Winging with Foil Drive Assist

After spotting MokesMax talking on the Sea Breeze Forum about his Foil Drive™, we reached out wanting to share his advice for Winging and how the Foil Drive Assist™ is helping him develop his skills! Matt Callahan has been foiling for about a year and a half and is located in Hawaii...

I’ve been using the original Foil Drive Assist since about May, and eventually got a second battery for it which has been nice in certain situations. Today I was out winging and wanted to note how I have been using it...

I’m an OK Foiler in general - nothing fancy but can control flight easily and starting to learn to pump. I’m a very novice winger though, and at this point can fly goofy and regular footed consistently but can’t make gybes yet.

While I have been learning to wing I have been using the Foil Drive Assist as my safety net. That’s the reason I bought it - to keep me from being blown across the Pacific when I’m learning with an off shore breeze and am doing it by myself.

Armstrong FG 5'11 115L Board - 85cm Mast and 60cm Fuse - HS 1850 HA 1325

HA 1125 Wings with either the HA 195 or HS 232 Tail depending on the day.

Straps are Voile Straps (Available on Amazon and at most local Bike, Camping and Hardware Stores). They are attached with a foot strap stick on mount on one side and the other side the screw for my kick pad goes through the strap.

I have a bay where I am learning that takes about 10-15 minutes to paddle across on my SUP, and uses about 17% battery of the Foil Drive to motor across at 30% throttle. So what I do is, mow the grass until I’m down wind too much or get tired, then lay on the board with my feet over the leading edge of the upside down wing, and just lie there with the cruise control on. 10-15 minutes of laying there and I’m back across the bay upwind. Today I did the same thing but sat up on the board and held the leading edge handle on the wing with it behind me (still upside down). This means that in a wing session I can do 4-5 upwind motor trips on one battery. Note that you don’t want to put the throttle too high as the drain is exponential. Check the chart foil drive provides. 30 percent throttle is a good number! 50 percent throttle is not a good number.

That method has sustained me through many sessions where I failed at getting up on foil on my bad side, and sometimes even on my good side if the wind wasn’t strong enough for my foil setup. Recently I’ve learned to fly on my bad side so today I could fly both directions but still couldn’t stay upwind completely the whole time. So in a 3 hour session I burned 50% of one battery with a few trips upwind. Best day yet!

When there is plenty of wind I tuck the remote control into my long sleeve shirt cuff since I don’t need it to get flying. The cool thing though is if the wind is a little lighter than I need I can hold the remote in my hand along with the wing handle and get the board speed up to get flying. If the wind is real low I can actually get flying using full throttle kind of like Efoiling while holding the wing. Then once up you sheet the wing to catch the wind and release the trigger on the remote. You will need to shift your weight and front foot forward to control the board when using throttle, but with some practice it is doable.

Image Left: Controller tucked away when it's only needed as a backup.

Image Right: Using the wrist floatie and silicon tie allows Matt to drop the controller when up and foiling.

To learn to foil on my bad side (goofy footed for me), I would use the full throttle to get going every time while barely catching wind in the wing. This allowed me to practice the balance and loosening up my arms and legs.

With the high aspect foils the throttle helps get the board to speed which would otherwise be more difficult than with a mid aspect. This is nice to provide a fun session while learning without just being in the water without enough wind for my skill and wind combo.

Overall I would say the Foil Drive is a requirement for me to do this sport for now. If you have more consistent wind than I do then it’s just needed for safety and avoiding the walk of shame. If you ever have the wind die on you and can’t prone paddle in, here’s a good backup.

One thing to note: Laying on your board motoring upwind will elicit some interesting responses. Other wingers will be asking “how the heck did you get upwind?” And the lifeguards may come over to you in the water to check if you need a rescue. Let us know in the comments what you think and any tips you might have for winging with your Foil Drive!

1 comment

  • Frank

    I took my foil drive off in order to learn wing foil because I assumed it would be in the way. After reading your article I’m going to put it back on and give it a go to avoid the lengthy walk of shame. Thanks.

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