Top Windsurf Foiling Tips You Haven’t Heard
Tiny sails, tiny boards, and light winds. Not a problem. Drop your wind minimums, drop a few sail sizes, and fly through your foiling jibes with these tips from Gorge superstars Emily Ridgway and Greg Glazier. Plus: A sneak peek at Slingshot’s Phantasm carbon foil. Find more on the windsurf foiling gear Emily and Greg are riding below.
Eddy Patricelli: Hey I’m here with windsurf foilers Emily Ridgway, and Greg Glazier – two people that, if you visited the Gorge this summer, my hunch is that you have seen them foil. Whether flying through beautiful jibes, carving 360s, swell rides – these two have been making foiling look really pretty, and really easy. And they’ve been doing it on gear that looks, well, frankly a little strange. I thought we’d just start with the elephant in the room: Greg, that is one big windsurfing foil mast. [
Greg Glazier: Yes it is, a 125 cm carbon prototype.
Eddy: OK, you two you both have big masts. Is yours the same, Emily?
Emily Ridgway: Well, yeah mine’s the same. It’s just a little bit bigger. [laughter]
Eddy: OK let’s start there. What is it with the big windsurf foil masts? What does that give you?
Greg: It gives you a chance to have more fun. Basically you can ride it in higher winds and not foil out. You can ride in the swell better in chop, and you have less catapults. But you do get really high sometimes.
Eddy: I bet. So the long mast is just about more rising span to minimize any chance of you foiling out.
Greg: Yeah, but just because it’s longer it doesn’t mean you have to ride four feet off the water. You can ride six inches off the water. You know you’ve got all that other leeway down there below.
Emily: You do ride higher but also you can crank into jibes harder and for maneuvers. You can bank over further without having to worry about the wing coming out, which is really nice. More aggressive 360s, jibes and that’s really nice just to have that security going in.
Eddy Absolutely. So the other piece of gear that looks a little strange these windsurf foil boards. They are so short.
Greg: Five feet and under.
Eddy: So why so short? What’s the advantage of such a short shape?
Greg: It’s all about less swing weight. It’s a smaller compact unit. I mean because basically once you’re up you’re riding the foil. That’s what you concentrate on. It doesn’t matter if you’re on just some small block of wood. The short shape just makes it more turn-y and flow-y. There’s just a lot less to push around. You feel the foil a lot more.
Eddy: So i have a feeling people watching this that aren’t here in the Gorge may look at your little boards and say they’re great out there where there’s real wind. But when it’s really light winds you two are still using these little boards. Can you uphaul them?
Emily: Yeah we use these boards in anything above eight knots. I ride even a smaller litter board (88 liters) and I’ve had a 6.3 sail on that and had it going in eight knots. So you know they’re perfectly shlog-able, and perfectly uphaul-able, though there is a different technique for uphauling which I definitely recommend people practice. And that is you have to have both feet behind the mast.
Eddy: OK, but Emily in my experience when you do that you pull the sail up and the board just rounds dead into the wind. I mean do you have to be quick?
Emily: Yeah the board definitely has a tendency to round up into the wind. So when you’re uphauling you have to be fast. You have to wait for that right moment, pull the sail up out of the water and grab it. And then it’s essentially the same as coming out of a tack. So you tilt the sail forward to capture the wind in the sail and drive the nose around.
Greg: So yeah uphauling is the new water starting.
Eddy: Uphauling is a new water starting on a short board. I like it.
Emily: Sometimes the sails that we ride are so small that sometimes we have to uphaul because there just isn’t enough power to water start.
Eddy: Well and that’s the thing I’ve been the most surprised when I’ve seen you foiling is that often you’re riding sails two meters smaller than even other windsurf foilers. Does that have to do with how you’re tuning your sails? Are there any tuning techniques that help enable the small sails?
Emily: Yeah, so we definitely tune the sails to not have as much downhaul and not as much outhaul. So they’re rigged quite powerful. Very full, very loose and a little bit baggy. But the other part, the really important part of that equation is the wing size that we have. So small sails go hand in hand with a bigger foil wing. If you had a racing wing with a smaller surface area you need a bigger sail to compensate for that. So people can really choose what kind of foiling that they like, and choose whether they like the small sail, big wing combination or the big sail small wing combination. And that’s sort of the trade-off that that we’re making. You know Greg and I are big fans of the big wing and tiny sails.
Eddy: But now “big” is kind of relative – especially when we got this mast on the board over here – but the wing you’re using, this is Slingshot’s Phantasm. This is a carbon foil that everyone’s waiting on at the moment. But you two have the prototypes. So how big is that front wing that you’re referring to or using? Greg: It’s a 730 from wing tip to wing tip.
Eddy: And in square centimeters that’s similar to …
Greg: It’s just a slightly scaled down 76 Infinity. But refined.
