Surfing is currently one of the world’s fastest growing sports. Its rapid growth has resulted in the creation of many derivatives of the sport, including foil surfing.
Foil surfing is one of the newest and most exhilarating ways to take to the water on a surfboard. However, the board is far more than the average surfboard you’d purchase at your local surf shop. A foil surfboard features a unique hydrodynamic fin with wings and a base. The fin is designed to lift the board (with you on top of it) out of the water when in forward motion. The result is a feeling of weightlessness that has yet to be achieved by any other style of surfing.
Foil surfboards are constructed differently from traditional surfboards. However, surfers have expressed an increased interest in adding foils to their current surfboards. This would allow them to attach or detach the foil depending on the wave size and which water sport they feel like experiencing.
This guide will help you determine if you can add a foil to your current surfboard, and if so, how you can do it.
Why Add a Foil to an Existing Board?
As a surfer, you know that new surfboards are not cheap. A new surfboard can run between roughly $700 and $2,000 depending on the size and style of board you want. This may increase your desire to use your current surfboard for multiple purposes, like traditional surfing and foil surfing.
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In theory, adding a foil to your current surfboard could save you money and allow you to enjoy two action sports with a single piece of equipment. However, traditional surfboards and foil surfboards are constructed differently, and this can present a number of problems when trying to convert your surfboard into a foil board and vice versa.
Difficulties of Adding a Foil to Your Current Board
Adding a foil to your current surfboard can be done… however, it may not be the most desirable option for you. A major difficulty of adding a foil to a traditional surfboard is that the board was not designed to withstand the weight and pressure of the foil setup.
A majority of foil blades available for purchase right now connect to the board using a four-screw plate mount with two tracks that are spaced 90mm apart. This means a major load is exerted where the box mount connects to the board, and this can cause the board to rupture.
Foil Surfboard Construction vs. Traditional Surfboard Construction
Foil surfboards are constructed to accommodate the load exerted by the plate mount and the blade itself. The back of a foil board is designed to be flat, so the foil can be connected at 90 degrees. Most surfboards include the element of rocker, which is the curve from the nose to the tail of the board.
Rocker allows for superior performance in certain wave conditions, but it keeps the surfboard from being entirely flat where a foil box mount would be placed. This means most traditional surfboards are not suitable for use with a foil blade. Additionally, foil surfboards traditionally provide more volume and stiffness, which may not be as desirable for many traditional surfers.
Traditional surfboards are constantly in contact with the water. Foil surfboards are only in contact for a short amount of time while catching the wave. This results in numerous structural differences due to the way each sport is performed. You may be able to use your surfboard as a foil board and vice versa, but the experience will be drastically different and likely less enjoyable.
Dangers of Adding a Foil to Your Surfboard
In addition to being a less enjoyable surf experience, using your traditional surfboard as a foil board can be dangerous for yourself and others in the water.
The leverage and load a 60cm to 90cm foil adds to your board may cause the board to break. This could result in a serious wipe-out for yourself, which can be dangerous depending on the size and power of the waves you’re riding.
Breakage would also cause the foil to separate from you and the board, causing it to sink to the bottom of the ocean, or worse, come in contact with other surfers and swimmers. A major responsibility of foil surfing is being aware of your equipment and your surroundings.
Being out your $1500+ foil is enough to make most surfers decide to pony up for a new, foil-ready surfboard.
How to Add a Foil
Despite the disadvantages and dangers of adding a foil to a traditional surfboard, it can still be done given the correct board construction and mounting system. In some cases, the surfboard must be custom-made to accommodate the foil and mounting gear. However, products are also available to help you convert your current board into a surf foil board.
The FoilMount System is designed exactly for this task, turning your surfboard into a foil board. The company has created a design that is easy to install and adjust. It is also compatible with a wide range of boards — hydrofoil boards and traditional surfboards — as long as they are not too narrow and don’t have too much bottom shape. FoilMount is designed to convert your surfboard, SUP, or wakesurf board into a surf foil board, kite foil, or wing foil.
The system is designed to be easy to install on your own. The FoilMount plate sticks to the bottom of your board using a specially-designed 3M adhesive tape. This tape has been created specifically for epoxy and polyester resin surfaces, and the bond is extremely strong.
The FoilMount system can be difficult to remove without causing damage to your surfboard. However, the box causes minimal drag, so, unless you’re an advanced surfer, you won’t notice a major difference between your surfboard with the FoilMount system installed if you decide to use it without the foil.
Blue Planet Strongbox
The Blue Planet Strongbox is not as easy to for an everyday surfer to install as the FoilMoint, but it is a more permanent and secure option for converting a SUP or surfboard into a foil board.
The Strongbox is made from high-density foam, carbon fiber, and tuttle/center fin boxes. Install this box into your SUP or surfboard, and it will become compatible with most foils. Blue Planet SUP and foil boards come with the patent-pending Foil Strongbox installed.
An experienced surfboard or SUP shaper could also shape the Foil Strongbox into an existing surfboard or new, custom-made one. This is a safer, more durable, and more reliable way of creating a board that can be used for traditional surfing and foil surfing. The Strongbox also fits seamlessly into the deck of the board, causing less drag than the FoilMount option.
The best option, in our opinion, is to buy a board designed specifically for surf foiling. This allows your traditional surfboard to remain in optimal condition for surfing while drastically reducing the chance of breakage, accident, or injury.
Boards designed specifically for foiling feature more volume and a stiffer construction than traditional surfboards. This construction is designed to help the rider catch waves more easily and pump (gain speed) as efficiently as possible. Foil surfboards are typically much shorter than traditional surfboards.
Some foil surf companies are now manufacturing boards that are specifically designed to convert from a foil board to a traditional surfboard. Others are creating boards that allow superior paddle-in foiling to create a more surf-like foiling experience. The following are a few of our favorite surf foils on the market right now, including one that can be used for surfing and foil surfing.
F-One SLICE Bamboo Foil
The SLICE Bamboo Foil by F-One is a board specifically designed for all-in-one surfing. Simply remove your foil and place Future fins in the fin boxes, and you’re ready to surf. This board features a straight rocker, parallel outline, and can be purchased in several lengths to suit surfers of various skill levels and sizes.
The thickness and durability of the SLICE Bamboo Foil are designed for foil surfing, but the shape encourages superior pop, landing, and control. This board can handle plenty of speed, whether you’re surfing waves or flat water, traditionally or with a foil.
Fanatic Sky Surf Foil
The Sky Surf Foil by Fanatic succeeds in all areas of surfing, from wave catching and paddling ability to riding large and small waves. This board is not designed to be converted into a traditional surfboard, but it is shaped to provide the maximum amount of fun, even in the smallest waves.
Slingshot Sky Walker
The Slingshot Sky Walker is one of the most versatile and affordable foil boards on the market. It’s designed for superior paddle-in foil surfing as well as wing surfing. The flat deck and increased volume make this board especially easy to paddle and enjoyable in small to marginal waves. It also features enough length to easily convert to winging, which means you only need to purchase one board to enjoy two styles of foiling.
The Bottom Line
More and more gadgets and modifications will come to market as the sports of surfing and foil surfing continue to gain popularity. The future is looking toward more surfboards and foil boards that are specifically constructed to serve both purposes. However, right now the options are limited.
We suggest speaking with an experienced surfboard or SUP shaper regarding whether your current surfboard can handle the load and tension of a foil without breaking. If your board is not capable, purchasing a board like the F-One SLICE Bamboo Foil or a custom board with the Blue Planet Foil Strongbox installed are two safe and effective options.