At first glance, finding the right windfoil configuration can seem like a real challenge. Manufacturers make a wide range of parts for the market, with seemingly complicated terminology. If you are learning windfoil and want to maximize water time at your home spot, what does a correct foil setup look like for you?
First, let’s explore the components of a foil. A watersports hydrofoil is composed of four pieces:
- Mast - This long and flat piece attaches the foil to the board at its top, and the fuselage of the foil at its bottom. Masts can be composed of aluminum or carbon. In general, longer masts are used in wavy or choppy conditions and are more versatile. Shorter masts are great for beginner use, smaller windfoil equipment, and flatter water. However, a mast that is too short will limit your progression in stronger conditions, being able to control the height of your board, and learning to foil through a jibe. In general, windfoil masts come between 75 (raw beginner) and 100 cm (race) of height.
- Fuselage - The body of the foil, this long, round and streamlined part holds the front wing and tail wing (stabilizer). Fuselages are usually made from aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, or less frequently, carbon. The length of the fuselage helps determine a foil’s upwind and downwind performance, performance on a reach, and stability. A shorter fuselage offers more stability on reaching angles, great for simple freeride, and a longer fuselage is ideal for upwind/downwind, racing, and distance sailing. In general, most windfoils will have a fuselage of around 85-115 cm in length. Kite foils, surf foils, SUP and wing foils use shorter fuselages (55-75 cm generally) due to the more vertical center of effort of the rider and/or sail.
- Front wing - Attached to the front of the fuselage, this is the driver of the foil’s power, lift, and speed. Its shape and surface area determine the characteristics of its performance. Larger, “fat” lower-aspect ratio wings are generally slower and more stable, and smaller, “thin” higher aspect ratio wings are generally faster.
- Rear wing or Stabilizer - This is the rear wing of the foil, attached to the back of the fuselage. A stabilizer’s shape can vary from offering more speed and stability, to more maneuverability and pumping. Slim-profile stabilizers are speed and racing-oriented, while thicker, rounder ones are oriented towards maneuvers. A smaller stabilizer will yield more maneuverability but less stability than a larger one.
Your combination of mast, fuselage, front wing, and stabilizer is key to your success in getting started in windfoil. Below, you’ll find a few TAAROA windfoil setups, and you’ll get some ideas for the type of foil best suited for your level and goals.
This type of foil is for ambitious debutants to windfoil and is budget-friendly, easy to use, and progressive. This foil can be used with almost any type of foil-specific board oriented towards freeride or freerace.
Mast: UP aluminum in a 75 or 85 cm length. An aluminum mast is a sturdy, lower cost choice that offers similar performance to a carbon mast. For flat, shallow water or for less confident riders, a 75 cm mast works well. Shorter masts mean you’re a bit safer from catapults - and the ride is less scary if you’re closer to the water! Our 85 cm mast is an all-purpose, progressive length that works well in the majority of “home spot” conditions while also avoiding the scary factor.
Make sure to rinse your aluminum components after a saltwater session. Although TAAROA uses high-quality, aerospace grade aluminum for maximum strength and corrosion resistance, all aluminum components need care after submersion in salt water.
For a stiffness and longevity upgrade, you can choose a carbon foil mast. Our NOE 80 Carbon HR mast is made for progressive riders, and carbon is naturally corrosion resistant. Carbon is a stiffer and more precise ride, and better for heavier sailors.
Fuselage: 85 aluminum. An 85 cm fuselage achieves an excellent balance between performance and stability on all angles of sail. The length is designed for all conditions, and adapts well to all kinds of windfoil boards, being especially suited for freeride. This length of fuselage is perfect for everyday fun freeride sessions, and for progressing into more advanced maneuvers and freestyle.
Front wing: LA 1250: This is a low-aspect ratio wing that is great for progressive riders across multiple disciplines. For windfoil, it’s ideal for learning to jibe, take off, and for advanced carving moves such as foiling 360s. It has a nimble feel for a low-aspect ratio wing, and will give you the speed you need to foil through jibes.