Eddy: That’s your big wing?
Emily: Yep that’s our big wing.
Eddy: So from small sails, big wings – which I think some out there are shaking their heads because bigger wings exist …
Emily: OK medium size. It’s just not a like a racing wing.
Eddy: But to me that may speak to you two employing techniques on the water that are really enabling you to get away with the small sails and the small boards and the relatively big wings. So let’s start with just getting up onto the foil. What are some tricks you guys utilize to do that when you’re using such small tiny sails and boards?
Emily: Well, So I think i do it slightly differently from Greg. We both have different techniques. But I fill the sail up with power by uh extending my front hand and pulling my back hand so it’s almost like I’m going into a very gentle forward loop. I’m bearing downwind while I do it, and then with my back foot about here I’m pumping. I’ll actually lift my whole back foot off the board and pump it down and press down like that on the back of the board. My front foot is in the front foot strap and it it kind of drives the force through the front of the nose of the board and I’ll bounce the board like that while I’m doing short pumps with the sail. But I don’t know. Do you have a different technique, Greg?
Greg: So I think the most important thing to do is get board speed up. Bearing off the wind. Small pumps of the sail.
Eddy: Small pumps, not big pumps?
Greg: Yeah well especially on these smaller, longer boards with more nose you can do big pumps because it’ll bounce off. But with these you’ll just stick the nose.
Eddy: I was really impressed out at Rufus sailing behind you. Again, super light winds and I was surprised by how once you were up it just seemed like you had no problem staying up. Are you linking gusts just like you’re doing when windsurfing linking swells? What are some tricks that allow you to continue to stay aloft when you’re not really dealing with much sail power?
Greg: You need to make sure you’re being as efficient as you can, but you’re also creating apparent wind when you’re going at low wind speeds. So you use the power of the swell. So you’re using power that the foil can harness as well as you can, and the sail and the wind. You’re just constantly reading and watching the water to make sure that when you do jibe you make sure you have speed. You do it in a puff so you can get around and then just constantly looking upwind to make sure that you’re trying to be in as much wind as you can all the time. And that dictates everything.
Emily: Sometimes if I see a lull coming I’ll actually start riding higher on my foil knowing that I have a longer distance to travel before I gradually sort of increase my lift to get picked up by that next gust. And that’s another advantage of a longer mask too.
Eddy: Yes, and that’s why your mast is longer than Greg’s.
Emily: Slightly longer.
Eddy: You guys did mention jibing in there and I think for a lot of foilers you know staying aloft through the jibe is is kind of the challenge. What are some tricks that you guys found when learning to jibe that really helped?
Emily: You know it definitely helps to be on the right gear and for me personally about a year ago I changed the Infinity 76. Then I started getting jibes in pretty short order after that – you know, maybe like a month of practice or so. Because the Infinity 76 has a larger surface area than say race wings you don’t need as much speed to go into the jibe and I think when you’re first trying foiling jibes it can be a little bit intimidating because you’re up high in the air and suddenly you’ve got to start banking in. So it makes sense that you’d be a little bit slower a little bit more hesitant and something like the Infinity 76 will be there for you to carry you through those low speeds. You won’t necessarily fall into the water at that point and then the other thing that’s super important is just constant inside rail pressure. It needs to be very constant. Like you can’t sort of tilt around on your back foot like you would with maybe traditional windsurfing. On the foils you just have to apply even pressure all the way around through the jibe even while you’re flipping the sail regardless of what’s happening. That constant rail pressure is critical. If you don’t do that you’ll find yourself turning in the other direction halfway through a jibe and we see a lot of people sort of doing that.
Greg: I think with people that come from windsurfing they tend to lean into their jibes and lean back. Wo when you’re doing that on the foil you foil out through your jibe. So I think we keep our weight forward into a jibe. So we kind of follow the wing and the board in and we lean forward to keep your trim because otherwise if you lean back you’re gonna foil out.
Eddy: What are two thinking about in terms of where you’re placing your sail to start the carve and throughout it? Is there anything you’re conscious of with the sail when jibing?
Emily: It’s really important to understand that the sail has a lot of weight and if you move that sail around – like if you yank it towards you or keep the sail really close – you’re going to be putting the center of gravity of that sail over your feet. That sudden shift in weight might cause the board to foil up and out of the water halfway through a jibe. So one of the things I did think when I got my very first foiling jibe was actually to just go into the jibe and just completely de-power the sail, and just hold the front of the boom, and just let it let it flap downwind while I just concentrated on carving the board. Then before I knew it I was around the other side and I was like oh oh I’m still foiling! I grabbed it and yahoo! [
Eddy: To both of you thank you so much. It ha’s been really fun to watch you guys this summer. I hope to see you guys on the water and thanks for joining us today!