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How safe is kite foiling?
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markamcclure

Since 20 May 2011
126 Posts
Portland, OR
Stoked



PostTue Sep 07, 21 8:27 am    How safe is kite foiling? Reply with quote

I am just getting started, but I am wondering is those sharp edges will eventually lead to an injury. Has anyone kitefoiled for a while and not been slashed by the foil? How do you keep yourself from getting slashed? YouTube videos seem to suggest falling downwind from the foil and using some lift from the kite to distance yourself. Also they say to put the kite higher and bring the board down to the water when going too fast. Does anyone do this? Suggestions?

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Nak

Since 19 May 2005
4016 Posts
Camas
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PostTue Sep 07, 21 12:26 pm     Reply with quote

I have never been slashed, but I did tear my rotator cuff getting out of control fast on an advanced foil as a newbie. Learning on a low aspect wing will help prevent that.

To prevent foil bites:

1. When you are in the water approaching the board, pretend you are paralyzed from the waist down. Do not use your legs! If you do, you will eventually kick the foil. Not good. Credit to Joe-The-Kiter for this tip. I'm sure his advice is why I never have gotten a foil bite.

2. Do not hang on to the last moment trying to save a bad situation. Crash while you are still in control so that you can put distance between yourself and the foil. Push the board away from you as you fall. Remember to get some altitude if you're going over the side and the wing is coming up; you don't want to drag your body across the foil.

3. Many foils have unnecessarily sharp edges--I'm looking at you Moses. Some of my stuff was literally sharp enough to shave with. The sharp trailing edges have no value other than to cut you. Take 400 grit sandpaper and a rigid sanding block and put a nice square edge on your trailing edges. If they aren't square--like you'll get without a rigid sanding block---the setup will have a loud whistle when you're riding. So get the edge square, about 1 - 1.5 mm thick. Then take some 600 grit and VERY lightly just take the sharp edge off of the top and bottom of your square edge. Don't round your nice square edge, just dull the sharp part a tiny bit. Take your time, don't rush this. The foil will be just as fast and quiet as it was with the razor edges if you do this right.

4. Always wear a helmet. I never did prior to foiling, but I wouldn't foil without one. I've been hit in the helmet with the board too many times to try it without. Also, at least when you're learning, wear a wetsuit and some type of bootie or water shoe. That will give you some protection from cuts.

Last edited by Nak on Tue Sep 07, 21 12:29 pm; edited 1 time in total

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wood

Since 21 Jan 2013
58 Posts

 



PostTue Sep 07, 21 12:28 pm     Reply with quote

The foil will have a mind of it’s own. Where protective clothing and don’t look back on your wipe outs. Good luck it is fun

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user124

Since 02 Aug 2012
376 Posts
Portland
Obsessed



PostTue Sep 07, 21 1:13 pm     Reply with quote

Foils are sharp for sure. A few comments:

1) It's always good to have wetsuit, booties, gloves, helmet and sunglasses. Something between your skin and your foil can mean the difference between a minor bruise and a trip to the ER. Can't tell you how many times I've been saved from cuts by wetsuit or booties.

2) When you fall, try to maintain some control of your foil. Foil has lift and your body weight counteracts that. When you fall off if you foil has forward momentum it will shoot out of the water without your weight to counteract the lift. Often if I can even keep a toe on the board as I fall I can keep the foil from shooting up out of the water.

3) Light weight setup is important for more that just carrying to the beach. A heavy setup has more force when you accelerate it through the water (F=MA), so when you fall off it will have more force if it hits you and it decelerates. Unfortunately light setups are more expensive.

4) On the other hand, once you get the hang of it foiling is probably less dangerous than twin-tip. Most kite accidents involve getting lofted and landing on hard objects. Experienced foilers are generally on much smaller kites than twin-tippers, so there is just less power available to loft a kiter onto some rocks.

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tinyE

Since 21 Jan 2006
1958 Posts
not really an
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PostTue Sep 07, 21 1:55 pm     Reply with quote

Nak wrote:
The sharp trailing edges have no value other than to cut you.


coming from someone who has spent more than a decade on foils, i can tell you this statement is NOT true. The trailing edge will be a huge cause of drag, which probably isn't very noticeable when you have a kite pulling you, but it makes a big difference in other applications!!!

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ldhr

Since 21 Jul 2009
1393 Posts
Hood River
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PostTue Sep 07, 21 2:37 pm     Reply with quote

2 types of foilers - those who've been injured by the foil and those yet to be injured....

I have over 300 days kite foiling and 200 days wing foiling. No injuries.
I wear water sneakers - kicking the foil and cutting your feet ankles are the most common injury.
Almost every foiler I know who rides barefoot has had stitches.
Two types of people - clumsy accident prone people who break stuff and get injured and those who are not so injury prone. Which category do you fall in?

