Pandemic beaches closed goal: Dock Starting – Success

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    My goodness, the learning curve is exponential on this one – it feels impossible for a long time, and then all of a sudden it feels easy and gets really fun. I somehow felt that since I can pump well enough to do the occasional 2for1 in the waves that dock starting shouldn’t be so hard. Just get the board lined up and step on, right?

    There’s almost no tutorial information out there on dock starting, so I’ll try and outline what I’ve learned so far. Let’s use this thread to add other tips if anyone else is doing/learning/practicing this.

    1) Equipment – Foil: biggest high aspect wing you can get ahold of. I am having a great time on a GoFoil GL240 at #210. Didn’t fare so well on the GL210 or GL140, but I’ll try those again sooner or later
    2) Equipment – Board: smaller and lighter is obviously going to be better. Make sure the board center of mass is directly over the foil’s center of lift. You can tune this by lightly pushing the board from its tail with the foil in the water. If the foil noses up or dives, you got it wrong. Tactile AND visual feedback on the deckpad to get your feet centered and positioned fore-aft is super helpful (perhaps essential for learning).
    3) The Dock: Most importantly, make sure it is easy to get out of the water, a swim ladder is so so nice. You’ll be getting out of the water over and over and over. 24″ off the water is working great for me, probably could stand to be a bit lower. I learned where there is only a 10ft span between obstructions, and I wished to have more length.
    4) Conditions: mirror surface with minimum of wind actually makes a noticeable difference. For some reason the disturbed top layer of water from either wind or reflected swell seems like it is harder to maintain the pump.

    How To:
    1) put the board in the water and the foil just barely in the water. Hold both sides of the board and start it moving just with your upper body motion. For me it is helpful to nose it up just a tiny bit to make sure it stays high in the water
    2) smoothly move your back hand to the tail and keep pushing while you take your first step, you might need to push down and forward on the tail to keep the board from nose-ing down.
    3) two more steps to accelerate and step on. If the dock is the right height, the board is pretty level with the dock now.
    4) BACK FOOT must land first followed right after by the front foot and into the pumping motion. Its easier to get the pumping started with your back foot a bit more forward than you think – it can slide back after a couple of pumps bring you into rhythm and up to speed.
    5) It is imperative that you get your foot position corrected during the first pump cycle. Really focus on shifting both feet on that first unweighting pump motion, this is could be the thing I figured out that made the biggest difference.

    1) Mentally commit to at least 100 attempts before giving up. I started seeing promise around 60 attempts. By 100 attempts I knew I was going to get it, but it did take another session to get to where I could make about half my attempts.
    2) spend some time NOT trying to pump – just focus on the motion of accelerating the board on the dock, jumping on, and correcting your foot position. Just try to get the weighting right and glide as straight and as far as you can. I made myself do this a dozen times when I was getting really frustrated and it really helped me figure things out.
    3) pumping is a lot easier the higher the foil is in the water. Every pump has to lift all the water above the wing, so the deeper it is, the more energy goes to lifting all that water. The difference is dramatic, so don’t let the board get low before you even get onto it. One of the progression podcasts mentioned that it is also easier to pump in shallow water because there is some kind of “ground effect”, but I haven’t experienced that myself yet.

    Next steps:
    * Now I’m working on shorter takeoff on the dock. Essentially trying to get to where I could “rock start” off the side of a boat or a jetty. Just push the board and jump on away from the dock.
    * When I get my attempt ratio up a bit more, I’ll switch to a smaller faster foil and work that a bit.
    * Excited to be able to play around with foil/tail setups and get immediate pumping feedback because I don’t have to wait for swell and get out to the break to test
    * Planning to get my SUP foil board back on the water and work on flatwater starts

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    Nice work!
    I recon dock starts and beach starts are perfect for tuning in your set up. You can leave your tools close by, and adjust the mast position and tail wings etc, then re-test in exactly the same conditions.
    It’s hard to do the same in the surf.


    oh my god, it just keeps getting better. I had an absolutely fantastic 1 hour session this morning in completely flat water. So fun. I think I’m going to lose 10 pounds if I keep this up. Highly recommend adding a local dock spot to your list for when the swell is flat.


    I put in at least 50 attempts this weekend and I think the biggest problem is that my 40 year old body still thinks it’s 25!

    Long story short, had my 5’0 prone foil with a massive wing I made this winter, and my 4’ wakefoil board with another foil setup.
    I broke my massive wing, and tore out the front wing from the fuse on the other.

    Back to the drawing board and the hot tub. I got about 4 pumps and 25’ from the dock so I will take a bit of success.

    Shorter lighter board worked way better.


    Flat water foiling is a whole discipline in itself. Good stuff


    Brought out the camera this morning and had a fun session with the GL240 and GL210. The 210 took a little practice to get it going off the dock, but then it doesn’t really seem like it needs more effort, just less forgiving.


    I spent a bunch more time practicing since I last posted. I went from barely being about to get going on my GL210 to nailing it every time now. Now that I have the hang of it, the 210 is not much more energy intensive to pump – it requires more speed in the first place and is a lot less forgiving of timing and touchdowns. I can rest for just a moment and glide on the 240 if I’m high enough and have enough speed – can’t do that on the 210 (yet?).

    Two new learnings I discovered that really help me:
    * when trying to recover from being too low and slow, actively scoot the board forward with your feet during the unweight portion of the pump. That seems to get the foil a little extra speed which helps it to rise up higher each pump.
    * don’t let the board get ahead of you before you jump off the dock. not sure why, but if I have to jump forward to get on the board I’m failing every time. When I keep the board right alongside me as I’m running it seems to work much better.


    That tip about not jumping to get on foil will probably save us all some wrecks. Not sure why it is but when you watch dock start videos the people jumping out to the foil get bucked.


    All that time practicing is really paying of! Looks really good.

    If you fly at a higher altitude while pumping you’ll be shocked at how much more efficient the pumping becomes.

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