TOP 5 EFOIL RIDING MISTAKES
Just like any other new activity, you are going to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes when they try to ride or stand on the foil. Getting up on the efoil is way easier than any other hydrofoil board, but there are still many pitfalls. We will address the top five that we see with our students and how to correct these mistake.
Before we hit the first mistake, it is useful to understand some of the basic physics that affect your ability to ride this electric hydrofoil board. You should understand the following points:
- Water is a fluid, and will shape itself around solid objects, including your board. The key point here is that buoyancy and weight distribution will matter while you are on the board.
- The motor on an efoil is typically located 26 to 32 inches below the board, mounted to a rigid mast. The forward movement generated from this motor will always create an upward force on the nose of the board.
- The rail and tail sections of the board DO NOT control the direction of the board.
Now, let’s tackle the top five efoil riding mistakes.
#1: TOO SLOW
Many people are cautious when first riding an efoil because there are no handlebars, and the speed capability is upwards of 30 mph. The result is a very slow speed that barely moves the board through the water. A slow-moving board is extremely difficult to kneel on or to stand on, and the result is a fall into the water.
If you are a small rider, say less than 100 lbs, then this slow speed may not affect your ability to stand up. For everyone else, you need to ride the efoil with enough speed to allow the board to skim across the water. When there is enough speed to create a plane affect, then it is much easier to stand on the board. It is kind of like riding a bike. If you pedal very slowly, it is almost impossible to balance. If you gain just a little more speed, the balancing is much easier.
#2A: TOO FAR BACK - PRONE
Everyone starts by laying on the efoil board just like they would lay on a surfboard. When you are still in the water, it is easy to lay on the board and keep the board level. This all changes when you engage the motor. As soon as the motor starts to spin, the nose of the board wants to go upward. This is just physics. To counteract the nose from rising, you need to move your body forward on the board, just until the board is level on the water again.
Many new riders try to stop the board, and then move their body forward. This won’t work because it is the motor that is driving the nose upwards. You need to maintain the same motor speed while moving your body forward.
#2B: TOO FAR BACK – KNEELING AND STANDING
This is probably the MOST COMMON MISTAKE. As you kneel or stand up on the efoil, your stance is further to the rear of the board than it should be. This results in one of two mistakes. If you are also going to slow, the nose of the board is up, the tail is sunk under water, and the board drags itself through the water while you struggle to keep your balance. The other mistake is if you are going fast enough, the board will have a nose-up attitude and take flight, sending you into the air and usually resulting in a fall into the water.
The best advise we can give to you is to conduct a “pearl test”. We use this phrase with our surfers the most. Surfers are conditioned to apply tail pressure when popping up on their surfboard to avoid a pearl dive with their nose of their surfboard as they slide down the wave into their bottom turn. Simply put, a “pearl test” is applying as much of your weight forward on the board as possible while keeping the motor engaged. You will quickly realize that as long as the motor is fully engaged, it is very difficult to sink the nose of the board. With enough of your weight applied near the front of the board, you will be able to keep the board level.
A level efoil board is the ideal board position when riding. With a level board, you are not rising or falling in altitude. With a level board, the foil is properly engaged without stalling. With a level board, you have a better platform to balance upon.
#3: HIGH ON THE FOIL
Once you get the board onto foil, the thrill sets in and you want to foil more and more. Some riders make the mistake of thinking that by applying back foot pressure, they put the board onto the foil, and when they remove the back foot pressure, they put the board onto the water. The result is that you end up getting onto foil and you continue to rise in altitude until the motor and the foil breach out of the water. The board ends up descending rapidly into the water with the rider crashing down.
To correct this, you should understand that the back-foot pressure simply creates a nose-up attitude, and that front-foot pressure creates a nose-down attitude. To stay on foil, the process is to apply back-foot pressure to achieve a nose-up attitude until you get to a desired altitude over the water, then remove the back-foot pressure to level out the board. With a level board, you will maintain the foil position over the water. A level board is critical to successful foiling.
#4: BAD POSTURE
We have seen bad postures on surfboards, skateboards, snowboards, and of course on the efoil board. The most common posture mistake is being bent forward at the waist. This happens most often because as you are encouraged to keep flex in your knees, you bend at both the knees and the waist. The result of this bad posture is that you have a lot of pressure going through your toes, and your view of level is tilted. If you are continuously falling off your efoil to your toe side, you likely have a posture problem. If you have a hard time turning your efoil to one side, and that happens to be your back side, or heel side, then you may have a posture problem.
To correct this, simply relax. Once you are on your feet, before getting onto the foil, take a deep breath and focus on your posture. Your head should be upright and set directly over your stance. Your shoulders should be relaxed and stacked vertically over your feet. Your hips should be directly over the center of your feet, not towards your heels or towards your toes. There should be some flex in your knees, but not an exaggerated amount of flex. You should feel confident and comfortable in your stance before getting onto the foil.
#5: TURNING WITH THE TOES
Turning with the toes is a common mistake because with every other board sport like skateboards, surfboards, and snowboards, you turn the board with toe-side pressure or heel-side pressure to engage the rail of the board. The hydrofoil board is different in that the board is designed to be in the air. If you apply toe-side pressure, the rail will not cut into the air and turn the board. While a surfboard’s control points are in the rail and tail of the board, the hydrofoil board’s control points are all in the foil. When you apply toe-pressure on an efoil, you put your body out of alignment with the foil and the mast, which results in a crash that is a bit scary.
The correction is to learn to control the foil with your shoulders and hips. When you turn the efoil, you need to maintain the vertical alignment between your body and the board, specifically the mast of the board. If you draw a line between your shoulders and place your shoulders so that that line goes across the rails of the board, you can roll your shoulders right to turn right, and roll your shoulders left to turn left. Avoid applying additional pressure with your toes and heels other than what little pressure comes with rolling your shoulders. This technique provides consistently smooth turns, even while transitioning rapidly between each side.
By avoiding these common efoil riding mistakes, you will be able to master your efoil quicker and with fewer accidents. At Hawaii Efoil Experience, our intent is to get everyone on an efoil safely with as much fun as possible. Our techniques work for our students, and we hope that they work for you too. Fly High. Aloha.