Foiling Beginner's Guide

A Tale of the 4 Phases of Foiling

Phase 1: Mind = Blown

If you're anything like us, you remember the first time you saw someone foiling and it kinda blew your mind. Your second thought was likely "what the hell is that guy doing and how can I try it?!"

For us at Wicked Foils, it was the first time we saw someone wing foiling at Kanaha Beach Park in Maui. If you're still working on the lingo, wing foiling is when you use a handheld inflatable wing to harness the power of the wind to propel you through the water.

The other main type of foiling is surf foiling, where you use the momentum of a wave to lift your foil (see this video below of Kai Lenny surf foiling 11 waves in a row)



Phase 2: First Flight

Once you've decided to take the plunge, the easiest way to learn is behind a boat or jet ski (we'll cover gear in a sec). The key here is that you don't need much speed -- just enough to get stable with the board still touching the water and then lean back to give the foil enough of an angle to rise out of the water. We definitely didn't nail this on our first try, but after a couple attempts you'll start to get the hang of it. Remember to lean slightly forward after you feel the foil rise up so that you don't end up with the foil wing breaching the surface. 

That first time you feel the sensation of flying above the chop is one you won't forget. Check out these first-time flyers on a summer day in Massachusetts:

First Flight


Phase 3: Winging It

Between wing foiling and surf foiling, we found wing foiling to be a bit more straightforward to learn. The key to success here is getting the right gear -- and the most important is the foil.


  • Board: get a floaty board that isn't too long. If you're average weight (150 - 200 lbs), you're likely going to want a Wing SUP board with 80-120 Liters of volume. The longer the board the more water surface tension that you'll need to overcome to get on foil, so we'd recommend something shorter than 6' 6" for sure. 
  • Foil: the #1 reason why we started Wicked Foils was to help others avoid the same mistakes we made when buying our first foil. The key to progressing quickly in this sport is getting a foil with tons of lift so that you're not spending time struggling to get up and instead can focus on turns & pumping. Wicked Foils are designed to make foiling as easy as possible to learn at a price point that doesn't break the bank.
  • Wing: we've tried a ton of handheld wings, and honestly the differences are very minor. What matters most is getting a wing that's large enough to give you the power you need to get on foil without the need for a ton of pumping. We made the mistake of starting out on a wing that was too small (4 meter) for the wind speed in our area (~15 mph), and when we switched to a larger 6 meter wing, our sessions immediately got much easier. 

 Pictured below: Intrepid 1850 Carbon foil


Phase 4: Spreading the Stoke

At this point your family and friends have all grown tired of you talking about foiling non-stop. You spend hours scrolling through foil feeds on Instagram, dreaming about the next time you can get on the water.

Hit us up @wickedfoils and we'll listen, we promise

Stay stoked and ride wicked

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