I was happy to hear from a wonderful client from my past career and his son who is interested in wingfoiling. Eric purchased a nice foilboard and foil but hadn't ever done it before. He lives nearby and we set up a time to get him behind the boat and some wing practice. Spoiler alert, Eric was a natural and so here is a shot of him foiling very well at the end of his lesson!
First things first, we did a quick safety talk and then it was time for the simulator. For foiling, I find that most people overestimate the amount of foot pressure needed to balance the foil. I've set up a super basic balance board as part of my lesson. Eric quickly got the hang of it. (I noted that the amount of backfoot "Ollie" to pop the foil is as minimal as the effort to get the balance board up off the back foot.) He has done a lot of surfing but realized that the foil was going to be even more sensitive than a surfboard.
We got in the boat and headed down the Key River to where it is wide and deep. I put him on my Fanatic Stingray 140 which is a wide stable board that you can stand up on even without the boat moving. He started with the massive Slingshot 99 foil beneath him. As we picked up speed he moved from his hands and knees and stood up easily.
I had the rope on the port side of the boat as he is regular foot, and told him to stay on that side. (Too many beginners try and go right behind the boat - being off to the side gives you something to lean against and control your heel/toe pressure.) He was able to get up on the foil and keep himself wide of the wake. By the 3rd try he was flying the foil consistently and I actually had to stop as we ran into a narrow part of the river.
We moved to the next wide spot in the river and Eric was back up again, waving at people in their fishing boat. Now he started weaving in toward the boat wake and back out again. Eventually he was trying to surf the boat wake and had a decent wobble and fall, but he clearly got the hang of foiling more quickly than anyone I've taught so far.
(Note for boat drivers: It is important to keep the boat at around 10 knots, which is right around the speed that it is starting to plane and then wants to go faster, reduce the throttle, and it falls back off. So to keep the boat speed steady, you actually have to keep moderating the throttle which is then also affected by how hard the foiler is leaning against the foil!)
It was time for a break though so we headed to the dock and set up his carbon Slingshot gear. This was more difficult to use as the 120l board is narrower and hard to stand on. His first two falls were a bit dramatic, with the lighter, smaller board shooting out like a watermelon seed. (He then did accept my offer of the helmet.) But with the experience of the bigger board behind him, he quickly mastered the smaller board too, and got a round of applause from nice neighbours on their dock. We did two more runs in the colder waters out in Georgian Bay and docked at the Launch Pad.
I need to give a special thanks to my wife Jennifer for acting as spotter and taking such great photos! After a hot shower and quick dinner Eric wanted more. We set up a wing for some tutorials on that. With a background in sailing, he understood the wind and was flying the wing and practicing tacking. I put him on my nice new Fanatic Viper and he floated around with the wing in the less than ideal 2-5 knot NE swirling winds. Definitely not enough wind for wingfoiling this day.
All in all it was a fantastic introduction to foiling lesson. Basics and foil simulation on land, a good beginner board, then onto a smaller more maneuverable one. Some wing basics on land and water. Hopefully next time, Eric will be putting the foiling and winging together on a nice 15 knot day...