Foiling into the Future

By Tyler Fox


photo kookson

Some say it’s like balancing on a bowling ball covered in Vaseline. Others say it’s like attempting to ride a Norwegian battle-axe that is simultaneously trying to chop your face off. My personal favorite description is “the Grim Reaper’s magic-carpet ride.” These analogies hold various levels of truth depending on who’s using them. For me, all I can say is that the newfound phenomenon known as “hydrofoiling” is a blast. And not a blast like, “Oh, look, I’m standing on a floating dinner table!” It’s more like, “My board is now levitating and I’m going mach-10 on a 2-foot wave!” I now foam at the mouth at the sight of even the mushiest of mush-burger waves.


I digress. Hydrofoiling, or simply “foiling,” is really, really dangerous—not only to you, but also to those around you. You are basically riding on top of a 2-foot metal blade (called a mast) with a front wing and back wing (foils) that are both equally as sharp. When you fall forward over your toes, the surfboard goes back, and just like a pendulum, the foil comes racing toward the surface. (Hence “the battle axe trying to chop your face off” analogy.) I’ve had several friends get seriously injured and, on one occasion, it was almost fatal. In an online interview back in 2016, 10-time paddleboard champion and all-around waterman Jamie Mitchell put it this way: “Foils are for open-ocean swells, Outer Bombies, and places where there are no people or very few people doing it together. Foils are dangerous … very dangerous, and do not belong in the surf zone with the masses and general public.”


While I agree with Mitchell on most fronts, I am also excited to see the opportunities this new sport presents. Imagine foiling open-ocean swells from outside Santa Cruz all the way to Monterey, or just having a blast in 2-foot slop when you’d otherwise be drowning your sorrows in another double IPA, wishing for waves. This craze is most likely only going to get crazier, but don’t blame me—I’m just the messenger. While you’re at it, don’t blame Laird, either—he’s been blamed for enough. Let’s all agree to blame Kai.


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