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JoJaffa goes Hydrofoiling

Flying over the water, skimming the surface

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Why....go hydrofoiling?
Getting started
How do I get started?
Kit and caboodle
Recommended reading
Spoil yourself
Holidays and Vacations
Getting more out of....hydrofoiling
I've got the basics, what next?

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Why....go hydrofoiling?

Photo courtesy of Air

Big air is the name of the game with experienced riders doing flips & rolls in excess of 25' high! It's the latest craze in water-skiing & it defines a whole new extreme in sports.

Sounds wild?

What is it?

It's being called hydrofoiling & allows a rider to "fly" the hydrofoil above the water.

They are pulled by a typical ski boat using similar equipment as water-skiing & wakeboarding. Life vests, wetsuits, drysuits, non-stretch ski ropes, and gloves are the norm. But because the foil is so streamlined & so efficient, the amount of effort it takes to hold on to the rope is considerably less than a conventional water-ski. So if riders just want to cruise, they can go for miles with a lot less effort. Big riders aren't at any disadvantage with their smaller counterparts as they can "fly" like the rest. Young kids pick it up quickly. Jumps are the first manoeuvre that riders usually learn. Then inevitably they try to flip it. Many riders pick up inverted manoeuvres within the first or second year they ride. Then the trick list is long & has names like skidder, back rolls, front roll, MacThruster, gainer, rodeo, undertaker, floater, & even one called the flying chicken.

Check out these Internet videos of the best hydrofoilers in action

So who makes these crazy things, you ask? Because of the closely guarded patents, there are only two companies manufacturing them, Air Chair & Sky Ski. Both brands are similar in that they are a sit-down style water-ski with a ski, seat & 28" tall hydrofoil with two wings. Air Chair has been making sit-down style skis since about 1989. Then the all new Sky Ski was released back in 1998, and ever since both manufacturers have been pushing the envelope to create a bigger, better, stronger, faster mousetrap.

For years riders tuned their own Air Chair foils by stripping the black powdercoating off the foil and filing & sanding the wings to shape them so they "flew" through the water more efficiently, gave them bigger jumps, & softer landings. Then Sky Ski's foils came completely tuned. Then Air Chair released their all-new foil design with special curved wings designed for more air & softer landings. Then Sky Ski released a Shock Tower; a seat with a modified mountain bike shock built into it for 4" of shock absorbing travel built into it. Innovations are guaranteed to continue, driving the riders bigger & faster, & the sport into television sports programs like X-Games & Gravity Games.

For many riders it's an addicting sport, so much so that they form groups of riders & have names like Air Junky, Hydroholics, Sky Pilots, & Toxic Foils. Riders are known to build websites & organise events known as "Fly-Ins" just for foil riders to gather together & ride. The sport continues to grow at an exceedingly fast rate. There is now a quarterly newsletter geared towards them titled "Flight". And shops all around the world are stocking equipment to attract foil riders.


Tell us what got you interested in hydrofoiling

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Getting started

Foiling can be leisurely too. It's as easy or as extreme as the rider wants to take it. The foils will fly with light riders at speeds as low as 10 mph. That means that ANYONE can ride a foil.

Riders in the sport today are as young as 3 years old and as old as 81! For Mary Murphy's 80th birthday, she decided she would ride out to Catalina Island & back to the mainland, a trip of 52 miles! Check out our tips on age and safety.

The aerodynamic hydrofoil significantly eases the pull on the rope. That means that, once you're moving, much less upper body strength is needed than with conventional water skiing.

Of course, you may wish to jump and fly too. Check out our recommendations about physical strength.

Because hydrofoil skiing is more like sitting in a chair than standing on skis, lots of less-able people with little or no control below their waist can ride for long distances or pull off wake jumps. Check out the recommendations for the less-able.

The foils themselves can be as expensive as $1800 (US) for the best ones available. But for beginners, used foils can be as inexpensive as $200 - $300. Some skiers will help to train you and lend their equipment.

You don't need a boat - not at the outset any way - check out our advice on equipment and boats.

So what do I need to be able to do?

Well, you need:

  • The desire to "fly".
  • The ability to swim (but you'll be wearing a life vest anyway).
  • That's it


To start hydrofoiling you need to borrow or rent a foil (from your local ski shop if you live in the US). Take it out to the water & practice getting up & "flying the foil".

