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We interviewed Ruben Panzavolta (shaper and creator of the Moses lightwind hydrofoil) and Gianluca Caimmi (team rider) with Riccardo and Matteo (two customers).
Here’s what they had to say.
Xwaters: so let’s talk about this hydrofoil. What made you decide to make your own board?
Ruben: Well in 2007 I saw people had started using hydrofoils and decided to make one. I made the first prototype out of wood, and learnt how to use it, changed a few profiles until I got it just right and it was obvious that the performance in lightwind was something special. Then people started asking me for boards, so I changed construction and started making more.
Xw: So, it’s a lightwind board?
R: They’re specifically designed for lightwind.
Xw: How light?
Gianluca: In 7 knots you’ll be going so far upwind you won’t believe it, without moving the kite, and you don’t need a big kite either.
Ruben: Upwind angle is similar to that of a catamaran, no shit
Xw: So what kites are you using?
Gl: Ruben weighs 86kg and uses a 12m C kite. I weigh 76kg and use a 12m hybrid.
Xw: What about the high range if the wind picks up?
R: With the same kite you can get up to about 13-14 knots before you become overpowered, but you can use the board in more wind with a smaller kite. We’ve patented all the designs, both the hydrofoil board and the foil with just footpads.
Xw: Just footpads?
R: Yep, it doesn’t need a board. It’s called the Radical Foil. You’ve got the foil in the water and a foot sized platform with footpads and straps on top. When you pass people stop and stare like they can’t believe it. I’ll give you some photos.
Xw: Ok. What’s the top speed of the board like?
Gl: We haven’t clocked it yet but we will.
R: You’ll be going faster than you think. It’s as fast as you can go in lightwind conditions.
Xw: Ok, but the more wind in the sail the faster you go, or do you reach a max speed and then max out?
R: This foil is for lightwind. If you want a foil for stronger wind and high speed, you need to change foils.
G: We’re working on a high-speed foil at the moment.
R: It’s the opposite of other boards, say surfboards, race boards and twintips. The lighter the wind the slower these boards will be and the faster the foil will be, much faster, the stronger the wind the nearer the other boards will get to the speed of the foil.
In 8-9 knots you’ll be much faster with a hydrofoil and a 12m kite than on a conventional lightwind board with a big kite.
Xw: What about racing then?
R: You’d have about the same speed with a 12m kite and a foil as a race board and a 16m kite I reckon. You can’t use hydrofoils for racing though because it’s considered a long fin and regulation length fins can’t be longer than 50cm. Another thing is, rider weight has much less influence with a foil, so it’s ideal for heavier riders who want to go kiting in light wind.
Xw: So what’s it like on the water?
R: It’s really something else.
G: It’s awesome, a bit of a balancing act at first, but absolutely priceless once you get going. You lose contact with the water and chop, it’s like floating above the water in silence.
Xw: What’s the best kite setup.
G: Medium sized bow because as soon as you start you only need about 1/3 of the initial starting power to go upwind, so a kite with a lot of depower is best. Also, you don’t need a big kite for lightwind.
Xw: What about line length?
G. I use 20m but you can use up to 40m so you’ve got a bigger window with a smoother and longer power stroke.
Xw: Any competition from other lightwind foils?
G: We’ve tried others and I’d say this is unbeatable for light wind. Kiters with this board and other foils use the Moses foil for lightwind. It’s designed specifically for ultra light wind.
Xw: What about the construction?
G: It’s a carbon composite construction specifically designed to withstand stress, but it weighs just over 5 kgs.
Xw: Any tips on how to use it?
R: We’ll have a user guide online soon. Basically you don’t want to edge like on a TT, you want to keep your weight forwards. It’s more like riding a surfboard down a wave than kiting with a TT. It’s not hard to learn to kite on a hydrofoil, it’s just different. You do need to have good kite control though. Once you get it sussed you can jump, and the foil has much more pop than a conventional board in light conditions.
