Just like any other wave sport, any time you’re in the water you should be wearing a Coast Guard-approved OLIH MDFNHW :KHQ OHDUQLQJ WR IRLO VXUI I also recommend a wet suit – not for the warmth, although that helps since you’ll be in the water a lot for your fiUVW WULHV EXW EHFDXVH WKHUH LV D ORW RI PHWDO DQG fiEHUJODVV LQ WKH ZDWHU with you, and it’s really easy to kick the foil or to have it hit you when you fall. Helmets are also highly recom- mended for beginners.

New riders will find themselves acceler-

ating and quickly raising off the surface of the water. It takes a lot of practice to find the sweet spot of lifting off the water with- out going too far. Too much lift and you’ll hear the gurgle of the foil breaching the surface. Out of the water, the foil loses its ability to generate lift, and the rider will very quickly be thrown back into the water (watch this video at

3. <RXȇUH (VVHQWLDOO\ 6XUfiQJ on Stilts The balance and skill you developed wake surfing is important, but there are key differences. Where a surf board sits on top of the water and is directly controlled by toe and heel pressure, a foil’s base of support is the wing touching the water and you’re balancing on a second base of support on top of a mast. Because you’re on a double-decker, and one step removed from your base of support, it is extra important to stay stacked. Leaning too far over the toe or heel

on a surf board increases tilt and makes a deeper carve. Leaning too far over the toe or heel on a wake foil creates a hinge and tips the board away from you. This is another very easy way to quickly end up in the water. Watch what happens when I don’t stay stacked at the end of this clip:

4. Don’t Try to Surf the Wake – At First Focus on learning the new double-decker balance, steering with a keel instead of toe-to-heel pressure, and controlling fore/aft pitch. The easiest way to do this is without ballast, surf gate, or wedge, and the longest rope you have. Because the foil’s wings are in the water they trans- mit prop wash to the board. With a long rope you get away from water turbulence and simplify the learning environment.

64 | 32 DEGREES • SPRING 2019 A better view of the wake foil. For more information on how the equipment works, visit

By the end of last summer, we were all riding in the pocket and able to steer within the wave, generate speed by pump- LQJ ZKHQ QHHGHG DQG fl\LQJ IRU DV ORQJ DV our legs could hold us.

Once you’re comfortable getting up

and balancing, start working on gentle aft pressure. Allow the foil to engage and lift your board a few inches out of the water, then ease off the tail and let the wing sink until your board is on the surface again. These touch-and-go take off and landings will build your skill and help you learn to manage the lift created by the wing.

5. Take the Time to Dial in Equipment This includes the wake foil itself, but also boat speed, and rider/driver communication. Wake foils have a number of adjustments, including mast height and mounting location and wing sizes. The hydrofoil’s lift is affected by several intertwined rela- tionships, including boat speed, the size and mounting point of the wing, the amount of aft pressure, and the weight of the rider. Finding the right configuration of wings, masts, and boat speed is essential to creating long, sustained foil flights.

As an instructor, I love being put back in to the mindset of a beginner, and for me, learning to foil surf was more humbling than anything I’ve learned in a long time. We thought it

would be easy to pick up, and jumped into the deep end trying to surf the wave. It was frus- trating at first, but when we took a step back, and applied basic progressions from teach- ing skiing and snowboarding, it started to get easier and pretty soon we were hooked. The first time I engaged the wing and was

sent flying, I wondered how we would ever actually surf the wave. By the end of last summer, we were all riding in the pocket and able to steer within the wave, generate speed by pumping when needed, and flying for as long as our legs could hold us. Take it slow, keep it basic, and give your-

self permission to be a beginner again. Flying on a foil, suspended two feet above the surface of the water is one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve known. It adds a third dimension to the water, and combines the feelings of surfing, flying, and riding powder – what could be better?

AASI Snowboard Team member Chris Rogers is the manager of training for Vail Mountain’s Ski & Snowboard School and is the Snowboard Commit- tee Chair and an examiner for Rocky Mountain Division. He also runs Get AWSM, a mountain town-focused web and social media consultancy. Follow his adventures at or on Insta- gram: @chrisrogersvail


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