I first came across Bug foils in 2017. I was quite impressed by this brand, offering 100% carbon foils at a very low price comparing to the competition. We got in touch with Bug and their founder, Rajko, to see if I could test out and review one of their foils.
I received the “discount” foil which is indeed made in carbon, very light, and with a beautiful varnished finish. The size of the front wing is impressive and is really the perfect weapon for light wind conditions.
Rider: Jason Clarke
- Age: 29
- Home town: Kettering, Northamptonshire
- Home spot: Pitsford Reservoir
- How long have you been windsurfing: 17 years
- Profession: Project Engineer in composite manufacture
- Prizes: 2014 British Formula windsurfing champion
- Approximate number of hours flying on a foil: 200+ hours
Windfoil Zone: Jason, you have been testing the Bug hydrofoil during the whole summer. It’s time to give us a full report on this windfoil. Tell us what was your first impression when you received the foil:
JC: The foil arrived in 4 separate pieces which come protected in their own protective sleeves to prevent damage whilst in storage or transit. The ability to dismantle the foil into 4 pieces makes it incredibly modular and easy to store or travel with. Once revealed from the sleeves, the high gloss carbon finish is exposed and really does stand out.
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The foil is easy to assemble with 3 screws for the fuselage and mast, 3 screws for the main wing and 2 screws for the stabiliser. These are all stainless steel and come supplied with the foil. I always like to add a little thread lock on assembly to prevent corrosion and loosening of the bolts on vibration during use, its more a peace of mind than a requirement.
Once assembled the foil is of a reasonable weight but nothing too excessive and fitted nicely into my Patrik 128 slalom board.
WZ: What were your very first impression on the water?
JC: My first flight on the Bug foil was on a less than favorable day as it always is when you have new toys. The wind speed was around 8 knots so I chose to rig an 8.6m sail to ensure I got up and flying. Once on the water, it took a few pumps of the sail to get the board up to speed, and then I could apply a small amount of back foot pressure to get the board flying.
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Before you know it the board rises up quite quickly and you have to sheet out the sail and then look to maintain sail power and adjust your weight to keep the flight maintained. My first runs were short but such a thrill and so addictive.
I had done a lot of research before taking to the water, so knew what I needed to do to control the foil and progressed quite quickly. I’d say it’s actually really easy to learn to foil and you only need to be of an intermediate standard normally where your comfortable sailing in the harness and foot straps.
WZ: Describe how the foil behaves in light wind and similarly in more windy conditions. What is the wind range for this foil?
JC: For light winds I use the large rear wing to give more lift and allow you to get flying quicker, this would be from 6 knots and I’ve used it up to about 25knots. The smaller rear wing is good from 15 knots upwards but generally, either wing works well in all conditions you just have to adapt your riding style slightly.
The rear wing will generate more lift so requires a little more front foot pressure to keep the ride height stable. The smaller rear wing has a more natural windsurf stance where you can lean back on your back leg. As the speed increases and to the wind the rider will naturally need to transfer a little more weight to the front foot.
I have always found that if you can get the foil riding with the nose pointing down, this is the sweet spot, this creates an angle of attack in which the foil is constantly creating lift and drive something that the Americas cup catamarans could be seen doing. It does feel strange at first but is very fast.
The lightest wind I’ve used the bug foil in are around 5-6 knots with a formula board and 8.6m sail a lot of pumping required but it worked. Strongest winds was around 25-28 knots using a 6.3m sail but I should have really used a 5.6m.I always choose to use 1.5m-2m less than if I was regular windsurfing but as you improve in control and confidence you can close this gap.
WZ: Who is this windfoil suitable for?
JC: This windfoil is great for all users, it takes off smoothly and can be ridden at slow speed or a more aggressive rider could take off quickly, efficiently and fly at quite some speed. I would say more advanced windfoilers would like the bug foil. It offers good speed and stability and is easy to use.
I’m not a big-time GPS user, but on the occasions, I’ve used one, I have gone around 20 knots but this was in the early days of learning, so I’m sure I have more speed now.
The Bug is a great foil for all, from anyone who wants to get into foiling as a beginner or advance foilers looking to go fast or progress to jumping. The Bug foil is a very stable platform once flying and is so easy to maintain a constant height. The only negative is it takes a little more power to get up and flying in comparison to the Horue or Neilpryde Carbon foil, but it’s a very small difference.
I have spent some time using the Horue and Neilpryde foils of which the Neilpryde required a lot more balance to control the height and felt very playful in height control. The Horue was almost smiliar in feeling to the Bug foil. I could most certainly recommend the Bug foil for all foil users as there are some great upgrades coming to the next model of the bug foil and also the fact that it comes at a very competitive price.
WZ: Jason, thanks for reviewing the BUG foil for Windfoil Zone. Do you have any final word to share with our windfoil community?
JC: If you haven’t tried foiling yet, you certainly should give it a go. I know there are some skeptics out there but it really does open up the wind range and time on the water. Those windless summers will turn into non-stop fun with friends.
I spent my whole summer flying with my training buddy Pete whilst everyone else watched from the beach waiting for wind. If any windsurfers have any questions on windfoiling or just want to follow my foiling experience, find me on all social media platforms.
Thanks to Windfoil Zone, keep up the great work!
Bug Founder Interview
Name: Rajko Žužek
Home spot: Lakes around Maribor
WZ: Rajko, could you give us a little glimpse of your personal life?
