Filed Under (Water Sports) by Debbie on 25-07-2007

Are you or have you been a water sports fanatic?  Were you the guy/gal on the slalom ski doing 15 off or on a wakeboard doing a 360 toe grab?  Are you like me…the aging boomer desperately trying to hang on to the fun?


Years ago I could tell I had fun on the water by how many bruises I had at the end of the weekend.  I hate getting old…but I’ll tell you what…I’ve got the young studs and camera hounds hooting and hollering and snapping shots of me on the water!  Which is pretty darned good at 50+….


If you’re tired of curling your eyelids up, fatting your lip, catching the front edge of your wakeboard and doing a face plant, knocking the wind out of yourself and all the other dastardly things we do in the name of water sports fun…then listen up.


I’m going to tell you about ‘hydro-foiling’.


Coming out of the water

A hydrofoil (IMHO) is the greatest invention known to water sports!  I LOVE flying my foil.  I’ve actually quit all other forms of water sports.  There are a couple of different brands out there; I’ve ridden them all.  If you want to know more about them than I talk about here, email me at ‘Debbie at (@) pacificnorthwestboating dot (.)  com and I’ll be happy to fill you in with anything more I know.


At first sight a hydrofoil looks weird, intimidating and extremely dangerous.  They’ll take up a @#!* of room on your boat but there are options available to free up your space.  Basically what you’ve got is a seat on top of a short, fat ski with a hydrofoil stuck on the bottom/underside of the ski.  You may have seen flyers on the water or maybe seen this odd contraption on a tower rack.


They can be extremely frustrating to learn but are so worth the effort.  I (smug grin) got up and flew the very first time I tried.  My hubby on the other hand, took three days to get up!  Ladies, this is something we can do as well, if not better, than the guys!  Why?  Because guys want to ‘muscle’ things.  Their testosterone gets going and they want to pull and fight and make that foil work.


It’s all about balance…not strength.  I’ve flown with a beer in my hand!  Hey, I wasn’t driving…  The falls are really soft and gentle, at least until you get aggressive on jumping really high and then face plant.  So you don’t have to worry about hurting yourself, no fat lip, rolled up eyelids, etc.


If you have what we call a ‘cheater’ rope (a deep ‘V’ or yoke type rope) it will be helpful in the learning process as you can slip it over the tip of the ski.  Once you get the hang of it you can switch to your regular tow/ski rope.  Hopefully your regular is an anti stretch rope that floats…nothings worse than a 200+-pound guy plowing under the water, hanging on to the rope with the belief that he can…‘save it’….


Yes, my hubby was prone to ‘saving it’ and when the handle of the rope flew into the boat and smacked the windshield with enough force to really hurt someone (our then toddler) I told him…no stretch or no tow….


We have a no stretch rope.


Okay, you’ve bought or borrowed the hydrofoil, your orange ‘skier down’ flag is up, vest is on, gloves are on, maybe you’re smart and have a helmet…mine is blue…and the camera is ready to go…now what?


Try to find an out of the way area where there’s not a bunch of boat wakes or spectators.  Give the foil a good toss into the water being sure to get it away from the boat.  It’s not going to sink, unless of course, you’ve forgotten to tighten all the screws and bolts and things…naaah…I didn’t think you’d forget.


Okay, first victim jump in the water, take the ski rope with you.  Thread your arm through the handle of the rope, that way you’ll stay close to the boat while you get into the foil.


Pull the two Velcro style seatbelt straps apart or open the buckle/clamp (depends on brand) and open the space between the seat and the belts and swim your leg through, between belt and seat.


For myself, I go way forward of the seat and kind of squat on the ski.  Then you put your feet into the foot bindings.  My old foil had the type where you put the front part (toes and ball) of your foot over the heel strap and into the binding and then pull the heel strap out from underneath and up onto the back of your heel.


My new foil (isn’t my hubby great?) has ‘chinch straps’ they are Velcro style double straps that wrap around your feet and ankles.  ‘Cause I’m such a stud of a broad that I’m coming out of the regular straps when I try to do an invert (flip over backwards in the air).  See, I said ‘try’, I’m still not landing it but I’m getting about half way around…yes, on purpose!


Ok, you’ve got your feet in the foot bindings, now you want to find the best spot on the seat.  It’s very important that your tush doesn’t hang over the back of the seat.  You’ll want an inch or two of room between you and the back edge.  Then take the left seat belt strap and pull it as tightly as possible up and over your lap and press it down.  Then take the right strap and pull it…pretty snug over and onto the first strap.  I like a bit of play in my belt so I can adjust my tush around the seat but while learning it’s probably best to have it pretty snug.


Tracking through the water

Now, take a deep breath and relax.  It’s pretty stressful the first few times you do this…so relax.  As your towboat moves into position, try and feel the foil under you, is it still or swinging like a pendulum clock?  Wait until it’s still under you before you try this, it makes it easier.


