Fuel your enthusiasm with Foiling


Unless you’ve been offline for a while you’ll have noticed the emergence of Hydrofoils. Not just in sailing and windsurfing, but on almost every type of watercraft going. Only a few years ago foiling might have seemed like a novelty or a side show for windsurfing and sailing professionals, but now it is firmly cementing itself as the fastest growing area we’ve seen in years.

There’s no doubt that foiling is capturing people’s attention, whether for general interest or personal sailing, and with foiling equipment having progressed enormously in the last few years, it places accessible and cost effective products in our reach, as well as for RYA training centres and clubs.

Alongside the increased accessible, foiling brings the fun, excitement and an inspirational element, most definitely bringing the ‘wow’ factor back to many of us who may have mislaid our sailing spark, with many first timers having commented on how foiling has reignited the ‘sailing’ fire, through its exhilaration, increased opportunities to get afloat and excitement to learn new skills, helping us remain connected to sailing. 

So why has the RYA got involved?

The great news is that the kit, locations and even RYA instructors are now in place to help a wider range of sailors take flight. RYA Chief Instructor for Dinghy and Windsurfing, Amanda Van Santen, is the instigator behind the foiling courses, having spotted a need for foiling to become more accessible to mainstream sailing.

“It was my aspiration to make foiling more accessible and through our RYA Training Centres delivering safe tuition, I believe we are perfectly placed to do this. Our network of participating centres, who have invested in specific equipment, provide an easier and more accessible route through; correctly set up kit; and trained Instructors in a safe environment. In as little as two hours you may have potentially experienced your first foiling take-off.”

Quantifying the sensation of foiling is always difficult but feedback from those taking their first flights have the same recurring themes. Without the surface impact the obvious and best way to describe the sensation is ‘flying’.

RYA Foiling Instructor David Horan said: “One of the best bits of foiling is that moment when you first take off and its silence as you glide over the water. The quietness makes it difference from normal windsurfing, its more peaceful and calm.” 

As the demand has increased, the range of equipment available has caught up for both windsurfing and sailing, further reinforcing how getting your first flights in foiling is now well within the reach of the intermediate sailor and windsurfer.

Because foiling produces lift and drive in marginal winds it maximises performance efficiency and speed. This assists us in many ways such as opening up the lower wind speeds we can sail in, reduces the range of windsurfing sails you might need to get on the water and increases the opportunities we have for lower level sailors to sail at a higher performance level.

So is it for you?

Assisted by the official launch of specific RYA foiling courses, as of January 2019, RYA Foiling Courses are now available at RYA Training centres through the RYA Sailing and Windsurfing schemes, with three courses designed to help and progress students. So if you are around an Intermediate windsurfer, blasting in the footstraps, or Level 2/3 sailor, able to sail a Laser in a breeze, you can learn to foil.

The RYA First Flights course is designed as a short taster session, getting you up and out on the water for the first time for that all-important ‘money shot’ photo. The Sustained and Performance Flight then build and progress the skills and techniques required.

Tuition plays such a crucial part in gaining and embedding the right skills and techniques early on. A combination of the correct coaching points, the right learning environment and good equipment set, increase the frequency of success and development.

There are quite a few RYA centres already running the RYA Foiling courses, UK and abroad, and by visiting www.rya.org.uk/go/wheresmynearest you will be able to find a centre near you.

Complementing the new course additions to both the Sailing and Windsurfing Schemes, RYA Foiling Publication (G101) was launched at this year’s Dingy Show in March. The new book is designed to be read alongside the First Flights and Sustained Flights courses, and is the first to cover foiling both for dinghy sailors and windsurfers. It features clear illustrations, an easy-to-follow layout, and authoritative text based on the RYA’s world-renowned training scheme.

As a short guide, it is designed to be a helpful resource for those getting acquainted with foiling, an entry level foiling book to get someone who is a competent sailor or windsurfer an wants to take ‘flight to foiling’.

Find out more

To find out more about taking your first foiling flight, check out RYA.org.uk/go/sailfoil or RYA.org.uk/go/windfoil.

Look out for a more in-depth article on foiling in the Summer edition of RYA Magazine – our quarterly members only publication providing you with a range of the latest news and updates on the RYA combined with more in-depth articles covering all aspects of the boating spectrum.