Pismo Beach resident Jason Lee has been chasing good surfing conditions on the Central Coast for the better part of two decades.
Lee, a Cal Poly graduate and the owner of Sky Pirate Drones and California Kiteboarding, recently posted a video of him SUP foil surfing, an up-and-coming sport combining a stand up paddleboard and a hydrofoil.
So, what exactly is a hydrofoil board?
In a nutshell, it’s a surfboard or SUP with a foil that extends below the board and into the water. The design helps lift the board off the surface of the water, allowing the rider to enjoy the thrill of a catching a wave in less-than-ideal surfing conditions — a common occurrence on the Central Coast.
“In the beginning, surfers had to get towed into waves and used snowboard boots to be strapped to the foil,” Lee said.
After years of tinkering, Lee said the concept is starting to take off. He believes the kiteboarding industry has helped progress the designs of foils with improved construction and newer shapes.
Plus, Lee said, he has seen more customers buying foils to put them on shortboard surfboards.
“We don’t always get the best waves in Pismo,” Lee said, “so it’s been a lot of fun going out there and flying on the foil when no one else is really catching waves.”
He emphasized that hydrofoils should not be used in crowded areas, and the learning curve can be steep for newcomers. But, an experienced surfer “can be up and flying in a week or two.”
“The great thing about foiling is you can find new uncrowded spots and increase your wave count tremendously,” Lee said.