6 March 2023

Foil boarding goes back to the future

By Paul Knox-Johnston Sales & Marketing Manager (Marine)
Buddy foiling

Why not get futuristic by
taking up this new water sport?

Maybe it’s our age, but those who said nothing good ever came out of the 1980’s, obviously haven’t watched a single Back To The Future film. If they had they, like us, would be fixated on that scene in Back To The Future II where Marty Mcfly grabbed his hoverboard and flies across the ground only to come to a watery finish when he fails to make it across the pond. We are yet to confirm if hoverboard insurance existed back then but fast forward more than 30 years and a topic of hot debate amongst the HKJ crew is how much did that one scene influence the growing popularity of the latest water sport trend to hit our (off) shores; foil boarding (and we can help try and find you the right foil insurance policy for that).

Admittedly, we haven’t yet found the article where Laird Hamilton, the inventor of tow-in-surfing, has confessed to ‘Back to the Future’ being his favourite film, although at 58, we think he was at a peek impressionable age when it was released, however, he was obviously not content with the idea of hovering his way across a few ponds. A keen surfer, he used foil technology to tow his surfboard into the big waves in Hawaii in the 1990’s, and where one crazy surfer will go, others will follow and a new water sport was born; foil boarding.


Foil boarding, is riding on a board equipped with a hydrofoil. A cross between surfing, snowboarding and flying – you glide above the waves creating an exhilarating, and frankly futuristic ride. The foil board combines the thinking behind hydrofoil boats i.e. think of those boats usually driven by villains in James Bond movies, and well, a traditional surfboard. A hydrofoil is pushed through the water by the waves with the aid of a fin like structure to avoid drag and go faster. A foiling board is a shorter and wider version of a surfboard with the hydrofoil at the bottom that consists of a vertical mast and a horizontal wing to provide lift and stability.

As you can imagine, when you are suspended above the water and reaching speeds of up to 40mph, foil boarding is a little more dangerous than traditional surfing, so we recommend you get comfortable on SUP’s, windsurfers and surfboards before progressing to the much trickier and faster foil board where stability is everything.

It also helps to start out being towed by boats, similar to a water ski, before you progress to actual surfing on the foil board. Safety should always be a top priority, and in our foil insurance we endorse helmets and impact vests whenever you ride. Once you are up and running and have mastered the technique, you are free to glide above the water Marty Mcfly style, with experienced riders hitting those top speeds.

If life currently feels a little bit sedate at sea, then flying above the waves on a foil board will definitively help you get that next adrenaline fix, and foil board insurance will ensure that you will have complete peace of mind whatever the next wave may bring.

*Haven Knox-Johnston have reached out to Laird Hamilton for comment on his favourite film and have not heard back yet.

For Foiling Board Insurance enquiries call:

+44 (0)1202 725165

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