(Another) Cowboy learns to foil. Beginner’s journal

Forums Beginner (Another) Cowboy learns to foil. Beginner’s journal

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    Hello all, I decided to chronicle my progress as a beginning foiler. I’m early 50’s, 140lbs advanced SUP surfer and paddle (10 years) intermediate surfer (started after SUP, weirdly) mostly prone surf now, longboards and mid lengths here on the SoCal point breaks. (North County LA)

    I built a foil a couple of years ago (build thread on another forum) and decided at the time to not learn to foil. Mostly fear of injury, didn’t want to miss work. Seems like it was good that I waited, much more info and better gear. Anyway, I decided to buy a real foil and learn before I jumped back into the garage. lol I bought a Gong Allvator XL with a couple of masts (45cm to learn on.) I mostly bought it because no one would admit to owning a cheap foil lol and I figured that someone should buy one and review it. If I hated it, I could mod it or sell it off and maybe the US guys could find out if they are good, bad, or middling. I’ll keep the board posted. (In good news, several people have spoken up about them now and I know their big classic wings are fine to learn on. (Also want to try the Pro wings as well once I know what I’m doing.)

    I converted my 7’4” Simmons SUP to learn on but I’ll be starting a SUP foil and a big-ass prone board as well in the next couple of weeks. Keep an eye out for build threads.

    Anyway, I’ve had the foil for a couple of weeks and haven’t been able to get behind a boat, so I’m being patient. Some folks have advised me to just paddle and practice managing the foil in the surf, etc.

    Went out for my get my feet wet paddle today, just paddling to feel the foil, no waves. It was strange and nerve wracking at first but actually, once I got all the nightmares from other beginners on the internet out of my head, it was pretty fun.

    Hard to paddle straight without fins, but I managed. Getting in and out was easier than I’d worried about. It’s actually pretty well behaved as long as you follow the usual rules. About the same hassle as my original 30”x10’6” SUP (big for my size.)

    Once I wore out and paddled in, I dropped my paddle and leash and took it out in the shallows to see the thing fly. I pushed it back and forth and was mesmerized by being able to push it and have it take off and cruise a few feet without me. After a few passes, I did some hop ons on my belly and felt the lift. Physics… unbelievable. I really can’t wait to get a prone board built as well.

    I’m off to San Diego next week, I’ll get some boat time and probably start paddling into baby waves, if there are any. If not, I’ll paddle in the marina and surf regular in decent waves. It’s started.

    Thanks to Erik from the Progression Project for talking in non alarming terms about jackknifes/tacos and the fact that your surf experience can get you hurt. That Kalama episode about cutbacks also made sense. Also, thanks to Ericfoil for showing Texas waves being foiled. That was a major inspiration for me to finally pull the trigger. I’ve got family in Texas on the coast and was conflicted by wanting to spend more time with them, but not give up surfing. (Yeah, selfish, but surfing is a big part of what keeps me on an even keel.) Also, my wife is amazing for always agreeing to go where there’s surf. Now FL and the Caribbean are on the menu as well. (If/when I learn this dark art.)

    Hopefully someone will find this stuff useful. For me it’s just a way to track this process. Might as well share, hey, it’s 2020 that’s what we do, right?

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    Foil Feed

    Great idea Surfcowboy!

    Welcome to the forums it’s great to have you around. I’m sure plenty of people will learn from you by learning about your journey as you progress.

    The time behind the boat will be incredible for your progress. As I’m sure you have heard it already but it really does make a huge difference to your learning phase.

    It will be great to keep up to date on your progress and I’m sure you will learn heaps from everyone one here.


    I’m actually stoked to read this. I’m originally from the west coast, Vancouver Island and Whistler BC up here in the great white north eh?
    I’m an intermediate surfer, totally addicted to the glide, however I moved to Toronto, Ontario 5 years ago.
    Just to keep the glide feeling alive, I’ve been wake surfing behind the boat at our cottage, but it was only so much fun.
    Last summer I stepped into a Clearwater foil kit, and tasked myself with making myself a board. The RideEngine shapers box was a critical tool to building my own board.

