anyone who is interested, hopefully those looking at getting into it this might just give you a few tips and help a little with the learning process.

www.oneoceansportsaustralia.com/blog/2019/1/12/learning-to-downwind-foil

PeterP
631 posts
13 Jan 2019 1:11PM
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Nice write up - you guys make it look so tantalizingly easy.

I'm 53yo and used to be pretty handy on normal downwinders, have SUP foiled for about a year and a half and downwind foiled 12-15 times....and I still can't do it.

If wind is over 23kn ave (which means gusting to 33kn here) then I can get up and at best keep it on foil for about a minute. If wind is lower than that it's a real struggle to even get up on foil. It is hands down the hardest thing I've ever tried - it's incredibly physical and so technically demanding I don't know where to start.

In waves I have managed a couple of 2 for 1's meaning the pumping is only just beginning to get there, which by the way, IMHO, is the most crucial skill to have. I wouldn't recommend anyone doing a downwind until you have at least some basic pumping skills, it helps with launching and is essential to stay up on foil.

I think our conditions are about as good as it gets (Milnerton 10km run, Cape Town) but we only have one kid who can foil the whole way (Nathan van Vuuren aka foil-freak) there's a couple of other guys who are getting it and then a handful of grovellers like me. Don't get me wrong, it's improving every time but it's hard not to sit and reflect on age and power to weight ratio after another dismal outing.

Equipment wise I think we're sort of on it - using big ass wings and custom boards.

I'd like to know if there are any other middle-aged, 90kg + foilers out there who have cracked the code and can stay up on foil for 10km's?

paul.j
QLD, 2764 posts
13 Jan 2019 4:24PM
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All sounds pretty normal mate, it will go from one of the hardest things you have ever done to one of the easiest soon enough and if you are starting to get up for a minute at a time you are not far from cracking it.

More and more guys who once were just like you are now starting to get it.

Seajuice
NSW, 302 posts
13 Jan 2019 8:44PM
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Thanks Paul.j. Sounds like I still need more practise in the surf. Ha!
I am better now at getting up & running. And just starting to look where I am going to keep on the best part of the swell. Still got to try more leaning carving & pumping before I stop.
Oh! And save enough on taxi fare with a roof rack when I do Down wind to give me that 10kms lift back. Haa!

Scotty Mac
SA, 1830 posts
14 Jan 2019 8:32AM
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PeterP,
I am 48 and kind of the unfit looking type (92kg) but a pretty regular downwind paddler and after a fair bit of practice trial and error and (goo equipment selection) I feel like I am pretty comfortable doing it now. I would say just stick at it. Its all about timing and what i mean by that is sometimes if my timing is perfect even just 2 strokes and I am up. That wreaked feeling of trying to paddle hard to get up is amost gone so just keep going and I am sure you will get it. I did our whole run many many times and didnt even get up once a few times and felt totally buggered at the end. It can be very frustrating. Wing size- go big like the 280 or similar. Board size go around 7'6" so you have heaps of paddle power. Mine is 137 litres.

Piros
QLD, 5335 posts
14 Jan 2019 10:12AM
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Agree with above , hardest form of foiling to learn but best reward. Just keep at it.

tightlines
WA, 3139 posts
14 Jan 2019 8:57AM
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Scotty Mac said..
PeterP,
I am 48 and kind of the unfit looking type (92kg) but a pretty regular downwind paddler and after a fair bit of practice trial and error and (goo equipment selection) I feel like I am pretty comfortable doing it now. I would say just stick at it. Its all about timing and what i mean by that is sometimes if my timing is perfect even just 2 strokes and I am up. That wreaked feeling of trying to paddle hard to get up is amost gone so just keep going and I am sure you will get it. I did our whole run many many times and didnt even get up once a few times and felt totally buggered at the end. It can be very frustrating. Wing size- go big like the 280 or similar. Board size go around 7'6" so you have heaps of paddle power. Mine is 137 litres.




It was good seeing Trav's footage of you cruising along as well Scotty, it gives me hope.
I'm still not there yet but starting to get it a bit more, only a few short flights each time but each run I can feel it's getting closer.
I'm sure it would have been easier for me at around 85kg ATM on something with a bit more glide than my 6'8 108ltr board but I am confident I will get there so I'm happy with the size.
I've been kiting a bit on a large kite foil lately and trying to carve downwind, just to give me a better feel for foiling downwind so hopefully that will help.
Can't wait to give it another go.

Frothing like a grom.

Scotty Mac
SA, 1830 posts
14 Jan 2019 12:28PM
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Love that "frothing like a grom". Downwind foiling is so good, I prefer it over just about anything at the moment! Best fun ever......

murf
SA, 416 posts
14 Jan 2019 12:53PM
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Comparing all the water sports I have done downwind foiling has been the hardest thing to learn. If you can foil surf and sup downwind the learning curve wont be as harsh. The hardest part is learning to un-weight the board to get started. Scotty and myself have done so many runs when we didnt even get up on the foil. Now its the only thing I want to do. Its so much fun!!!

