Get Started with Windfoil by Farrah, Olympic athlete and TAAROA ambassador

What’s your best advice for getting started with windfoil?

Make sure to get someone to help you and give you the right instruction – take a lesson, or ask a more experienced friend to help you for an hour. Choosing and setting up the right equipment, especially the combination of the board and foil, is extremely important to learning correctly and having a good first experience. If you can’t access your own equipment right away, ask to borrow a friend’s gear or rent for a few hours.

You can learn windfoil if you know how to get in the harness and footstraps on a regular funboard, so don’t let yourself think you have to have a high level of windsurfing just to get started. Instructors are finding out that you need just a few intermediate-level windsurfing skills to succeed, and that cruising around on a windfoil kit isn’t more difficult or complicated than classic windsurfing.

Foil is here to stay, and it’s super fun, so it’s worth your time to learn how to do it! It opens up a new world of light wind performance in the sport of windsurfing, and translates directly to other foiling surf sports. Take your time and let yourself discover the correct sensations and the best equipment for you.

What do beginners have to take into account in terms of equipment and settings?

The board and foil are the most important pieces of equipment to set up well. It’s important to match the board and the foil; i.e. a freeride board with freeride foil, race board with race foil, etc. Ideally you should begin in lighter wind, around 12-15 knots, on a foil-specific freeride board 81-91 cm wide. The width of the board is important in making the setup to feel like “windsurfing” and having windsurfing-style leverage over the foil. The foil should have a mast of around 80-95 cm in height for greater forgiveness of rider error and waves.

Make sure the mast foot is balanced with respect to the front wing of your foil and your equilibrium while sailing. The sensation should be balanced between your two feet, and leverage over the board and foil with weight in the harness similar to classic windsurfing. If you feel off-balance, move the mast foot forward or backwards to compensate.

Remove the back footstrap of the board the first few sessions to get a better feel for the placement of your back foot. The front footstrap can be moved forward or backwards according to your feeling of balance as well. Harness lines should be either balanced or a little forward for the first few sessions, to allow the sail to open easily to depower and touch back down.

Any light freeride sail will work to begin with. Try for a size around 6,5 with no cambers, a sail you’re already comfortable using.

What are ideal conditions to start in?

You’ll want to have flat water and about 12-15 knots of steady wind. With wind any lighter or stronger, you’ll struggle a bit to take off or control the equipment right away – you want a comfortable wind range. Also, try not to debut in directly onshore or offshore conditions. Side shore wind will facilitate launching and having clean wind. Onshore waves or offshore gusts will make handling the equipment more complicated.

Make sure there is enough depth for your foil, not a lot of rocks around, and know where the shallow spots are at low tide! The first rules of windfoil safety are: Don’t try to waterstart (you could kick the sharp foil) and don’t let go of the boom if you fall. Try to wear a helmet or impact vest as well, to give yourself extra peace of mind.

Where is the best spot in France to learn to windfoil?

Luckily, you can find great windfoil spots all over France. Anywhere that’s flat with deep enough water, and a protected launch, will work well.

If you want to be super safe, a lake like Serre Poncon is ideal. With deep, fresh water and flat conditions, plus an easy, grassy launch, you’re sure to have a worry-free first session.

Which TAAROA foil setup is the best for learning?

For windfoil, the NOE 80 with the 95 cm aluminum fuselage and 1050 front wing is ideal. The 1050 front wing is stable, forgiving of error, and fast but not too fast. It’s easy to keep flying through the carve when learning to jibe and it gives a good, windsurfing-style sensation. The 95 fuselage is long enough to work well in light wind, and controllable when the wind picks up. The 450 freerace stabilizer works well with this configuration.

Is there a warm-up beginners can do to make a session pass more smoothly?

Physically, anything you already do to prepare for a normal windsurfing session will work! Force- wise, windfoil is less physical than classic windsurfing. The best warm-up is for your head. Get your brain ready to learn something new and stay open-minded. Windsurfing is always a humbling sport, and it’s important to take mistakes and new experiences in stride and not allow yourself to get easily frustrated or self-critical.

Anything else to add?

I could write a novel about learning to windfoil, but the most important thing is to have a good attitude and make sure you’re having fun. Let yourself progress step by step, and you’ll soon be taking your first flights with ease.