    Long story short, foilbrain is in full effect, after figuring out how to surf on a yoga ball behind a boat, I started shaping my own wings, just like the Clearwater kit gave me. (Pine wings that you have to glass yourself)

    Learning about high aspect, and a whole bunch of terms that went over my head like a 747, I started to understand what works and why.

    Foilbrain just shifted to second gear.

    Currently here in Toronto, you are able to surf the Great Lakes from fall, until they ice up. Surprisingly, the surf is pretty good if you start to do your wind research, as it’s all wind driven.

    As fickle as it is, there is a huge SUP and longboard community here, I’m one of the few with a short board. Regardless there can be super clean days with head high waves, and days where a sup can’t even catch a wave. There are bumps that a prone foil board can catch and ride for days, so that is my next project.
    I just picked up a NP GlideSurf with a med wing, and I’m just building my own XL wing as I can’t seem to get one yet.
    I’m really excited to get this out and giver a go! But unfortunately the lakes may ice up before I can finish glassing.
    I’m just going to have to wait for next spring…

    Foil brain is still in effect.

    In the meantime, the progression podcast is on in the work truck all day. I hope Erik does a foiling for beginners episode where they dumb everything down. I get how they are always talking with the experts, but I want them to talk it down to the dummies for an episode…

    Keep the stoke.


    McKeem, thanks and definitely start a build thread in the chop shop. I’ll share what I’ve learned about bagging and such. We need a good Fusion360 3D printing team on here and the home guys will blow up.

    Love that you learned on a Clearwater. Knowing what we do now about high aspect flat wings, I’ll bet that guy could put out a decent downwind wing kit. (Oh the irony of that!)

    I second the beginner podcast. It’d take more editing but Erik could do a compilation show speaking to some folks coming up now since we’re all benefiting from the shared knowledge and better gear/safer gear.


    Agreed TPP podcast is great for the amount of super talented, knowledgeable guys coming on the show, but as this sport is in its infancy, opening up millions of unridable breaks around the world, some people would take a lot of what they’re talking about and it would be way over their heads in terms of terminology, and relatability.

    I’d like to hear from no name joe, about his first year of foiling, what he learned and how.


    After my boat lesson, see other thread, today I went out for a paddle to see about catching some waves. I’ve been lax on SUP for a couple of years and so I’ve decided to be as patient as I can and let my skills and stamina come back over time.

    Today there was probably a bit too much swell for me, knee to waist sets. So I just paddled for soft waves and practiced timing my turns and fighting to keep the board straight. I probably went for 20 waves and got close to catching a couple to where I could feel the foil start to lift. I’ll get out in smaller waves with some reform if I can and likely start putting together some short rides (and crashes.)

    I’m curious as to what size a beginner should be catching. Seems like knee high is about the top of what is wise lol. Also, hoping to start on a specific foil SUP this week as well as I can now see why the tail sinking is bad for getting your back foot into position. But for now, just trying to be patient and let the muscle memory build.


    Where’d you go today cowboy? I saw Sarlo and friends on the cam this morning, but I missed the high tide. I went up to Mondo’s mid-day and it was pretty good foil conditions to learn.

    I’d say you’re looking for 1-2 foot waves. Just ignore the three footers and catch insiders for awhile. Shape is a bigger factor. The flatter and mushier the wave the better.

    Foil Feed

    Hdip is right. Shape is probably more important then size. The mushier the better. Also you don’t need them to be white water lines all the way to the beach. In fact the ideal wave to start on will break just enough to make it easy for you to catch and then just be a swell line that continues to roll in without breaking much at all.


    Hdip, I hit Sunset. Should have brought my longboard lol.

    I almost headed to Mondos I’d have laughed if we’d run into each other. As soon as this damn rain is over I’ll hit you up man. I can now see why certain spots are the jam for this.

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