Jeffs256
NSW, 20 posts
25 Jan 2019 11:12AM
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I'm not a long way into the learning curve for DW Foiling, so I'm re-learning some lessons from a fair bit of SUP and prone DWing I've done over the years. So FWIW - my tips are:
- there's no point in grinding on the paddle at pace if there's no runners - catch your breath, enjoy the scenery, and listen for some whitewater
- wait for that noticeably steeper slide off the back of the wave in front since normally the one behind will when the nose of your board will drop down for the take off, so jump into surf stance,
- the take off needs the highest sprint cadence you can deliver, rather than a couple of monster paddle-bending power strokes
- you have to unweight and pump into the take off, and it just takes time for that high speed paddle/pump rhythm to come naturally - I still feel like a bouncing monkey
- try to relax in-flight whenever you can by straightening up - and it looks way cooler than you'll feel.

I always have a rest after I fall, otherwise you get on a downward spiral since the more you fall, the more you'll fall. Since you should always be going offshore with a buddy, we have an agreement that if the front paddler falls - he or she has to sit and wait for the others to catch up (always wear a flouro rashy + vaikobi), or annoyingly if there's no fall, the front person stops after an agreed interval (say 20 minutes in good visibility, less otherwise). That avoids falling into the trap of grinding out your paddle at 80% effort off the foil trying to keep up with your non-foiling SUP friends.

The good thing has been reading other's experience to know getting an open ocean lift-off and staying inflight just takes a lot of mileage, and good conditions. So I'll keep trying!

cheers
Brian

JB
NSW, 1938 posts
Site Sponsor
25 Jan 2019 2:23PM
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Totally agree with Murf. In the beginning I was getting so many mixed results and a lot of long slow paddles. But once you get it all together, it is magic. I am constantly now just watching the winds to go DW foiling again. 100% addictive!

Some very good points made by Brian (aka Jeffs256).
As exciting as it is DW'ing, you have to stay calm and be patient. When it looks like a good bump is lining up, get into surf stance and start gaining speed. 90% of the time I find the bump I thought I wanted to go for turns out to be too fast and too hard to catch, but generally the one directly behind it (which you didn't even know was there) is usually perfect. So use that first bump to get some board speed up, then as you fall off the back and into the pit between the next one, slam the pedal down with some high cadence and coordinated unweighting and paddling. Well timed you should break up onto the foil relatively quickly (I find normally with in 5-6 strokes I am up onto the foil). Once you've broken the board free, it is a decision to either continue pump paddling (if you are lacking in board speed) or to mainly just concentrate on board pumping (if your board speed is actually quite good, but you're just not quite on the bump yet).

Once you are up and gliding, the next key is to try and keep gliding. Staying high, and keeping with your chop just long enough to gain the speed needed to move onto the next bump (which may actually be behind you in many cases). Smooth transferring and taking note of the ocean patterns is key. You can hunt and chase down swells, but you're going to burn a lot of energy. You are better of retreating from swells and keeping your focus on maintaining a good middle board speed.

Here's a quick cut from a downwinder I did this week. This is the very beginning as I have just paddled out of the wind shadow of the head land. Wind is still gusty and on the lighter side and the bumps are still very small. No swell, this is only wind chop. I miss a few of them, then pic one that feels good and go for it.



Also here is the full vid if anyone is interested. It's bloody long (17+ minutes), but shows most of time up on the foil over a 6.8km downwinder.


Enjoy, and get into it, well worth the learning curve.

Ride safe,

JB

PeterP
631 posts
25 Jan 2019 12:37PM
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Have any of you experimented with the angle of the fuselage in relation to the board? The reason I'm asking is that I tried to dwd two foils of similar size back to back and found the one a lot more "slippery" and willing to push up to speed and get board to release whereas the other one needed a lot more push and persuasion to get up. Once on foil the "easy-up" foil does have a fraction more lift and carry than the other one so it obviously has more lift built in. But I'm just wondering if the launch can be affected by angle of fuselage - it's almost like foil is sucking board down until there is enough speed to break it loose.

Any bit of help in getting up saves a lot of energy which is better spent trying to stay up....