G: (Laughing) Before starting always remember to say your prayers. Don’t try to edge and keep your weight forwards. Keep trying until you get it sussed. Once you get going you’ll notice that weight changes in your body and feet are transmitted immediately to the board so you want to keep it soft. It’s a great exercise in concentration, and when you get it, you won’t believe how easy it is. I ride the foils strapless now, and you can use them in the waves and ride down a big face. You decide what height you want to cruise at. At first keep the straps in the most forwards inserts to keep your weight forward, then move them back as you progress, or ride strapless.
Xw: Ok, how long’s the waiting list.
R: No waiting list.
Xw: And the name?
R: Moses divided the waters before him.
Xw: What about assembling the board, how long does it take?
G: 10 screws - about 3 minutes.
Xw: Really though - how difficult is it to use?
R: (Laughing) Depends, it’s different to other boards. I’ve had people learn in 3 sessions.
G: It might even be an advantage not knowing how to use a TT, because most people who know how to kite with a TT try edging the foil and that don’t work. It’s more like surfing.
R: You use the board more and the traction of the kite less.
G: It’s a great sensation, every family should have one.
Xw. Ok, thanks guy. Let’s hear what your customers have to say. Riccardo what was it like the first time you tried the hydrofoil?
Riccardo: Like learning to walk on eggs. It took me a while but now.....
Xw: Now what?
Ric. It’s the future. For me it’s a board that means I can kite whenever I want at my home spot, which mostly has light conditions.
Xw: How light?
Ric: In 5/6 knots I can get going and cruise upwind with a 12m SLE on 32m lines. If the wind picks up to over 10 knots I just change the board for my TT, same kite.
Xw: How long did it take you to learn?
Ric: I didn’t really apply myself to learning how to use the hydrofoil at first, but I’d say in all it took me a little over 10 sessions. Matteo got going in less than a week I think. Should take you about 6 sessions of an hour imo, but you need to be a good kite flyer.
Xw. What do you like best about it?
Ric Apart from the low-end range, the silent running, and you can see folk’s jaw drop when they see you.
Xw: You happy with the board?
Ric: It’s great value for money.
Xw: Anything you want to watch out for?
Ric: You can get a few knocks at first, when learning to start. I learnt to keep the board to one side so it doesn’t knock into your shins or knees. The most important thing when learning is the will to accept the challenge and learn something new. As for kites, they’re all good, you just need any old kite and you’ll be faster and on the water sooner than people with the latest big light wind kite and board.
Xw: Ok thanks, Matteo what made you buy one?
Mat: It’s an innovative board; a new way to get out on the water and the upwind angle is incredible. You’ll be kiting into the wind, at the angle you choose. And it’s great for lightwind, like they say.
Xw: So how much wind do you need to get going?
Mat: 6 knots, all you need is to be able to fly the kite. Top range is about 12-14 knots, and then I’ll use a surfboard.
Xw: What kite do you use?
Mat: 12m hybrid with 30m lines. With longer lines you have a bigger window and more time to get going. If the wind is enough to get going you’ll have no problems cruising and going upwind.
Xw: Is it hard to learn?
Mat: It’s not hard to learn, you just need to persevere (laughs). You need to dedicate a bit of time.
Xw: How much time?
Mat: I managed to get going and go upwind after about 6 sessions.
Xw: Are you happy with the board?
Mat. Very happy. It’s a must in a light wind zone.
Xw: Any problems with breakages?
Mat: Bones or board?
Mat: None. I’ve been using it for about a year, no problems.
Xw: What about bones?
Mat: No broken bones. You do need to be careful with your joints, knees and ankles especially, because you’re on something that’s at a height of one and a half metres above the water so when you fall it can be hard on the ankles.
Xw: Next step?
Mat: I’m going to start using the hydrofoil strapless.
Xw: Anything else?
Mat: Try one
After the interview, the anemometer read: 6-7 knots