Other equipment varies for every rider. EVERYONE should wear a life vest for flotation. If you get cold, wetsuits & even drysuits are available. And gloves, helmets & boots are not uncommon.

As with any sport, good equipment makes a rider better & protects them in case of adversity. Many riders are eager to teach new riders & some willing to share equipment (such as foils). However, it's common for riders to own their own wet/drysuits, vests or gloves & share boats & foils.

You can get these basic items in our Kit & Caboodle section. There are also many things you may want to get as you start to go hydrofoiling regularly, and we can help you find the best of these as well.

You can of course invest in a good hydrofoil video first.

Now you have the basic things you need there are only three things to decide: who to hook up with, when to start, and where to go.

Where to learn to hydrofoilAgain, many riders will help teach and train. If you want to take some time at a training centre, then you can find schools in Arizona, California, Colorado, & Florida
Who will I go with and who will help train me?Rider's groups are all across the USA. The Hydrofoil E-mail list is becoming a big way of hooking them all up. See Check out these local clubs

South California - Century City Ski Club
Please let us know of any more clubs.

When do I go?To begin with, you'll probably start when the weather is warmer and at weekend when there are other riders around to help. However, you can start almost any time. Check out for a list of events worldwide.
Where do I go?The sport is very US based, but it is also becoming very popular in Mexico, Canada, & Switzerland to name just a few places. In fact, one of the major investors lives in Switzerland.

If you live in the UK, other parts of Europe or elsewhere in the world, then either check out JoJaffa's companions for someone to link up with, or contact your national water-ski federation.

If you're based in the US, then you're in luck. In particular check out these lakes as the top destinations:

(Sports Disclaimer)

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Getting more out of....hydrofoiling

The best suggestion for information/ books on Hydrofoiling is Flight. It's a quarterlynewsletter & you can see the subscription info at

Flight has a video called The Flight Worlds 1999. It was the Worldchampionships last year & is available on that web site too. Very cool!

Also, Sky Ski has a video called High Performance hydrofoils. It costs $20 on or is also available through Flight.

And the Hydroholics have two new videos due out VERY soon, like this month.We'll see the notice of it, along with the order forms at

We've been told there's a new hydrofoiling chat page at Let us know what you think of it.

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Kit and caboodle

Need a good book, video or more advice? JoJaffa has picked out the best for you. For each book/ video just click on the amazon link find out the price and get more information.

If you can suggest any good books about hydrofoiling, let us know.

Recommended Reading

Magazine : Flight World
by Tony Klarich
The only known publication on Hydrofoiling - you've got to get it if you want to take part.

More info from Flight World

Video : The Flight Worlds 1998
by Tommy Phillips
You need to see it to believe it - so watch it on video.

More info from Flight World

Video : High Performance hydrofoils
by Sky Ski
It's easier to watch this stuff than learn it from a book - make sure your video recorder can handle US format video.

More info from SkySki

Video : New video
by Hydroholics
Just out!

More info from Coldlake

Buying a hydrofoil. If you can't borrow the equipment to start then head for the two main manufactures
SkySki andAir Chair

Make sure you have and use a life vest for flotation.

If you don't like the cold you can either hire or buy wetsuits or even drysuits. If you're not keen on squeezing into someone else's ill fitting wetsuit then this should be your first purchase. Also gloves, helmets & boots are a good early investment.

For wetsuits and waterskiing gear check out the Fogdog sports store.

Fogdog has lots of gear, loads of product reviews and great prices. They deliver worldwide - but allow extra time for your gear to arrive if you live out side the USA.

For specific hydrofoiling equipment - best to check with one of the manufacutures like or try your local store.

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Spoil yourself


If you decide you like the sport you might want to buy your own hydrofoil ski.

If you're feeling flush with cash and want to buy a boat then check out this site.

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Open Outcry

Got a question? Get an answer!

Post a message to the hydrofoiling discussion board.

You might just

  • have a general question about hydrofoiling?
  • want to make a comment
  • want to share tips and advice with fellow JoJaffa-ers?

... Then why not use our hydrofoiling chat board

Maybe someone has already asked that burning question you're longing to find the answer to ...

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