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  • Writer's pictureTeam OTC

How do you keep yourself safe when foiling?

In this blog we use the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) 7 common senses for safe sailing and relate them back to foiling, to answer the question; How do you keep yourself safe when out on the water, with some extra considerations for foiling? We look at equipment, communication, weather, conditions, sailing with a buddy, tides and other water users. By being prepared with the necessary safety gear and etiquette knowledge you will protect yourself and others. From swells to full flight, exhilarating fun awaits, safety is the key to ensuring a positive and enjoyable experience on the water.

By Emma Nicholson and Joe Adams.

Stay safe when heading out for a foil!

1.Is your equipment seaworthy and suitable?

You, your board, foil, sail, wing, kite need to be properly equipped for a safe and enjoyable time on the water. Make sure you wear suitable clothing to keep you warm and comfortable. Once you start to get cold your ability to think and function properly is reduced. Wetsuit, Boots, Gloves.

Do you need a buoyancy aid or impact vest?

You should have personal safety equipment that is well maintained and fitted correctly for safe sailing. A common cause for needing to be rescued is equipment failure. Check your equipment regularly. Checked for any wear or damage. Check sail condition, mast, boom, UJ; foil condition, foil bolts for corrosion or cracks; kite and lines condition; wing for any leaks or frayed stitching. Foils can be extremely sharp, so it is advisable to wear a helmet and impact vest to minimise the risk of cuts or other injury's from foil impact. Wearing a wetsuit will also provide a level of protection against cuts from the foil.

Scotty Stallman
The OTC Team Rider, Scotty Stallman wind foiling.

2. Tell someone where you are going?

Always let a responsible friend or family member know where you’re going, when you’re likely to be back, confirming to them once you have returned.

With downwinders becoming more popular, consider using the free RYA SafeTrx app, especially on longer journeys and adventures, to help track your whereabouts, with other routes to communicate, such as having a watch with a phone function, or carrying a mobile phone. Other considerations might be Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs), especially if planning a longer journeys.

Mia Adcock
Mia Adcock, founder of Women Who Wing!

3. Weather forecast

To avoid being caught out by changing conditions, always check the forecast in advance, including the outlook, in case weather comes in sooner than expected. It is also advisable to look at multiple weather sources. If you are sailing at a new location, try to seek advice from someone with local knowledge. Be cautious of water depth especially when foiling. Always  consider the local area, and when sailing at the coast, think about when is the best time to sail there, considering the tide and currents, any navigation dangers, and how much daylight you have.

Why not try e-foiling at The OTC, on our Fliteboard!

4.Can you handle the conditions?

Always ensure you are adequately experienced to handle the conditions you are going out in. Know your limits and those of anyone else you are with.

You can’t plan for all eventualities. Be honest with yourself and only go out in conditions suitable to your ability and equipment.

Consider taking a training course, increasing your proficiency and range of conditions you are able to venture out in. Always be mindful of the 'what if' something did go wrong can you get yourself back easily, I.E, foil breaks, mast breakage, wing deflated, kite line breaks. Don’t go further offshore than you wish to swim back if needs be. And remember.....If in doubt, don’t go out.

Foiling with a buddy
Foiling with a buddy adds to your safety!

5.Sail with others?

Avoid sailing alone if possible. It’s always great to have a buddy so that you can keep an eye on each other and raise the alarm if something doesn’t go to plan. If you are sailing alone, remember to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back in. And if planning a 'Downwinder' or similar journey, set up a some form of communication with someone ashore, take a mobile phone and/or PLB or similar.

Joe Adams
Joe Adams, SurfDoctor Operations Manager wing foiling!

6. Avoid strong tides

Offshore winds, poor visibility, and if sailing on the coast, strong tidal steams, shouldn’t be underestimated. It's easy to be caught out and swept away from the safety of their chosen sailing area, so it is essential that you understand the conditions you are going out in and what consequences could occur.

Avoid poor visibility, it prevents you from seeing dangers and others from seeing you should you get into difficulty. Foiling can be especially dangerous in low visibility as your perception of height and distance is altered.

Pro-Rider, Scotty wearing his helmet and impact vest adds to his safety!

7. Consider other water users

Many locations can often be busy with other water users. You should respect others both on and off the water by following local restrictions. Give others plenty of space and take all action necessary to avoid collisions or any other type of incident or accident. Foils are quiet and therefore precaution should be taken when turning or manoeuvring. Stay away from swimmers and busy wave locations, precaution should be taken around breaking waves and to ensure leashes are in good order. Make sure that there are no restrictions of foiling at your chosen location. These restrictions are tighter against motorised foiling craft such as eFoils. Always check with your local authority or harbour master on the rules of motorised foiling at any certain location.

Helmets and impact vests are available from SurfDoctor, we also stock everything you need for your foiling adventure to get you safely on the water, call 07944 254561 and speak to the SurfDoctor team if you need any advice on foiling kit you are looking to buy. If you are looking for some 1:1 foiling tuition, look no further than The Official Test Centre, our team of awesome instructors can take you to the next level, book online or call 07817 717904 and we will have you flying in no time!



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