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shred_da_gorge

Since 12 Nov 2008
1081 Posts
Local, not Low Cal
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PostTue Sep 07, 21 10:36 pm     Reply with quote

Been learning windsurf-foiling this summer. I wear a 2mm shorty and hate booties. Been super careful thinking I wouldn't be 'that guy' but came close to stitches after a nick that I didn't even feel when it happened. I cut the legs off my old steamer to wear under my 2mm shorty and they work marvelously!

Managed to find the split-toe booties I used to wear windsurfing and won't foil without them now. Shopping for a new helmet that fits better than my old Pro-Tech since I can't envision myself riding a foil without one. Was wearing an impact vest but switched to using the PFD that I downwind SUP with, mainly cuz I'm stubborn and it helps waterstarting despite the experts saying that I should be on a sail small enough to require uphauling. PFD should be safe enough since it survived the foil winglet jabbing me in the middle of my back (somehow... haven't reconstructed that crash scenario in my head just yet).

You won't need a board leash or a GoJoe though. Very Happy

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markamcclure

Since 20 May 2011
126 Posts
Portland, OR
Stoked



PostWed Sep 08, 21 4:44 am     Reply with quote

Thanks all! I am a bit ‘gun-shy’ after neck surgery a few years back. Nothing is worth a repeat of that.

I will try these suggestions: full suit/booties/helmet, go ahead and fall while still in control, square trailing edges w sandpaper, don’t kick in the water. Not sure about the first suggestion ‘use kite to help get away from foil when falling over the side.’

I tried foiling Sunday, but I quickly dropped my kite and couldn’t relaunch the smaller kite in light wind conditions. Luckily I found my foil eventually after getting separated. I am thinking to bring some cord next time to stay connected to the foil during a relaunch. What do you do to avoid losing your foil during a kite relaunch/rescue? Anyone figure out a clever way to attach the cord to the foil (half hitch of foot hook, half hitch under board where foil baseplate attaches, just wrap cord around board)?

I am really hoping for some foiling days (Jones) September-October.

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watercamper

Since 08 Sep 2017
64 Posts
Boise
 



PostWed Sep 08, 21 6:06 am    suggestions Reply with quote

All good info here!

I put a small loop of paracord at the very rear of my board. Wrapped it around a strap screw and screwed it in. Easier to clip in and tow the assy backwards.

I made a second leash for my harness. It's about 3' long. Clips on each end. Coiled up and not dangling. Breakaway in the middle in case of problems when towing the board.

Definitely use the kite to power up above and beyond the foil when falling.

Never bend at the waist. Recipe for disaster. You are bending down (falling trying to save it) typically putting lots of pressure on the board to rotate that big foil assy upwards toward you as you fall. You have to leap off superman style to avoid injury. For me, it only took once. Or twice? Or three times?

It sounds like you are trying too small of a kite for your level. Beginners typically need power so you may even use the same size kite as you would for TTing. As you advance, you will go smaller.

As you get better, you will almost never drop your kite in the water. I thought my kite skills were really good until I starting foiling! I made my leash system after another kiter decided to come up behind me and did whatever to wrap their lines around mine. That's the only time I've lost my board. Now, I fall, kite almost never goes down, BD to the board or wait for it to surf to me, restart.

If concerned about the sharp edges, pick up one of the SS wings where the outside end of the wings are turned up, like the space skate.

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WindSki

Since 14 Dec 2012
377 Posts
Portland
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PostWed Sep 08, 21 6:38 am     Reply with quote

2 types of foilers - those who've been injured by the foil and those yet to be injured....

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wylieflyote

Since 30 Jun 2006
1607 Posts
Puget Sound & Wa. Coast
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PostWed Sep 08, 21 6:51 am     Reply with quote

WindSki wrote:
2 types of foilers - those who've been injured by the foil and those yet to be injured....


Got finally tagged yesterday after 7 years foiling. Moses vs head


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Nak

Since 19 May 2005
4016 Posts
Camas
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PostWed Sep 08, 21 7:45 am     Reply with quote

tinyE wrote:
Nak wrote:
The sharp trailing edges have no value other than to cut you.


coming from someone who has spent more than a decade on foils, i can tell you this statement is NOT true. The trailing edge will be a huge cause of drag, which probably isn't very noticeable when you have a kite pulling you, but it makes a big difference in other applications!!!


So you're saying a squared 1 - 1.5 mm thick trailing edge will cause a huge increase in drag over a razor sharp trailing edge? Could you explain how you determined this as I've seen nothing to indicate this in any of the papers I've read, nor has taking the edge of my foil's trailing edges caused any noticeable increase in drag. A sharp trailing edge is certainly easy to achieve compared to other shapes, but is not the preferred trailing edge shape according to any study I've seen. The "Donaldson Trailing Edge" shape seems to hold that distinction.