RZ: I was born near the Adriatic coast and that region is known for its strong “Bora” winds. I will never forget the moment that I saw a “power jibe” for the first time from the beach and I immediately started to windsurf after that. Then my studies took me away from the coast, but I got married and I have an 18-year-old son.
It took me a long time to realise that “follow your dreams” is not just an idealistic perspective of your career, but the only path to choose – though it is definitely not the easiest! After finishing technical high school, I studied economics at university and then worked in the banking industry for 15 years. I was working with companies that were not able to pay off their debts, but then I got a new opportunity to become a general manager of a composite company with 120 employees. This was the point of no return…
I literally soaked up everything that I could, all the knowledge of shaping and producing materials, and all the techniques that modern composite production has combined. I was able to combine those experiences, information, connections in the industry, and suppliers and used them to establish my own company back in 2007.
We started out with producing different parts for boats, gardening equipment, pools, etc… and then in 2011, we started with carbon composites. Weed fins were my first carbon products and followed by CAD shaped slalom fins. I am completely involved into the R&D process and trying to find out optimal production procedures to maximise each products’ performance.
WZ: Tell us a little bit more about your windsurfing background and your foiling experience.
RZ: I started windsurfing in 1986 and practiced for 4 years. However, once I begin university, I didn’t have the time to invest in both windsurfing and my studies. After a pause in windsurfing, I started up again in 2003 and since then, I am strongly connected to this beautiful sport.
I am constantly searching for a better windsurfing experience each time that I’m out on the water, looking for a bigger rush. I have tried freestyling, which isn’t really for me, after that I switched to slalom windsurfing and then I finally got into waves. As I am usually windsurfing on local lakes with low wind conditions, foils are a logical solution.
Just making a few jibes and waiting for the gusts with big sails was not exciting for me anymore, so foiling opened new opportunities and offered lots of excitement again. You know… when you stop learning, you stop windsurfing! Now I take a foil board into every session, even when there are wave conditions.
It is a lot of fun! I try to control the ride in all aspects and when you get flying in complete silence, it is just amazing! I can definitely say that foiling can offer that missing spark to a spoiled windsurfer with over 15 seasons under his belt!
WZ: What about your brand BUG, can you tell us the story behind it?
RZ: Bug is a direct translation of my family name. It is short, direct, and easy to remember. Maybe it’s a bit provocative or just wicked. I launched it in 2011 when I started to make windsurfing fins.
“Project windfoil” started in mid-2016 when I found a shaper, crazy enough to take the challenge. I used expert knowledge in each stage, as CAD shaping, CNC milling, and making some special equipment. I personally do all the “wet” stages, and then my co-workers perform the finishing stages of the foil.
Making high-performance carbon parts are really challenging, as my budget is limited and technical details are pretty secured. You need a lot of creativity, use different simulations, and listen to experts from related fields. Even if it sounds like a cliché, never give up! This is the foundation of the BUG brand and the people standing behind it.
The brand’s objective is to become a known brand with the best ratio between price and quality. Right now, it looks as though the carbon parts department will grow fast while production capacity will double in the meantime.
Of course, we will grow bigger but expansion is not a primarily goal.
WZ: Your carbon foils have a very competitive price. Could you tell us more about the concept behind the foil and how you are able to offer such a low price?
RZ: Since the Bug windfoil was launched into the market in April 2017, I just want to make it accessible to a wide range of windsurfers. This means that related costs as CAD shaping, producing molds, our building, special equipment, advertising… these are all covered from other revenue sources.
Another important point is that sales are performed directly through us, without retailers or middlemen. This way we have direct contact with the customers, we can advise them and share details about fine-tuning and driving techniques within a variety of conditions.
Of course, client feedback is very important to us and when we hear positive feedback, it’s always very rewarding.
WZ: What would you say is differentiating your foils from other brands?
RZ: The shape of the Bug windfoil is as compact as it gets. The design objectives are totally achieved, meaning that the foil turns sharp, upwind angles are amazing, you can even ride downwind with no sail force.
The wings are swept back and this actually helps keeping the nose of the board up. Also, our modular system allows easy transport and the wings’ flexibility is optimized so you can pump the foil up and down and get flying.
I must say that the foil is built a little bit too strong, but we just wanted to start producing a product without any breakage issues.
WZ: What is your view on the new foiling movement? Will it remain a niche, a bit like formula windsurfing, or do you think it will continue to grow and reach a larger public?
RZ: The most common words I heard when speaking to others about foiling are: addictive, stoked, fun, excitement, and I totally agree with this as my feelings are the same. Foiling allows you to have an exciting ride by cruising on flat water or going sharp upwind or fall into downwind.
Also, for onshore messy, low-wind, choppy conditions, you can ride effortlessly and enjoy a new mix of natural elements! Equipment with such “fun” potential can only grow and more and more windsurfers will start using foils.
WZ: Thanks for answering all of our questions, Rajko. Before finishing off, you have the final word, anything else that you would like to add or share with our windfoil community?
RZ: Windfoiling is not a dangerous way to windsurf. I am definitely among rusty riders and it works also for us. My oldest client is 71 years old and he is foiling safely!
Since my first flights on a foil, I haven’t had any hard falls… You can fly at really low speed, it is just like when you ride a bike and jump off onto your feet. Foiling is allowing us to use smaller sails: You can resell your low wind equipment and replace it with a foil. You will feel the same excitement using a foil, as when doing your first glides on a windsurf.
Your mates will get used to seeing you stay out longer on the water, and you will double your windsurfing day!
Good winds to all!