Learning to Downwind Foil

So with the Downwind foil starting to get more and more poplar we thought we would run through a few tips that will really help to get you started. We will break it down from the very start and go in to what gear you will need what conditions you should start with and how to start. 

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What level do I need to be to start downwinding? 

When it comes to Foil downwinding it requires a bit of practice in other areas to really make the most of it and to really get ahead of the learning curve. There are quite a few things to help speed up the process. 

1: Learn behind a boat as this will give you good foil balance, make sure you are letting go of the rope and just riding the wake and trying to go from one wake to another.

2: Get in the waves as this can really help, learning to catch a wave and then pump from one wave to another is a key part. Many times while DW foiling you need to transition from bump to bump so learning to stay up on the foil while not on a wave is good practice.

3: Pumping up in the flatwater, now this might not be something that everyone can achieve but is still something that should be practiced as it helps with timing and with a lot of foiling timing is a real key to success.  We will be releasing a how to Flatwater pump up soon so check it out as it might help for this.

Learning behind a Jetski or Boat to start first

What conditions are best for learning? 

Conditions play a huge part in learning and picking the right days to go might be the difference between success and failure. 

1: Small swell with the wind straight behind you is the first part, you want small swell as it moves slower and when you are learning you will more than likely be on a bigger wing so if the swell is big and moving fast then these swells can out run the bigger foils and it can make it very hard to learn. 

Pick your Days to Learn, small surf like in Video above
2: Wind behind you and 20 knots plus is idea  as you will be mostly riding wind chop to start with. Having the wind behind you allows you to angle both ways across the swell with ease and takes away the only tracking one way which can be harder when learning. Having good solid wind also help with the getting up and creates more wedges in the ocean which we use to pump up on. 

If you time it right you can pump up without even really paddling but you have to really work on timing and picking the right bumps to go for.

What gear do I need? 

This is also very important and you really have to sort the gear to the conditions you are learning in. 


Production Boards


Maybe a Custom?

Foils: When learning it is always better to be over foiled which means too big a foil as if you are under foiled you will spend way too much time just trying to get up as opposed to over foiled where it should be easier to get up and then once up its just learning to control what’s going on. Paddling a 5 to 7ft board is no fun over a long distance so being up on the foil is far more fun. 

Look at the conditions you are about to go out in as well for example if you lived in Hawaii you might learn on a smaller wing than say the guys on the East coast of Australia where winds are far lighter so they will need larger wings. 


Mast heights:  At the start we were all using 60cm masts but now its 75-90cm masts and the longer masts really help as the bumps get bigger and you will breach far less with the longer masts. Please note that the longer masts can be a litter harder to get up with when first using them.

Boards:  Like in the beginning of the sport really any board will work and if you have to save money, just converting an old SUP can work but the more you get into it the more you realize the Downwind foil boards that are built for the job are far better.

You want to ride as short as you can where you are still comfortable to paddle around, if your board is too small and you cannot paddle it so well then you will find it hard to put enough power in to the paddle strokes to get you up and this will make life hard. Keeping the board nice and light also helps as does getting one with nice bevelled rails and the right amount of tail kick after the foil boxes.


All these little things can really add up and this can be the difference in how long it takes to learn.

Please check out the Video’s here and we hope that you learn something from them. You can also contact us at ONE Ocean Sports via the contact page and we will endeavour to help you out.

The first sessions in DW: Now this is from personal experience and the first few DW sessions can be frustrating so keep them short, we recommend no longer than 5km as it is pretty physical and if you are working hard to get up and stay up then by the end of 5km you probably will not have enough energy left to get up any more anyway. You will know when you can go longer but set goals of staying up for a certain distance, mine was getting to that 1km without coming down and once I got to this it all really just started to click. 

Hood River Downwind Foiling

Once it does click you can do 20km or longer at a very easy physical rate and it will go from something that was super hard to something very easy!!

Don't give up as the reward is well worth it as you will see in the video’s below and even though the first few times will be tough it will get easier and once it does it will be one of the greatest things you ever do!!