Gofoil Australia
NSW, 32 posts
25 Jan 2019 4:59PM
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I agree with everything Jacko & JB have said... After 4 or 5 attempts it's all come together with foil downwinding & it is such a buzz....not sure i'll ever be able to do it on my raceboard or look at downwind conditions the same again...
The definite keys are not to wear yourself out chasing the first bump or every bump that comes along for that matter...I find the 3rd or 4th bump to be the best but as JB said wait & time it...it's 90% technique between paddling & then timing your pump up... the other key factors I've found to be a must are relaxing when up on the foil & doing little mini feathering ollies off your back foot while you're up on the foil just to maintain height & glide & then being able to pump & paddle while up on the foil...It's like an accelerator when you want to chase another bump whether it be in front or off to the side...
I used the GoFoil M280 for an 8km downwinder 2 days ago & had one glide for over 2k's... it was such a buzz...The big wing is a must to get you started until you refine your technique but then you can go smaller...I'm off to Hawaii next week & will only take my IWA & M200...yewww can't wait :)

JEG
VIC, 1020 posts
25 Jan 2019 5:08PM
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I'm looking forward to my 1st SUP experience Gofoil Australia and really looking forward to dw foil, sounds like a fun to do!

Camarillo
114 posts
26 Jan 2019 8:25PM
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PeterP said..
Have any of you experimented with the angle of the fuselage in relation to the board? The reason I'm asking is that I tried to dwd two foils of similar size back to back and found the one a lot more "slippery" and willing to push up to speed and get board to release whereas the other one needed a lot more push and persuasion to get up. Once on foil the "easy-up" foil does have a fraction more lift and carry than the other one so it obviously has more lift built in. But I'm just wondering if the launch can be affected by angle of fuselage - it's almost like foil is sucking board down until there is enough speed to break it loose.

Any bit of help in getting up saves a lot of energy which is better spent trying to stay up....


That is a very interesting thought, it could help :
- to get up flying in small weak waves
- to get up flying before the wave gets steep
- in to get up dwding in windchop
3d printing a wedge should be easy but just ordering one online is better

PeterP
631 posts
26 Jan 2019 11:42PM
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Select to expand quote
Camarillo said..

PeterP said..
Have any of you experimented with the angle of the fuselage in relation to the board? The reason I'm asking is that I tried to dwd two foils of similar size back to back and found the one a lot more "slippery" and willing to push up to speed and get board to release whereas the other one needed a lot more push and persuasion to get up. Once on foil the "easy-up" foil does have a fraction more lift and carry than the other one so it obviously has more lift built in. But I'm just wondering if the launch can be affected by angle of fuselage - it's almost like foil is sucking board down until there is enough speed to break it loose.

Any bit of help in getting up saves a lot of energy which is better spent trying to stay up....



That is a very interesting thought, it could help :
- to get up flying in small weak waves
- to get up flying before the wave gets steep
- in to get up dwding in windchop
3d printing a wedge should be easy but just ordering one online is better


I compared the angle of my fuselage with a friend of mine who has same rig - it was out by quite a bit and I've fitted a shimmy to change the angle - he's been popping out the water with ease (but he is also 15kg lighter) - but I'm convinced this is the main cause of my exasperation of getting the thing out of the water on dwds. I waves there is enough push to not make it much of an issue.....will report back when tested.

PeterP
631 posts
28 Jan 2019 2:27AM
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Just had three days back to back with 25-35kn average wind - what a difference. Suddenly everything is coming together with easy pop-ups and long consistent rides. Burning back leg and occasional lack of talent meant several crashes as I'd overfoil at high speed. Short 60cm mast is probably not ideal either despite plate-converter adding about 8cm - could easily do with 75-80cm I think. But what a difference wind makes - in short: The advice of choosing your days and making sure you're on the right gear now makes all the sense in the world.

On a side note I missed out on the famous Millers downwind race this morning where 3 foilers took part. All three got buzzed by a great white. Tom King saw it coming into Fish Hoek Bay on his way to all time best time of 38min for 11km's. Armin saw the big fin cruising along 50-60m away. Armins wife came in last and the shark had buzzed her so close she accidentally hit it with her paddle! All were a little rattled and were getting blank stares from all the other non-foilers until the siren rang out during prize-giving and the Shark-spotters closed the beach!

Now we're wondering if it was coincidental that only the foilers saw it?

paul.j
QLD, 2764 posts
28 Jan 2019 4:21PM
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We have had a stupid amount of light wind here lately so we have been working on heaps of light wind foiling and its given us a chance to test our new proto big DW wings. So far we have been Downwinding in as little as 8 knots and as long as there is some kind of ocean bump.

This is a 5min vid that shows 5 straight minutes of light wind downwinding and what it's like with lots of chasing little bumps and also a lot of sitting on the wing and waiting.

JEG
VIC, 1020 posts
28 Jan 2019 7:14PM
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Nice foil run paul.j soo good!

DavidJohn
VIC, 16077 posts
28 Jan 2019 11:59PM
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paul.j said..
We have had a stupid amount of light wind here lately so we have been working on heaps of light wind foiling and its given us a chance to test our new proto big DW wings. So far we have been Downwinding in as little as 8 knots and as long as there is some kind of ocean bump.

