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What Is A Hydrofoil Board & How Does It Work?

   August 31st, 2020   Posted In: Articles  

What Is A Hydrofoil Board & How Does It Work?

Those Funky Boards With A Long Metal Fin Are Changing Everything

The Design

When answering the question, “what is a hydrofoil board?” it’s best to breakdown the design itself. A hydrofoil board is basically a surfboard with a hydrofoil attached to the bottom. The hydrofoil refers to the long fin-like object that shoots a couple of feet off the bottom of the board.

At the end of the fin, you’ll notice what looks almost like a little model airplane attached. That is the basic design of a hydrofoil board. But they can come in all different sizes and shapes depending on where you are riding them.

Hydrofoils can be used in all types of capacities out on the water. They were originally used for ships and sailboats because they allow you to go much faster compared to a normal boat that floats directly on the water. The major draw of the hydrofoil design is that it allows you to cut through choppy water without feeling the full impact of the bumps like you would if you were floating on a boat. That means more speed.

Stretching the Possibilities

The popularity of hydrofoils has been growing since the day they were invented more than a century ago. Today hydrofoil boards are one of the newest, and hottest selling items in the water sports industry. The sport has grown so much that hydrofoils can be spotted on the beach all over the place. People use them for sailing, conventional surfing, and kiteboarding mainly. But companies like Lift E-Foil, which you can read about here, are taking hydrofoil boards a step further by attaching motors to them. That means you can ride them anywhere and don’t need wind or waves to push you along. More on that in a moment.

what is a hydrofoil boardHow Does a Hydrofoil Board Work?

The answer to this question is very complex. The truth is, there are several different scientific laws at play when it comes to what actually makes the board stand above the water without touching it. There are many different theories out there but the basic principle of how a hydrofoil board works is this: The Hydrofoil glides through the water at an upward angle which accelerates water downward. Due to Newton’s 3rd law (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) the reaction of the water shooting downward creates an upward force that lifts you out of the water.

As I said, that is the basic idea, but there is a lot more at play in terms of aerodynamics, kinetic energy, and inertia. This YouTube video walks you through all the principles.

Riding a Hydrofoil Board While Surfing

Now that I have explained what is an efoil and how they work you have probably figured out that you have to actually be moving to be able to stand up on a hydrofoil board. But the beauty of them is you do not need a lot of speed to get going. If you watch someone who is surfing with a hydrofoil board you will notice they are able to start riding the wave long before a person on a regular surfboard can catch the wave.

One reason for this is once you start moving and stand up on the wave you are able to pump the board up and down which will start creating your own speed. This pumping motion that you create by pushing into the board can help you get rides that are more than twice as long as what you can experience on a traditional surfboard.

Ideal For Kiteboarding

We all know how a kite works. They require wind. And we all know what happens when the wind hits the water. It gets choppy. The beauty of kiteboarding using a hydrofoil board is those huge choppy waves don’t really impact the smoothness of your ride. That means you can head out in the choppiest and windiest of conditions and still get nice fun, fast, smooth rides.

The Next Generation of Hydrofoil Boards

Over the last two years, hydrofoil boards have taken a leap that many people didn’t see coming. I certainly didn’t. All of the sudden ads started popping up on my Instagram showing these people shredding up and down rivers and lakes on hydrofoil boards with nothing pulling them. I was astonished at how amazing it looked and that technology to make this happen had made it to the mainstream.

Right now there are several companies making electric, rechargeable hydrofoil boards that you can use anywhere you want. They work off the same principle as a normal hydrofoil board, the only difference is you are using an electric motor attached to the hydrofoil to power you along.

Lift eFoil

The leader in the industry today is the company Lift eFoil which was one of the first to bring their revolutionary product to the mainstream. You can check out their line of amazing products here. You can also find resources for local lessons so you can start having the time of your life immediately.

Whether you’re going electric or traditional trying out a hydrofoil board can be a great way to interject some new excitement into a sport you have already been enjoying for years. With their unique design and their ability to take choppy water out of the equation, a hydrofoil board could become your go-to water sport depending on the wind conditions where you live. And the development of boards like the Lift e-Foil hydrofoil board proves that surfing can now be done pretty much anywhere and not just the beach.

Wes Severson is a fitness enthusiast and bodyboarder from San Francisco, CA who is always at Ocean Beach hitting the waves. He is also an Emmy Award-winning broadcast news writer and producer and a recording artist who goes by the name Wes Magic.

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