Relax, I really mean relax; the position you’ll float in is the position you want for getting up.  Center the deep ‘V’ rope over the ski and for practice, have someone from the boat give the rope a quick pull by hand, don’t lean forward, you want to stay basically in your float position.  Don’t lean back either and be sure you keep the tip of the ski up and out of the water.  Remember, it’s not muscles…it’s balance, just hold your position while coming up.  In other words…freeze!


Your driver doesn’t need to gun it like for a slalom skier, think more like getting a child up on a wakeboard for pulling them out of the water.  My hubby flies at 22 MPH and he’s a big guy.    Watch in your rear view mirror the idea is to give enough power to bring the ski to a plane.


Don’t say hit it yet.  When you’re ready to go ‘freeze’ in the position you’re floating in while relaxed…don’t lean forward, don’t lean back and let the boat do the work.  Okay, as dumb as this sound: keep your eyes focused on the top of the tower…the horizon…any fixed point high up just don’t look down!  As a matter of fact, don’t look to the right or left either because where ever you look is where you’ll go.


Flying the Hydrofoil

Ok, the foil beneath you is still, the boat wakes are gone and the water is fairly smooth.  The driver has the slack out of the rope and the camera is ready.  Keep the tip of your ski out of the water, knees slightly bent, arms pretty straight, hands over knees, eyes on the top of the tower and go…once you are up on the ski (read out of the water) lean forward, extremely lean forward, like you’re reaching for the boat and keep your eyes on the top of the tower.  Let the ski go where ever it wants to, once you run out of rope it will pull back around, right now you just want to track some time on the ski.


If you find you shoot up out of the water really high (ok, it’s not really high, it just seems like it.) you’re not leaning forward enough once you clear the water.  If all you do is plow through the water, then you’re too far forward to start.  You want to be one with the foil, as in a straight line, so to speak when coming out of the water.  So try to think in terms of your back being an extension of the foil.  If you start to come up and fall off to one side or the other then you’ve got the slalom mind-set and are trying to muscle it.  Stop it.


Remember, it’s all about balance and not muscle.


Once you are able to track on the ski and feel more comfortable, sit up/back a bit (a very small bit) this will raise you up on the foil, you’ll be flying.  If you find yourself really high, lean forward.  This will bring you back to your starting position so you can track the ski.  It’s small adjustments.  Lean back you go up, lean forward you go down.


Flying is an amazing feeling.  You’ll cut through chop and wakes like a hot knife through butter.  It’s almost effortless…I can fly for about an hour, not that anyone is willing to tow me that long and I am always in trouble for going so long.  My hubby complains he can’t get me off my hydrofoil…I guess it’s a good return on his money?


Learning to Jump is a Blast

I’ve known of people 30 years older than myself flying these hydrofoils.  I love being on the water and I love water sports.  Last year, I had a totally kewl moment on the lake.  I’ve spent several years taking pictures of other people doing fantastic tricks on wakeboard, etc.


Imagine my surprise, I came out of a ‘finger’ on the lake and was jumping my foil back and forth over the wakes, having a grand time.  I spied a houseboat heading my way and thought I should stop jumping until I was past them, just in case I fell.


Houseboats are not real maneuverable.


I looked up to be sure I was past them only to find several adults on the top deck with cameras in hand, all taking pictures of ME jumping my hydrofoil.


Suddenly….I was one of the ‘bad boys of the lake’…not bad for an old bat!

Air Gainer pre-helmet

If you’re a flyer please feel free to leave comments for the future fliers.  If you’ve questions you can leave them here or email me… Debbie at (@) Pacificnorthwestboating dot (.) com and if you found this helpful, please help out by clicking below, thanks!


Thanks for visiting and happy flying!

3 Comments posted on "Feeling Too Old For Water Sports?"

[…] Are you or have you been a water sports fanatic? Were you the guy/gal on the slalom ski doing 15 off or on a wakeboard doing a 360 toe grab? Are you like me…the aging boomer desperately trying to hang on to the fun? … …more […]

[…] Are you or have you been a water sports fanatic? Were you the guy/gal on the slalom ski doing 15 off or on a wakeboard doing a 360 toe grab? Are you like me…the aging boomer desperately trying to hang on to the fun? … …more […]

How to take your dog cruising on your boat on May 12th, 2008 at 9:00 am #

[…] Those of us with a family dog know the difficulty we face while aboard a boat with our pets. No matter how you try there will come a time when the dog will need or want to do more than ‘lay quietly at our feet’. I know this to be true as I’ve more than once had to swim our Chihuahua, Buddy to shore. I do mean swim him to shore. More photos have been taken by friends of the dog standing on my head trying to stay out of the cold water than of me air born on the hydrofoil! […]