This is a 5min vid that shows 5 straight minutes of light wind downwinding and what it's like with lots of chasing little bumps and also a lot of sitting on the wing and waiting.



Wow!

PeterP
631 posts
1 Feb 2019 1:10AM
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Select to expand quote
PeterP said..

Camarillo said..


PeterP said..
Have any of you experimented with the angle of the fuselage in relation to the board? The reason I'm asking is that I tried to dwd two foils of similar size back to back and found the one a lot more "slippery" and willing to push up to speed and get board to release whereas the other one needed a lot more push and persuasion to get up. Once on foil the "easy-up" foil does have a fraction more lift and carry than the other one so it obviously has more lift built in. But I'm just wondering if the launch can be affected by angle of fuselage - it's almost like foil is sucking board down until there is enough speed to break it loose.

Any bit of help in getting up saves a lot of energy which is better spent trying to stay up....




That is a very interesting thought, it could help :
- to get up flying in small weak waves
- to get up flying before the wave gets steep
- in to get up dwding in windchop
3d printing a wedge should be easy but just ordering one online is better



I compared the angle of my fuselage with a friend of mine who has same rig - it was out by quite a bit and I've fitted a shimmy to change the angle - he's been popping out the water with ease (but he is also 15kg lighter) - but I'm convinced this is the main cause of my exasperation of getting the thing out of the water on dwds. I waves there is enough push to not make it much of an issue.....will report back when tested.


Ok here goes - report back. It worked! Ideal conditions today for Red Bull KOTA with 25-33kn and we did an early dwd run where I tried out the new setting with wings more parallel with board. It definitely helped in launching as board releases much quicker and also helped on touch downs as before I'd get sucked onto water because LE of front wing was pointing too far down in relation to board. The only downside is that it also changes the trim while in flight putting more stress on the back leg which now needs a full re-condition......But, to recap, if you feel your board is a dog to get out of the water on a downwind, then it might be because your wings are mis-aligned in relation board. I never noticed it in waves as waves give you sufficient push to get a launch.

Jeffs256
NSW, 20 posts
1 Feb 2019 10:32AM
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Did anyone get some footage downwinding in Sydney yesterday evening (31 Feb) as the southerly buster hit? In the 30 minutes of breeze before I got out there it had already built up some overhead windswell. I had an incredible short run (4 klm) right on the frequent crash limit of the M280, just screaming along trying to keep it underwater. 40 kts gets you on the foil almost without paddling...

JB
NSW, 1938 posts
Site Sponsor
1 Feb 2019 12:24PM
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Select to expand quote
Jeffs256 said..
Did anyone get some footage downwinding in Sydney yesterday evening (31 Feb) as the southerly buster hit? In the 30 minutes of breeze before I got out there it had already built up some overhead windswell. I had an incredible short run (4 klm) right on the frequent crash limit of the M280, just screaming along trying to keep it underwater. 40 kts gets you on the foil almost without paddling...


Unfortunately not. I wish I got out. Looked amazing. Observations clocked like 43kn max gusts. Would have been epic.

Jimmy might have?

JB

glennc
NSW, 140 posts
8 Feb 2019 9:19AM
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Select to expand quote
Jeffs256 said..
Did anyone get some footage downwinding in Sydney yesterday evening (31 Feb) as the southerly buster hit? In the 30 minutes of breeze before I got out there it had already built up some overhead windswell. I had an incredible short run (4 klm) right on the frequent crash limit of the M280, just screaming along trying to keep it underwater. 40 kts gets you on the foil almost without paddling...


Hey Jeff I also got out on the central coast (bay run). Did 7 klm s. Was also on the 280. Literally picked me up and shot me down the bay like an arrow. Best DW ever.

PeterP
631 posts
11 Feb 2019 1:04PM
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Learned something new the last couple of sessions.

On less windy days I have at times battled to stay on bump due to what seemed to me being less energy in the smaller bumps. And on a big day (yesterday 44kn gusts) I also had bumps run away from me this time because they are moving faster.

My mistake has been not paying enough attention to my ride height - the higher you fly the faster you go and the more you pick up the energy of the bump (crucial on smaller days). I've consistently being flying too low which doesn't penalise you too much in waves as there is enough energy and you choose the level of energy the traditional way by picking your line on swell.

DWD Foiling is more like 4-D, choosing your line left right and adjusting your drag and engagement of power by flying high or low. Flying high also helps with pumping so one needs to get it right.

I hate over-foiling hence the low flight stance and practicing in the higher flight mode has resulted in multiple over foil handle bar catapults but it's all for the greater cause. My head is spinning with all the stuff that is going on a downwinder...



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"Learning to DW Foil" started by paul.j