Rear wing: 300: In general, this stabilizer is a bit on the lower aspect ratio side, making it geared towards maneuvers. It generates enough lift to float nicely through jibes. It’s also very forgiving of rider mistakes, and responds very well to pumping. It’s an ideal wing for beginner and intermediate riders, and can also be used in higher level, maneuver oriented disciplines such as freestyle. A wing of this design is best paired with a lower aspect ratio front wing.
Intermediate to advanced setups are very interchangeable in terms of fuselages and front wings, so a rundown of components will help you choose the best foil for you.
An intermediate-level setup is normally geared for freerace or freeride, and adds a longer fuselage for better upwind/downwind performance, and higher aspect ratio front wings / stabilizer for better control at higher speed.
An example of an intermediate to advanced level setup is TAAROA’s “Windfoil Freerace” foil pack.
Mast: NOE 97 Carbon HR. A longer mast is ideal for all conditions from flat water, to large swell and chop. The NOE 97’s length of almost a meter (97 cm) gives much better tolerance for rough sea states and gusty conditions, and controls foil breaching. You’ll achieve a sportier, more dynamic ride with a longer mast, and you can progress through jibes and control in rougher conditions. Longer masts are typically constructed in carbon for more rigidity and durability, especially for aggressive use or heavy riders. Longer aluminum windfoil masts exist, but are a bit less responsive than carbon, although they are more impact resistant.
Fuselage: 95 aluminum. A longer fuselage will give you improved upwind/downwind ability, and longer glide in lighter wind. For stronger wind conditions at your home spot, this fuselage is a great option for sailing fast on all angles. If you’re looking for more upwind angle in lighter wind, you can go even longer with the fuselage. TAAROA has an option of a 105 cm aluminum fuselage. Similar to other brands’ fuselages of about 115 cm due to the advanced position of our front wing, the 105 will introduce you to excellent stability, angle, and glide in lighter wind.
Front wing: These can be quite diverse. Progressive, intermediate-level TAAROA wings are described below.
HA 700. This high aspect ratio wing is designed with a course racing profile. With a double-dihedral “M” shape when looking towards the leading edge, this wing is very fast without being overpowering. A high-aspect, fast wing suits intermediate riders who have progressed through beginner foiling jibes and are sailing well both upwind and downwind. (This wing is included in our “Windfoil Freerace” pack.)
LA 900. This is our lower or mid-aspect ratio front wing, and a truly classic, versatile design. Designed for freeride or freestyle, a wing of this shape gives additional power and excellent tolerance. It’s also fast enough to make maneuvers fun and easy to learn, and has a freestyle-type “pop” for learning to jump. For progressive riders, it’s a great next step towards learning speed and maneuvers, and for higher level riders, it’s ideal for freestyle across disciplines.
HA 1050. With a wide, high aspect course racing profile, this front wing is fast and very stable. This type of design is a great choice for heavier riders looking for both speed and easy jibes. It has excellent lift in light wind, and also suits intermediate riders of almost any weight in light conditions.
Rear wing: 250. This stabilizer is streamlined and fast, and great for upwind/downwind sailing and ripping through racing style jibes.
Now that we’ve discussed components of a foil, it’s time to move on to selecting a beginner or progressive board.
Beginner Windfoil Boards:
Selecting the correct board to begin windfoiling is critical. A windfoil-specific board is definitely recommended, as the fin (foil) box will be positioned farther forward than a classic slalom or Formula board, letting you sail with correct balance, and a true “windsurf” feel. Additionally, classic, non reinforced fin boxes will eventually weaken and break due to the upward pressure of the foil.
For beginners, choose a freeride, foil-specific board that will float you (120-160L) according to your weight, with a wider tail end. Avoid the “no-nose” style, as it will give you problems tacking - make sure there is enough volume for you. A race board also isn’t necessary, as it wants a race-style foil and this may not be ideal for you to learn on. (Although if you want to learn racing, hop on one of these as soon as you are getting your first consistent foil rides). Small boards will be unstable once the foil is attached, and more difficult to maneuver.
A wide freeride windfoil board, fuselage of 85-95 cm, mast of 75-85 cm, high aspect ratio front wing, and corresponding stabilizer will get you going in almost any sailing spot!