Surfers — as cool and chill as they seem — are actually a lot nerdier than you think. And it’s their mild obsession with physics, which comes in handy when trying to catch a wave, that has hooked at least some surfing devotees to this spaceship-like board capable of gliding above the surface of the water.
The hydrofoil surfboard, as surfing legend Laird Hamilton claims, “uses the energy under the water” and touches a “deeper source of the wave” to push the surfboard up and above the water. Using a combination of fluid dynamics, a pair of snowboarding boots and a slightly angled and strategically placed foil wing underneath, the hydrofoil board lifts surfers up over the water as they pick up speed.
While not new to the water sports world — wind, wake and even kneeboarding surfers have been hydrofoiling since the 1960s — these futuristic boards don’t get much play time in the traditional and more popular surf scene.
Hamilton, it seems, wants that to change. In his never-ending pursuit to improve traditional surfing — even combining it with the landlocked sport of golf — the big wave guru has mastered the underrated art of tow-in hydrofoil surfing. The results, as demonstrated in his new, drone-shot video filmed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, are magical.
As one hydrofoiling fan described it, it’s like “you’re surfing on a cloud.”