Have you Tried Sup Foiling Yet?
Here’s a “My First Foiling Attempt” account from our friend Erik Logan, president of the Oprah Network in Southern Cal. Erik is one very stoked sup paddler, who, with his buddy Dave Kalama’s guidance, has just discovered that foiling on a sup is like:
It is tremendously exciting to learn something brand new. And it’s also very intimidating, kinda scary, and at several moments with sup foiling you’re not quite sure what the process is or what’s supposed to happen next.
This is my first day ever on the foil and yes that is Dave Kalama driving the boat and laughing as a tsunami of feelings engulf me.
What can I say, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with everything when you’re trying something new…and (watch the FIRST part of the video to learn what NOT to do, haha) you DO get used to how different it is from actual sup surfing.
Sup foiling has taken off in such an amazing way all over Instagram, the Internet; everywhere you look it feels like everybody’s doing it and just as many of us want to try it! But here is something that I can absolutely tell you: it has a very challenging, steep learning curve and can be equally as dangerous.
“Which is why I am beyond blessed to have one of my great friends and one of the world’s greatest waterman, Dave Kalama, hold my hand and help me get into learning about the foil and how to begin experiencing this new way to be on the water.”
Erik on the importance of getting tips from a foil pro Because I’m fascinated with the learning process of this, I thought I would share with you my feelings and thoughts about how I learned
First, it’s not surfing–nowhere near it, so don’t even think that you’re surfing. It’s a whole new skill. You almost need to treat walking into this as it’s your first time ever on a board, starting with the most simplistic things such as how do I stand up? Where do I put my feet?
So, here is my day-to-day learning curve that I hope helps you:
One of the hardest things to do before you do something new is to TRY to patiently sit on your hands during the briefing before you get on the water. I’ve experienced this myself with people staring at the water: I’m trying to tell them what they need to do to be safe, and they’re in such a hurry to get out on the water.
But in this case it’s enormously critical to listen and learn before entering the water!
I couldn’t understand why Dave so strongly and continuously emphasized how to bail off the foil. It seems so counter intuitive to have the first thing you’re focusing on be how to kick the foil away…but knowing how to bail is absolutely critical.
The first thing you want to learn is what it feels like when the foil is getting away from you. In that instance, get out! Kick the foil out of the way. I remember after I had gotten up for the first time. I felt it get away from me and knowing that’s the time to jump out and not try to save it, was the first big lesson.
But so often many of your old surf habits kick in. THIS is when you must remind yourself (again and again), this is NOT surfing. If you insist on doing the moves you normally would do on a surfboard, there’s no question you’re absolutely going to fail.
The sooner you can let go of that pre-wiring of “surfing,” the easier for you to feel the progress on your foil.
“It seems so counter intuitive to have the first thing you’re focusing on be how to kick the foil away…but knowing how to bail is absolutely critical” -Logan on how Dave Kalama’s first lesson on land was proper foil wipeout and escape technique Feet placement
Probably the first big moment for me was knowing where to put my feet, and the profound impact that has.
On the board I was being trained on, there was a front footstrap (I’m regular foot) and a kick pad where my right foot should be. During some of the early attempts at getting up behind the boat, Dave quickly noticed that my front foot was not all the way into the strap, and my back foot was not in the proper space (again, I wasn’t listening to the advice I’m giving you: do NOT even think about this as surfing). By not having your feet in the proper place you get a falsification of how the foil is going to react as you learn how to fly it. So, to me, step one without question is foot placement.
Feeling the foil
After I had my feet set, it was time to actually feel what this thing was underneath my board. The moment that the water starts moving over the foil, it starts to lift and react. And elevate! That’s the moment you realize you are now doing something completely foreign and brand new. As Connor Baxter has so appropriately explained: “foiling is like being a flying fish”…
“It seems so counter intuitive to have the first thing you’re focusing on be how to kick the foil away…but knowing how to bail is absolutely critical”
-Logan on how Dave Kalama’s first lesson on land was proper foil wipeout and escape technique Feet placement
The next several minutes was just repeating that process standing up, setting my feet in the proper place, and feeling the foil do its thing…then beginning to focus on my front foot.
Like Riding One-Wheel
I was telling Dave that foiling feels like being in the “Neutral” position, as I’d call it (because it feels like I was riding on/balancing on one-wheel). You are maintaining that great neutral, unicycle-type balance, and I was using the one-wheel feeling as something to get me back to neutral.
Moving away from the wake
Once I was comfortably in a place where I could get up and gauge the foil and stay on it for a few seconds, it was time to try and angle the foil away from Dave’s motorboat wake and move into clean water.
