One of the most frequently asked questions we get here is “which foil should I buy, carbon or aluminum”? There isn’t a straightforward answer, it’s going to depend a bit on your personal sailing experience, budget, and more. I’ll get you to the right answer for you by the end of the article!
Many new hydrofoils, both aluminium foils and carbon foils, have been launched within the past few years. There are more options than ever when it comes to picking out a foil and a great place to start narrowing it down is the choice between aluminum and carbon.
The Difference Between Carbon and Aluminum
The simplified differences between the two hydrofoils are aluminium foils are cheaper but slower, heavier and demand more maintenance than carbon foils. Carbon foils are more expensive, lighter, stiffer, and more fragile.
How to Choose Between Carbon and Aluminum
One year ago, I would have answered the question by simply saying that it depends on your budget as generally speaking carbon foils are more expensive than aluminium foils. So if you have a limited budget, an aluminium foil would be the best solution, but if you can afford it, choose a carbon foil.
However, times have changed and there are several other factors to think about now, which may influence your choice.
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Aluminium is cheaper than carbon, that’s a fact. However, we are now seeing some hybrids, with aluminium masts and fuselage combined with carbon wings (for example: Starboard, Alpinefoil, Horue, Mantafoils…) which try to give the best of all worlds.
You could also consider buying a foil from smaller brands, which don’t have the same cost structure as the big brands. They often sell directly without the middle man, they don’t have huge overhead or marketing costs, and can therefore offer quality carbon foils at highly competitive prices (for example: Aeromod, Bug foils …). The price gap between aluminium foils and carbon foils is being reduced thanks to these competing brands with high value for money.
Last thing to consider when it comes to the price of the foils: Windfoils have been sold on the market since 2017, and the second-hand market is now growing. Check out Facebook groups, local shops, or other second-hand market places and you may find a good second-hand carbon foil near you at the price of a new aluminum foil.
How are you planning on riding your foil? You may have different needs depending on what your style is. (You can read this post to learn more about the 4 main windfoiling styles)
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For example, if you wish to foil quietly back and forth when the conditions are too light to windsurf, you don’t need to buy the latest race carbon foil to have a good time. A good aluminum foil will work perfectly.
Aluminum foils are generally speaking not as fast as carbon foils, but they are often easier to learn on and offer great stability thanks to their weight.
Where Are You Foiling?
Where are you going to foil? One of the biggest drawbacks of aluminium foils is that they corrode easily, especially in a salty water environment. You may prefer carbon versus aluminium if you mainly foil in the sea.
In the video below, you’ll get some good tips from Tony Logosz of Slingshot to maintain your aluminium foil:
Another aspect is the durability of the foil. Carbon is very stiff, but gets easily damaged by small impacts on the rocks.
Aluminum is more impact-resistant than carbon. It’s not unusual to hit the seafloor with the foil when returning to the beach, so if you’re riding somewhere with a rocky floor then an aluminum foil will be much safer.
It’s especially something to think about if you are a new foiler or plan to let others test out your foil.
To sum up, here are some of the main advantages and drawbacks of each type of foil:
More stable when learning
Easy to repair
|Cons||Less stiff (maybe important for heavier riders)|
Requires more maintenance
Can bend or break from too much twisting
Heavier to handle/transport
More fragile to impacts
For the reasons mentioned above, I suggest most foilers start with aluminum unless you’re really committed to racing or have a significant budget where money isn’t a factor.
Contact us if you have any questions, we’re happy to help you out of the foil jungle and give you some advice before choosing the right foil for you!