Wake Foiling : Catching the Wake

Tips by David Ngiam
Video : Tan Suter
Photo : David Ngiam

The good thing about wake foiling is that you don’t need a big wake to be able to catch it. In fact you can surf the second or even the third wake from the boat, depending on the size of the wake.

Anyway, surfing the wake on a foil is similar to wake surfing and boat speed should be the same (about 16-20km/h depending on the boat wake). The distance from the boat you should be surfing from is also similar to wake surfing, but wakesurfing has a longer sweet spot, so you can probably ride a little further back as well.

The hard part about surfing without a rope on a wake foil is keeping your balance. Unlike wake surfing which is pretty much 2 dimensional (heelside and toeside edge), foiling is more about up & down as well, so there’s 4-axis you need to be aware. Plus having a higher center of gravity, makes it more difficult to keep your balance.

To catch the wake, pull in close to the wake, but you don’t have to ride it all the way up to the lip. If you ride up high on the foil, you should be able to feel line get loose. You don’t want to lift up the foil too fast because once the blades shoot out the water, the whole foil will sink back down into the water. So as a start, its good to hang on to the handle on your first few attempts because you can still ride away if your foil wings does overshoot the surface. The key is to ‘feel’ how high you can go without breaking the surface. A good indication that your foil wings are close to the surface is when you can feel ‘turbulence’ in the foil and doesn’t cut through the water as smoothly. If you feel that turbulence, you should be leveling out.

There’s abit of trial and error to find the sweet spot and boat speed, because every boat / wake is a little different. But once you feel the line is constantly loose, its time to ditch that handle and its all about maintaining your balance on the board. If you feel that you are loosing the push, try pumping forward, but dipping the nose of the board which would give you speed forward, but ‘pump’ it up before your board hits the surface of the water. For more details on how to pump, check out the wake foiling pumping tips.

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