TAAROA’s iUP prototypes have entered a wave of testing for wake, surf and wing foiling in Switzerland, France and the United States. We used these different testing sessions to gather data and validate the engineering - both foil geometry and electronics - and test our intelligent autopilot across all conditions and skill levels.
Late August, at the Vanora Engadinwind by Dakine Foilmania Festival at Lake Silvaplana, Switzerland, our team had the first opportunity to test the iUP’s ability to reduce the learning curve in windfoil.
By partnering up with two companies who provided equipment for #5’s first flights, we simulated a perfect situation for beginners to windfoil. Thanks to the fast-acting team at Loftsails, we had the opportunity to test the iUP with a demo 2021 Oxygen 5.8, a light, stable, and user-friendly freeride sail – a great fit for beginner foilers. We also borrowed an all-purpose board, the “Basilisk,” from the innovative Swiss company MB Boards. Thanks to these two great partners for helping us create a great testing environment.
iUP #5 was easy to set up on the Basilisk. We simply lowered it on top of the rails and bolted it on, then turned it on. Its wifi then booted up, and we connected it to a phone. As soon as #5 was connected, we opened up the iUP application and selected one of the flight modes we believed would work best with windfoil. The foil snapped to life when the mode was selected and did its pre- navigation checks. We did additional checks on the beach by tilting it back and forth, then raising and lowering it, to verify that the wing flaps reacted to the change in angle and pressure.
Upon performing several tests, we discovered that the onboard computer settings of our prototype #5, while proven to work well for wing or wake foiling, weren’t quite adapted to the practice of windfoil. This was understandable, as the rider’s position and angles in relation to the foil in windfoil are vastly different from classic surf sports. In windfoil, the rider is outboard and uses sail and rail pressure to control the equipment, while kite, surf, SUP, and wingfoil riders control the foil with more vertical pressure, standing on top of the board.
To get the parameters right, we worked closely with our engineers to adjust the parameters of the autopilot, changing the dynamics of the foil. We adjusted these parameters on the beach in real time, through WiFi connectivity and using the smartphone app.
Changing the gain for roll control along with filtering the height control allowed the foil to be canted and steered with both the sail and rail pressure - classic windsurf style. It also added a nice pop for the take off.
The team was happy to have adapted #5’s parameters to be more suited to the practice of windfoil and used these to develop a first windfoil mode in the app. These tests will also help us understand how we can continue to enhance the foil’s capabilities for the practice of windfoil, and optimize the final geometry of the iUP for its one-size-fits-all package.
In the next few weeks, we will continue to test and refine our prototypes using data from a growing number of riders in Europe and the US. We’ll then start taking iUP pre-orders!