I'll agree with you that a poor trailing edge shape will both cause drag and sing, but a 1mm thick squared trailing edge should not cause any noticeable increase in drag over a sharp edge. I think you'd find the drag increase difficult to measure even with the proper equipment; any miniscule advantage certainly isn't worth the hazard involved with sharp edges. As an example, look at Lift eFoils. Certainly they have spent more on engineering than most, and have considerable incentive to reduce drag in order to increase ride time. Their trailing edges are definitely not razor sharp.

TBH, I think the perception that sharp trailing edges are superior is a case of confirmation bias. Sure take a rounded trailing edge and sand it to a razor edge and you'll reduce drag. (Rounded trailing edges have horrible drag and sing as well.) But how many sports enthusiasts have actually tested different shapes in a "current tunnel" and measured the results? Fortunately, their are numerous engineering studies that have done just this.

Let me add tinyE that I'm not doubting your word or your experience. You've been an intelligent poster here and a valuable part of the community. I'm just wondering if you've actually tested a sharp edge compared to a variety of other trailing edge shapes.

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Nak

Since 19 May 2005
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PostWed Sep 08, 21 8:17 am     Reply with quote

wylieflyote wrote:
WindSki wrote:
2 types of foilers - those who've been injured by the foil and those yet to be injured....


Got finally tagged yesterday after 7 years foiling. Moses vs head



Ow!! I'm glad you're OK Kip!!

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eric

Since 13 Jan 2006
1700 Posts

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PostWed Sep 08, 21 8:59 am     Reply with quote

A few years ago Larry turned onto glueing a plastic baseball cap insert into my surf hat. It absolutely protects your head from foil cuts. It absolutely does not protect you from concussive hits. Anyway, several of use use them inside our water hats.

Eric

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user124

Since 02 Aug 2012
376 Posts
Portland
Obsessed



PostWed Sep 08, 21 9:48 am     Reply with quote

eric wrote:
A few years ago Larry turned onto glueing a plastic baseball cap insert into my surf hat. It absolutely protects your head from foil cuts. It absolutely does not protect you from concussive hits. Anyway, several of use use them inside our water hats.

Eric


I've been doing this too. It's a lot more comfortable than a helmet, and you don't really need a full shell with padding to protect your scalp from getting cut or split by the foil. Here are the one's I get:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079KDWN62?ref=nb_sb_ss_w_as-ypp-ro-model_ypp_ro_model_k0_1_7&crid=1JPY8MDVJU11C&sprefix=cap+ins

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Nak

Since 19 May 2005
4016 Posts
Camas
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PostWed Sep 08, 21 10:46 am     Reply with quote

The Gath helmets aren't certified, but they're pretty slim and comfortable. Also, no bill means less neck stress from the helmet scooping water in a crash. Mine gives me much better coverage than other helmets I've tried; more of the bone at the back of the head is covered. I switched to these because my board caught a wave after a crash in Baja and hit me right below the helmet in the back of the head. I couldn't ride for 15 minutes I was so dazed.

The full cut helps protect the eardrums from damage, but makes it hard to hear others. The one with the ear space cut out makes it easy to hear, but no eardrum protection. (Unless you leave the ear protectors on, but then it's hard to hear again.)

https://gathsports.com/product/gath-hat-eva/
https://gathsports.com/product/gath-sfc/

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Singlemalt

Since 21 Jun 2015
384 Posts
White Salmon
Obsessed



PostWed Sep 08, 21 12:07 pm     Reply with quote

I’ve purchased a Moses foil, and frankly, I’m waiting until I’m back in a full suit to ride it.
It’s stupid sharp. Trailing edges on both the wings and the mast are scaring me.
I’ll be taking a sanding block to all the edges before I ride this stuff. I’m not interested in every last bit of performance. I want to go have fun, not go to the ER.

Even with my rounded, dull Cloud 9 setup, it’s easy to get nicked on the shin.

I’m adding an impact vest for protection, warmth and some flotation to my safety gear.

I always wear a helmet, and safety glasses. I’ve been thumped on the head too many times. The thing pounces on you from behind.

Booties or shoes, always. Kicking the foil is painful.

I carry a oceanic reel leash for those times when the kite goes down and won’t come back up. Getting the foil on a leash is first on the list or it’s going to get away downwind. Not a problem if you get the kite back in the air in a few minutes, but if it’s not going to fly....

Keep your knife in good shape and handy.

Dress for the swim. (See my post from the end of March)

Pick your days, and look for steady wind. I’ve had a dozen great sessions at Stevenson this summer when HR was a gusty mess. Totally worth driving 50 miles round trip.

Get some coaching or take a lesson, it’s worth it.

Kitefoiling is super cool, but it can go sideways in a hurry.

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