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Learning to Foilboard Behind the Boat: Foil Fridays

Posted by Nathan Paterson on

Learning to Foil Behind the Boat

What's the easiest way to learn how to hydrofoil? Starting behind a boat! Learning behind the boat allows you to fully focus on the foiling itself, rather than worrying about the kite. It's essentially the trainer kite for foiling. This controlled environment allows you to understand how foils operate based on small adjustments. 

Before You Hit the Water

You can foil behind a multitude of different watercraft, from a wakeboard boat to a jetski to a pontoon boat! You will want to ensure you have an intermediate level of experience in water sports that involve boats before you give a go at foiling; for example wakeboarding, waterskiing, etc. You may even want to take some time to try riding a wakesurf behind a boat before attempting the foil. 


  • Foil
    • 8-12 mph boat speed - Low aspect/ high volume wings (Slingshot H2 & H4, Naish Thrust L surf & WS, Lift 170, Gofoil Iwa, Gofoil Maliko, Cloud 9 P27, Delta Surf, Delta Mega surf)
    • 10-14 mph boat speed - Low aspect/ Medium volume wings (Slingshot H1, Naish Thrust M, Liquid Force Impulse, Lift 150, Gofoil Kai, Cloud 9 S24)
  • Board
    • Check out our foilboard options here
  • Helmet
    • Check out our helmet options here
  • Life Vest
  • Neoprene
    • We've got wetsuits in all thicknesses and sizes. 
  • Rope
    • You'll want a longer rope that keeps you a bit farther back from the boat in order to avoid the turbulent waters.
  • Mast
    • We recommend using a shorter mast, a 15" or even 20" size, while starting out.
    • Make sure the mast is positioned as far back on the board as possible.
  • Straps
    • Either no straps, or the Slingshot Half Straps. Having the ability to bail is key when you're first starting out!

Keep in mind that when you get up on a foil, you'll want to fall away from it. Be sure to jump in the opposite direction of the board. 

Printable Steps for the Water 

Step 1: Make sure the board is perpendicular to the direction of the rope

  • Have the driver place the boat in gear or idle forward at a slow speed. Use this pressure to place your feet on the foil.

Step 2: Give the driver the signal to slowly and smoothly accelerate 

  • Have the driver maintain a speed of 9-12mph. Speed may vary depending on the board, rider and foil you are using.  

Step 3: Find the sweet spot on the board 

  • Maintain as much front foot pressure as possible. You don't want to come up on foil too early.
  • Have two hands on the rope. This will promote more forward pressure.
  • Square up your hips and shoulders on the board. Bend your knees. 

Step 4: Learn how to Fly

  • Transfer your weight by leaning back and applying pressure to your back foot. 
  • Keep the movements subtle.

Step 5: Be aware of foil size

  • If you're foil is smaller, you may find yourself breaching.
  • You will know you are breaching if the foil is making gurgling noises, and you eventually fall forward. 

Step 6: Get comfortable

  • Practice turning and moving up and down.
  • Maintain staying up on the foil within breaching. 
  • You may eventually want to move to a longer mast. 

Step 7: A longer foil

  • Move to a 20" to 24" mast.
  • Speed up your turns and learn how to pump the foil.
  • Pay attention to how the foil reacts in different situations. 

Follow these seven steps and you'll be ready to take the foil behind the kite and in the waves in no time!