Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Hydrofoil comes to Paddleboard

Published on July 13, 2016 by   ·   No Comments

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Stand Up Paddle superstar Kai Lenny made a bit of a splash last month in Hawaii gliding above the swell on a hydrofoiling paddleboard.  The board in question was the Naish Malolo fitted with a patented GoFoil SUP hydrofoil.  The video of Lenny riding the hydrofoiling SUP went viral and now it seems like all the cool kids want one

“The first time I stepped on the hydrofoil and did a downwinder,” says Lenny, “I instantly saw a glimpse of the future.  This is the future!”

Although Lenny is only 23, he has been at the top of his game for years and was crowned SUP Race World Champion, Sup Wave World Champion and SUP Overall World Champion while he was still in his teens.

The hydrofoil is not a new invention but you may be surprised to hear that it’s been around for over 100 years.  Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini built the very first hydrofoil boat in 1906.  It was powered by a 60hp engine and reached a breathtaking top speed of 42.5mph.  Since then hydrofoils have been attached to basically everything that floats; powerboats, sailing boats, waterskis, waveboards, kitesurfing boards and now, finally, stand up paddleboards.




The creator of the SUP hydrofoil is Hawaiian board designer and professional kitesurfer Alex Aguera who, along with his partner Mike Giblin, produces boards and hydrofoils under the name GoFoil.  He has been designing (or as those in the know say, shaping) boards since 1989 so he knows his stuff.  The hydrofoils are a more recent addition.  Alex has designed plenty for his kitesurfing boards but the Malolo is the first time that the hydrofoil/SUP combo has been tried and by jingo it works a trea

Mike Giblin says, “Designing and building the GoFoil for SUP has been an act of faith.  Years in the making and countless hours of tinkering, designing and testing.  Most people, even the experts had dismissed it as impossible.”

The hydrofoil acts like an underwater aeroplane and can be raised or lowered by adjusting the angle of the nose of the foil, similar to flying a plane.  The idea is that while you ‘float’ above the waves, the foil is being swept along by the underlying swell and as the board is above the water you’re not slowed down by friction.  That lack of friction means the hydrofoil can ‘fly’ through the water much faster than a traditional paddleboard


Aguera says, “I have spent most of my life on the water or in the shop trying to win a tenth of a knot.    As foil technology improved, all the old ideas about what it meant to go fast on the water changed, radically.”

GoFoil has just announced a partnership with another of the biggest board manufacturers, Starboard, and Aguera is currently designing a range of hydrofoil stand up paddleboards for them

All three SUP hydrofoils will be available commercially later this year, but they won’t come cheap.  The Naish Malolo board with hydrofoil will set you back a cool 3,200 GBP, or the hydrofoil alone bought from GoFoil is $1,749 US.

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