Wake Foiling : Pumping

Tips by David Ngiam
Video : Bobby Mah
Photo : David Ngiam

Learning how to pump on a wake foil is probably one of the more essential moves you need to know if you want to wake foil without the handle. If you are really good at pumping, you can essentially ride through the water without any assistance from the rope or wake… as long as your legs don’t give out first.

Its probably a good idea to practice pumping with the rope in hand at first. This is to help you recover without falling off the board too much.

To pump, basically, your knees have to be a little loose. First, be ‘light’ on your front foot and suck up your front knee to let the foil lift up. Just before the foil wings break the surface of the water, lean your weight over your front foot to push the foil back down in the water and this will give you the speed and push to propel the foil forward. Just before the nose of the board hits the surface of the water, suck up your front knee again and repeat the process. The bigger the up-down movement of the foil, the more speed you can build up. This is why foils with taller masts allow you to pump more aggressivelty, but they are also harder to balance on if you are new to foiling.

The hard part of pumping is really to maintain your balance. You have to remember that the move is a backward to forward rocking motion, unlike wakesurfing which is an edge-to-edge turn. Try to keep your weight and axis centered over your board at all times and step down over your feet evenly across your feet and don’t put your weight unevenly over your toes or heels, which might make you tip and fall off the board like a taco.

The other challenge is to ensure that the foil doens’t ride up too high to the point where the wings breaks the surface of the water or too low that the board slaps the surface, either of which will kill the momentum. It is still possible to recover from it when that happens but it takes practice. As a start, practice with a rope until you can ‘feel’ how much you can lift up/down the foil.

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