Hydrofoils have advanced rapidly in their design over the past few years, achieving new levels of strength, durability, and lightweight performance. One part of the foil that has been pretty rapidly changing is the connector plate/mounting method used to connect it to the board.
A foil generates a tremendous amount of leverage, especially when the rider is pumping or wave riding, exerting massive amounts of force. In the early days of foiling, boards that weren’t strong enough would get wrecked by the force of the foil.
Fast forward to today, and the two most common methods of attaching a foil to a board are currently the deep Tuttle box and the two-track/twin-track plate mount.
I’ll give you the run down on each of these mounting types, and why the plate mount system is the superior standard that I see all manufacturers moving towards in the future.
Deep Tuttle Box
The Tuttle box was initially designed as a robust and straightforward method of attaching a medium/long fin to a windsurfing board using two bolts. The box was fibreglassed into position during the manufacturing process and it enabled different fins to be attached and removed easily.
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The deep Tuttle fin box is a deeper, reinforced version of the original box and has long been the standard for the faster, more demanding variations of windsurfing using the longest fins. Freeride, Formula Racing, and Slalom riders require a fin box that can sustain significant force at high speed, and the original Tuttle box became compromised too quickly.
The deep tuttle box was adopted by foil riders very early on, mainly because of availability rather than optimal function. It was the most suitable mount available at the time. It’s easy to attach a foil directly to an existing windsurfing board or, in some cases, retrofit a deep Tuttle box to another craft.
Two Track / Twin Track / Plate Mount
This mounting system goes by many different names! Two-track, twin-track, plate mount, and pedestal are all varieties I have seen used.
Instead of the foil connector being inserted into the board like the deep tuttle, the twin-track system essentially uses 4 screws to connect the foil to the board along two adjustable slots as seen below.
The two-track system lets you adjust the location of the foil in relation to the board, forward and backwards, which affects the ride and balance of the board.
Early versions of the plate mount system were not built strong enough and tended to break easily, usually due to the boards themselves not being reinforced enough to handle the torque of the foil.
However, companies have invested vast amounts of time and money into the design for the plate mount boards and those concerns are a thing of the past.
Which Is Better, Deep Tuttle or Plate Mount?
Now that board manufacturers have built strong enough boxes to handle the leverage of foil, pedestal/plate mount is the better system, hands down. The only real knock against plate mount has been the possibility of it damaging your board.
Plate mount lets you adjust the position of your foil forwards or backwards in relation to the board which means you can choose a position that feels best for you. Many people find placing the foil all the way torwards the rear of the board makes learning to foil easier and then slowly test other positions more towards the center of the tracks as you get more experience.
Others claim placing the foil all the way forwards towards the nose is optimal for riding. There’s no “best position”, you get to choose and make adjustments to pick whatever performs best – something you can’t do with a tuttle box.
Many foils sold today have interchangeable connector plates so you can switch between deep tuttle and pedestal mount depending on the board, so it’s not always an “either or” choice when it comes to the foil. The board that you have is more so the limiting factor as to which you can use.
Deep Tuttle Adaptors
So I’ve given you my pitch on why the plate mount system is superior to deep tuttle, but if you have a foil with only a deep tuttle connector that probably isn’t what you want to hear! Luckily, many companies make adaptors that can let you turn a tuttle connector into a twin track mount. Note that this will add a few cm to the height of your foil’s mast.
As the sport of foiling progresses, we will undoubtedly see the twin track system become more and more the industry standard.
Manufacturers are looking forward to improving the twin-track systems’ design and durability rather than investing in the limited deep Tuttle boxes.
Deep Tuttle systems for foiling have been an integral part of the sport’s birth and early development, but as foiling moves forward, they will slowly be side-lined for more progressive alternatives.
The prevalence of used equipment with deep Tuttle set-ups, along with the availability of adaptors, will mean that the transition will not happen overnight. Even in 2021 we still see manufacturers selling boards with only a deep tuttle mount, but more and more are adding twin-track mounts and we expect that to become the standard in the next few years.