Introduction to Kite Foiling

Introduction to Kite Foiling

Foiling, foiling, foiling….. so, so, so Addictive:

When I bought my first kite foil setup back in 2016, I said to others I’m not sure where or when I will have the opportunity to use it. For some reason I had in my head that our coast line was only suitable for twin-tipping and the water depth wouldn’t suit kite foiling. 5 years on, I can confirm our coast line “Wirral and the North West UK” has some excellent spots covering  ~300 degrees of all wind directions and for the missing 60 there is now 3 other options 😉 (discussed later on).

It's worth knowing we already have >25 local people who are kite foiling!

The following details should only be used as a guideline, they are based on my foiling experience and what works for me, may or may not be true for all others reading this article. 

KITES (foil or LEI)

During my twin-tipping days I had already been down the path of looking to have fun in sub 12 knots which had me using 17m LEI kites that helped a bit, but it was impossible to relaunch these kites on lighter wind days. In 2014 I started flying foil kites (non-inflatable) on snow and with a twin-tip which saw me comfortably kiting in 10 knots with a 15m Ozone Chrono but I wanted more or should I say “less”, and this is when I turned to kite foiling. 

I originally started on a mixture of foil and LEI kites, but quickly found it difficult to relaunch my Ozone Edge kites (fantastic for twin-tip, but not recommended for foiling). By 2018, I became pumpless and converted to use only foil kites. I have tried 3 different brands of foil kites but much prefer the Ozone ones for reliability and durability. There are 3 models of ozone kites to consider: Hyperlink, Chrono and R1’s. All kites are just as easy to fly as each other but there are differences in ease of setup, wind range and performance. 

The following comments are only valid to Hyperlink V1 and Chrono V3 ultra-light models, all Hyperlink V2 or Chrono V4’s and all R1’s V3/V4. Don’t buy anything older as the above technology changed a lot. 

Photo: Derby Pool _Colin More_ Steve Follis

Ozone Foil Kites

Hyperlink is the easiest to relaunch off the water, having said that the 11m Chrono and R1’s are nearly just as easy, its only with the bigger 15 and 19m ones you need a little more experience as typically I’m flying these in winds ranging from as little as 5 knots. 

The Hyperlink has the least number of bridals yet the Chrono shares the same type of thick colour coded bridals, which makes them both easy to setup and pack away. The R1 bridals take some time getting use to as they are much thinner, but with practice and repacking at home before the next session I no longer have any issues with them either. None of the kite models listed above suffer from any form of severe bridal shrinkage that affects the flying characteristics (unlike other brands and older Ozone models). All foil kite bridles will shrink, but I can assure you even with a lot of use you will not have any issues with the ones listed here. 

The Hyperlink is such a fun kite to fly, especially the 5m, 7m and 9m sizes. The bar pressure is less than an LEI kite but much more than the Chrono and R1. The Hyperlink is very easy to down-loop without the need to worry about any wing tip deformation due to loss of internal pressure. With the Chrono and more so the R1’s your timing and bar control needs to be more precise to ensure the kite remains fully pressurised. If a wing tip does loose pressure, it is very easy to resolve the problem by pulling slightly on the back line on the side that needs to be corrected.

Unfortunately, Ozone stopped making the Chrono is sizes smaller than the 11m in 2019 and therefore, the choice for smaller kites is now only between the Hyperlink and R1 for 9m’s and 7m’s and for a 5m size there is only the Hyperlink which is so much fun in wind strengths of 24-34kts. 

When comparing an 11m Hyperlink and the Chrono model, both have a similar low end of ~9 knots. However, you can go much lower with the R1 as its design allows you to generate much more apparent wind “it’s kind of cheating” but just don’t stop moving and make sure your gybes are clean/no touching down otherwise it will end in a swim. The other big difference between the three models is that the upper wind strength of an 11m Hyperlink (with a freeride foil wing such as a 633 from SAB foil/Moses) is 13kts vs 15kts with the Chrono and 17kts with the R1. It’s worth noting that if you use a faster hydrofoil/wing such as the 670 and shorter 12m lines then the R1 is good up to 22 knots. I also find the 11m Hyperlink a little slow in turning and it does not go upwind as good as the Chrono and nowhere near as good as the R1. Having said that, if you’re not interested in top end speed or high sailing angles then the 11m Hyperlink is still a very good kite to use. I do not recommend the 13m Hyperlink as the differences described above become more apparent. 

Wind Range for Ozone Kites and Sabfoil 633/483 foil

I am not dismissing LEI’s completely and newer single strut models such as the Ozone Alpha V2 have closed the gap a little especially in winds around 12kts.

So, what happens if you can’t relaunch the foil kite off the water? Don’t worry, they don’t sink! As highlighted in the table above the problem would normally only occur near/below the minimum recommended wind range. If I drop a kite and its windy, I normally forget about the board and concentrate on the relaunch. However, if the wind is marginal or dropped too low when the kite goes in then I make sure I grab my board. I then sit on the board, which has a lot more volume than a twin-tip and wind my lines up around the bar. Once I get to the bridals, I put the elastic bar end on to prevent the lines from coming off the bar. I then wind the bridals around the bar until I get to one wing tip and place the bar in the kite and start to wrap the kite around the bar. The kite will then act as a sail and use it to swim in next to the board with the kite partially wrapped around the bar on top of the board. As the remainder of the kite loses internal pressure, I stop swimming for a short period and wrap more of the kite around the bar until the kite is completely wrapped up then hold the kite with bar inside on top of the board, continue to swim until I can stand. The key to a successful self-recue is to make an early decision to wrap up and not leave it until 10 mins later, by which time the kite would have taken onboard some water and becomes harder to self-rescue. One tip I can give is that in light winds I often use a shorter mast so that I can foil closer to shore, so that if I have a problem and need to self-rescue the swim is only a short one.


