Tech Talk: Foils and foil board compatibility


Hey, what’s up guys? We’re here in Cape Town with Dylan Wichmann. My name is Wieger from Appletree Surfboards and today we’re going to talk about another question that we get a lot: are your boards compatible with all foil brands?

A perfect 90 degree match

In our boards, what we try to do is get the mast box exactly at zero degrees with the standing area of the board. So your feet are in parallel with the box. And if the foil is 90 degrees, it should be a perfect 90 degree match. But as you, Dylan, already mentioned before we were filming, some brands do not use this 90 degree angle.

And that can cause problems later down the line. How’s your experience with this sort of stuff? Dylan: luckily I’ve never, since I’ve been on the appletree boards, had to shim my mast. Because the unifoil masts are 90 degrees to the base plate, but the old ones were at a bit of an angle. So should I have been on those, I would have had to shim the base plate. 

Why dock starting can help

Another bit of advice that I can give you is, if your foil doesn’t feel right, the best way to dial something in is by taking the board and doing dock starts. One of the hardest things during a foil session is trying to set the board shim. Set your whole foil up, paddle out into the surf, get far out enough that the foil is not on the ground that you can get up, get a ride, feel it out, etc. 

Where if you go and dock start and you already know how to dock start, you can do two pumps and feel if the foil is right or wrong for you. Then you can say, take five different base plate shims down. Shim for whatever you want to shim, mess around with that. And within 10 minutes you should know exactly what setups you want to be riding with your specific board and foil brand that you ride. 

the best way to dial something in is by taking the board and doing dock starts

Negative angle of attack

Our other surf foil models, and not the one that we have here, but the Pro Foil V2 actually has a slight negative angle of attack. And we did that on purpose just to angle the board down slightly. And I’ve noticed that a lot of riders really like this slightly down sloping board for when surf foiling, because otherwise it sometimes feels that you get pushed up too much. If you go down the face of a wave, your board is naturally already a little bit down, but if it sometimes wants to stay up it’s hard to put that front foot pressure. 

Does your skill level matter?

Have you noticed that in that board compared to this one, how it’s slightly different? Dylan: Well, I think also what happened a little bit for me is that I got into the level now where I don’t really notice those changes as much. So what I can do is like, if there’s too much front foot pressure, I’ll shift back a little bit. Or forward a little bit. 

Riding your foils further forward in the box

I’ve actually started riding all my foils further forward in the box. So then you have that I can move back on my board or I can move forward. As opposed to if you have your foil all the way back in the box, there’s only so far your back foot can move to be able to balance the board.

The reason why I did notice a little bit of the negative angle in the  previous boards was actually because the old unifoil  also used to have that same negative angle. So most of the time I was riding more front foot down. But then again, once I moved over to these boards, I have been riding for long enough that I didn’t really notice too much of a difference.

Negative angle of attack on a foil board

To shim or not to shim

It’s so complicated with foiling, with the stabilizers and the stabilizer shims. And the fuselage lengths and the different front wings that also have attack angles and then the mast and then the mast attack angle. 

For me personally, I sort of try to always make it work. Because if you start tweaking around with the little things, you know at some point you are just going to get completely lost and actually end up worse than you may be started at. I’ve seen that with friends as well. They just keep on changing new foils, new stabilizers, new shims, and then their foiling doesn’t really improve. 

Dylan: or you’ll see someone that’s actually riding pretty well. And you get on this set up and you can’t even lift the foil out of the water.  If you had the foil in the right spot, you’d be 10 times better as opposed to hacking with that initial set up. 

Getting used to a new set up

Wieger: And you do get used to your setup even more than with surfboards. Back in the days when we were surfing and you switched surfboards with your mates, it’s usually quite easy to start riding on the surfboard. If you do it with foiling, you get so used to your setup. If you switch in the water, it’s like you’re on a completely different setup, but everything feels different. It takes time to get used to it. So I guess you can tweak a little bit, but I always try to leave it to the professionals to advise what to do, because it’s just so complicated, the whole foil and foil design.

Our boards are compatible

So that was a little bit about the attack angles. Again, like I said, our boards should work with all foils out there. Some brands do have a slight positive or negative attack, which they compensate for in their own boards. I don’t really know why. Maybe they’re trying to sell more of their own full kits, which I kind of understand. But with a bit of shimming, you should always be able to make it work.

Just remember that ours are always at 90 degrees, which should be the neutral position. It’s a good starting point. And just go from there with your shims. 


So that’s about it for our interview series with Dylan. Dylan, thank you very much for coming. I think the wind’s picking up, so you’re released. You can go have a session. Thanks so much.

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