Finally, for the first time, I got the hang of riding the actual foil as it reacted under water…it was almost like I was hovering over liquid glass!
“As Connor Baxter has so appropriately explained: ‘foiling is like being a flying fish'”…
One of the other tricky things for me was being pulled by a boat or a jetski. This is how Kalama teaches, so who am I to argue? But having never really done that either, it took me a minute to figure out “Should I hold onto the rope with both hands or one hand?” For me, if I was to the left side of the boat I was holding the rope on my right hand…that felt the most comfortable to me, so that I could maintain balance and use my left arm to counterbalance myself off to the side.
After many failed attempts I felt my confidence building to get up, get my feet set, move out and away from the boat wake and begin the next step of trying to learn to “fly” the foil.
Up and down
Now it was time to figure out how to elevate and lift out of the water and put the foil back down.
When we took a break it was amazing talking to Dave. I was describing the flying feeling that I got from foiling. One of the wildest things about the foil is that you can be 6 inches off the water and it feels like 6 feet.
“Finally, for the first time, I got the hang of riding the actual foil as it reacted under water…it was almost like I was hovering over liquid glass!”
I worked and worked (and as you can see in the video, I fell and fell) and then for the first time I got the foil really out of the water…significantly out!
That is when you absolutely realize you can FLY! Just amazing.
What was interesting about day two was how clearly I learned the importance of building a foundation. But almost immediately you find the temptation of wanting to skip steps. I’m trying to do things that you shouldn’t. And the frustration kicks in because you feel like you’re falling behind. So, THE most important thing is to not skip steps.
Once you can see your progression of standing up with your feet in the proper place, in the straps, then you begin flying the foil. The most important thing is to actually relax, take a breath and stand up more vertically.
Relax and stay vertical or STAND UP!
I found the temptation of trying to actually do more things when I felt the foil more engaged. But the more I just relaxed and focused on flying the foil (and not worrying too much about anything else) it worked out so much better! Take a breath. Really fly the foil and BREATHE.
To the water…lots happening…”this is not surfing”
As Dave said once we got into the surf, the flatwater practicing is over and now “we are using live rounds.” That is an understatement.
All my surfing and paddling brains took over. It was like two days of training was thrown out of the window. I was trying to angle onto waves, etc. I needed a good wipeout to remind me that this is NOT surfing. Also, from my lesson from Day 2: DON’T SKIP STEPS!
When you get to the waves, DON’T surf. Instead you want to: Catch, elevate, stand up and ride (remember Connor’s “flying fish” analogy?).
The part that was the big awakening for me was that there is a timing difference from a normal drop. With foiling, you have a moment to catch, set and get your feet in the straps. DON’T RUSH THIS PART! Focus on this new timing. Catch a set wave and fly. Don’t get cute. Just fly.
Don’t try to save the foil. Like I learned on the first day: when the foil is going down, let it go. Don’t try to save it. It’s only an invitation for trouble. And trouble will find you, especially when you are in the surf.
This was the first day I think I can say that I was putting it all together. There is still a lot of shit going on, but there were moments where I felt things were slowing down a bit.
You really can feel the front foot importance in the surf, in a way you really can’t behind the boat.
One of the big lessons for me today was that I can handle a bigger wave, but you have to really lean on your front foot. The foil will gradually come up as the wave builds, so really lean on the front foot. You can take as big as a wave as you want, just get that foot down.
Then slowly release the pressure off the foot, get centered, and elevate a small amount to fly.
“One of the wildest things about the foil is that you can be 6 inches off the water and it feels like 6 feet”
When you get 4-5 waves, your feeling pretty good. And right then you get lax and boom!: right over the handlebars. Elevate too fast and then whack.
Remember the classic Han Solo line from Star Wars: “way to go kid, now don’t get cocky!” This is my paddle thought for day 4 and every day going forward.
By now you’re catching a few dribblers, your board will be 6 inches above the water surface and people will be telling you “great job!” You’re ripping. That’s exactly the time you need to cue Han Solo. That’s when you overfoil and have a seismic wipeout.
When you’re in the surf you can’t go brain dead. You’re on a foil. Not a surfboard. It’s really hard to see the wave and not revert back to my surf brain. You have to let that go. I accidentally made a few turns. What clicked was how different it is from surfing. Kinda feels like a twist. You actually feel the foil turn in the water.
I had one great ride and called it a day.
I’m still processing the past four days, but now I’m just counting the days until I get my board!
Without a doubt message or call Dave Kalama. Head to Maui, have him get you on a training program and you’ll be flying in NO time!!!