The bright and dark sides of kite foilboarding

January 28, 2014 | Kiteboarding
Kite foilboarding: Bruno Sroka loves it

Foilboarding is conquering new enthusiasts. Some say it's the fastest growing class in kiteboarding, some say it's hasn't future. So, what's good and bad in the hydrofoil design?

Foilboarding, kite foiling, hydrofoil kiteboarding, foil kiteboarding. Actually, you can call it many names, but it all leads to the same discipline. Riding a kite with a hydrofoil board under your feet.

Hydrofoils have been used on different watercraft since 1906, when Enrico Forlanini, an Italian inventor, introduced the first foil design in a boat.

In the early 1960s, Walter Woodward, an aeronautical engineer from Upper Newton Falls, Massachusetts, developed the first waterski hydrofoil. It looked cool and futuristic.

In 1972, Mike Murphy and Bud Holst developed the kneeboard for water skiing. The concept was improved in detail over the next couple of decades, until Mike Mack's own "Mackstrap" saw the light of day. It was a heel strap used on a hydrofoil slalom ski, similar to the modern units.

Surfers rode big waves with a foilboard, windsurfers tested it in speed channels, and kiteboarders are getting hydrofoils popular in the market. So...

What makes foilboarding a great opportunity for the development of kiteboarding?

1. Speed matters; foil kiteboards are faster than all other kite boards because they have less drag;
2. No more bumps; sailors can ride above the waves and the bumpy water surface, and so they won't feel the impact of rough waters;
3. Less physical effort; sailors feel a "light" ride with a hydrofoil under their feet;
4. Angle higher into the wind; the hydrofoil's underwater skills are smarter than the traditional board;
5. Turn faster; the hydrofoil blade "cuts" the water for you;
6. Media-friendly innovation; the futuristic look attracts cameras and spectators;
7. Great for light winds;

Why is foilboarding considered a no-future kiteboarding class?

1. The danger factor; you don't want to be hit by a hydrofoil whether you're riding sharp razors or light carbon;
2. Not a Freestyle and Wave toy; the hydrofoil is not suited for innovative tricks and wave face cutbacks;
3. Not handy; it's not easier to travel with a foil kite board;
4. Price; foilboarding is still more expensive than the traditional kiteboarding disciplines;
5. Shock sensitivity; kelp, fishes and plastic bottles are dangerous obstacles;
6. Too exotic for sailing authorities; it won't be easy getting official recognition from the world's governing bodies;
7. Regular maintenance; you'll have to check the hydrofoil for damages, right after each sailing session;

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