Learning to Foil on the F-One Foil with Mitu convertible and Freeride 800 Foil
I've been wanting to learn to foil for some time now. There's a huge foling scene in the Columbia river gorge with many wide river spots. Light wind days are rare in the gorge but now I'm never skunked on those. I was debating between getting a foil or a light wind kite, and very happy I went with the foil. Once I saw that F-One was offering a foil that attached to a surfboard I pulled the trigger and ordered it. I liked the convertible as I didn't want another board dedicated to only foiling. We camp in our truck when we kite and it would be a pain to bring another board all the time just for the few times the wind is light to foil. After talking to a local foil expert, stringy, I went with the F-One Freeride 800 cm foil wing as it would be much easier to learn on.
I had been riding the 5'6 mitu convertible surfboard on the oregon coast and Columbia river all summer and had been extremely impressed with it. It offered a ton of stability which made learning foot swaps and tacks a breeze while turning very fast at the same time. Also the foilbox didn't add any noticeable weight to the board.
The wing was very easy to put together and attach to the board. It took only 3 screws to put the entire foil on the board and the foil felt very solid on the board and surprisingly light weight. I was nervous that the convertible surfboard would sacrifice something in the surf or foiling but the design and construction was solid and it was clear there wouldn't be any sacrifice with the convertible setup.
I immediately felt like a beginner again. Remembered the feeling of being nervous with other kiters close by and fumbling with the board and kite. I also realized I should have watched some more instructional videos. The foil is difficult to maneuver in the water, and you cant just move it around with you feet like a normal surfboard. With the foil the board only goes straight, not side to side or backwards, just straight. I remembered seeing that you had to put the board on edge to maneuver it around so after doing that I could situate the board to get started. I dove the kite and immediately face planted. After a few face plants I learned that you cant force the board with your feet and to point it straight downwind to get started. I kept getting bucked off the board and tried to weight my front foot and just keep the surfboard on the water to get a feel for it. I had a few short rides on the foil but was pretty discouraged that day.
It clicked! I could ride the foil and use my weight to get it to raise and fall in the water. Also wasn't getting nervous and bailing off the board when the speed really picked up, and when the board rose very fast I could weight my front foot to bring it back down. The session was short as I was hurting from all the high speed falls and the wind was getting to be to much for the foil, but came away from the day very stoked on the foil.
Had a perfect light wind day at Sauvies island, a popular foiling spot. People on twintips were riding 15 and 17m kites and I was perfect on the 11 with the foil. I was amazed how fast you could get going on it, and had no trouble passing people on the Liquid Force foils. The 800 seemed to be a perfect balance of stability and speed, great for learning but also allows you to progress on it as well. Also learned an important rule about foiling with larger kites in light wind, always keep the kite in the air! I dropped my kite in a windshadow and struggled with the relaunch until someone came by and lifted my kite on its side to hot launch it. Feeling better I started to try for some jibes, couldn't get the foot swap but think it will come soon.
Overall I'm very pleased with the F-One Mitu Convertible and 800 Freeride wing. The surfboard works great as a foilboard and the rockered tip helps when the board dives and keeps you from going over the handlebars. I put my feet on the back hump where the foilbox is, and in the front there's a small ridge on the pads so you always know where your feet are. Look forward to getting out more on the foil as it adds another dimension to the sport.
A few tips I took from learning that may help:
Always point the board downwind when starting
Bend your knees and roll onto the board
Ride with your knees bent
At first just spend time with the board on the water, then slowly raise the foil by leaning back and lower it back to the water.