I’ve tried many different foil manufacturers and think the MOSES now called SAB Foil are the best on the market for the price. Similar to my choice of kites, I use SAB Foil because they are durable and easy to use. Although other makes will work, the learning period will be longer as the foils are not as forgiving. Also, SABFOIL only make carbon wings and masts which are a lot lighter than aluminium ones. 

At first, there seems to be a lot of numbers to remember when talking about foils, but basically the number is just the length/span in mm.

The best foil on the market for any newbie or intermediate kite foiler is the 633 front wing with 483 rear stabiliser. The good news is that although this foil is great to start off with and allows you to progress to a very good level, it never gets boring to use when you become more advance. I still use the 633/483 50% of the time especially when there is white water around as this foil setup handles those conditions amazingly easily. The 633 will foil from speeds as low as 8 knots all the way up to 26 knots. 


If you have zero foiling experience then I recommend a couple of sessions using a 41cm mast (Northern Kites has one they will lend out). The very short mast is a great way to get use to the basic foiling sensation without crashing from a great height. Next, I recommend the 71 mast to begin/progress with (now only the 72 is available which is a little stiffer and heavier but still ok). Never sell your 71/72 mast as it will always be useful in shallow waters/low tide states. Eventually you will need to progress to a 91/92 mast or even a 101. The longer masts allow you to go out in bigger waves and allow you to hold more power (keel over more). If you are certain that you only want to buy one foil over a 3 year period then another option is to buy the 82 mast. My preferred mast length is the 91 and if you’re up for some spectacular crashes then you could even go straight for this mast, but I’m sure one day you would want a smaller mast too for the shallow waters. Therefore, make it easy for yourself and start off with a 71/72 and progress to 91 or 101 or just go for the middle of the road and get an 82. For race foiling I use a 106 mast but that is quite special compared to regular freeride kite foiling.

The other recommendation I have for kite foilers, who have progressed to a level where they are jumping and want something a little different, is the 671/399 setup or 670/400. These two setups are virtually identical but the 670/400 version is registered for racing and uses a slightly different fuselage. It’s worth noting that neither of these setups will fit the same fuselage which the 633/483 uses. However, all fuselages fit all mast types. I now find the 670/400 is not only good for amateur racing but superb for fast freeride and have already recorded a 16.1m high jump (and landed it). My maximum speed is 34.8 knots. The stability of the foil is amazing, carving is very fast and agile yet super smooth. This is quite possibly the ultimate foil setup for non-competitive foiling.


When choosing your first board, don’t be tempted to buy something that appears to be cheap on eBay. The board needs to have rail tracks for the mast as the ideal position will differ for each rider (heavier riders will need the mast further forward). Also, having a mast-track allows you to use different wings on the same board as the position will differ depending on the lift characteristic of each foil design. Having a board with a good rocker is beneficial as it reduces the chance of the board submarining during starts and touch downs. The third feature I recommend is a board that has some volume, typically 15 L or more. An ideal length of board to start off with is 120-130cm. Although there are quite a few kite boards on the market, I would say the Groove Kiteboarding Skate 120 (M) is one board that meets all the above criteria and will be good for total beginners through to a competent kite foiler.


I definitely recommend using front V straps and even a rear strap from the start. Straps provide a good point of reference as to where your feet need to be. In addition, straps provide better control of the board (more forgiving if weight needs to be shifted) and assist with getting the board into the correct position when starting off in the water. I do not recommend using a single inline front foot strap as progression will be limited (very difficult to do a foot switch gybe or tack). Also, I find it much harder to release a board using an inline strap versus V straps (specifically V ones from Groove Kiteboarding type). In the event of a crash, the V straps from Groove do not trap your feet if you need to release the board quickly. 


Although I haven’t had any accidents kite foiling and deem it relatively safe, I strongly recommend wearing a 50N impact vest, helmet and shoes/boots to reduce the chance of getting hurt. Although helmets have become more popular for kitesurfing, I’m surprised not so many people are wearing 50N impact vests. Perhaps this is because when twin tipping you are generally in shallow water, however when foiling you can cover so much more distance and are often >500m off shore so I think it’s a must have. I also carry, flares, phone, knife, whistle and a light when foiling, again this is because when foiling its typical to venture further out. Although having the right safety gear is important, equally important is to let others know when/where you’re going out and, if possible, join up with 1 other or more kiters. 


All locations are tide and wind direction dependant, so make sure you pay attention to the forecast and tide tables. Try to meet up with others who know the spots if it’s your first time visiting them.

1. Derby Pool Lagoon (New Brighton)

2. Derby Pool Main Beach (New Brighton)

3 West Kirby River Dee Estuary

4. Ainsdale on Sea

5, Fleetwood


New stuff that I’m experimenting with include:

Wake foiling

Wing Foiling

Offshore Kite Foiling with a wing board 

To conclude, if you want to get more time on the water then kite foiling will provide this. The number of days I get on the water has increased form ~40 per year to 120 days or even more 😊. I recommend using Northern Kites as a central hub for further information who are also very good at getting the right gear for you, which will make learning to foil easier than trying on inferior equipment.