Sky Solbach talks Foiling

Interview with Fanatic Shaper Sky Solbach on the new Fanatic Foiling Range

Hey Sky, great looking quiver you've got lined up there! What are the changes in the new Sky range?

The new boards have evolved quite a bit from last year. They have much more rocker overall and a more pulled in nose outline which helps a lot when taking steep drops as the nose and rail are much less likely to catch. The bottom shape has also changed from a deep single channel to a slightly convex bottom which we found to be more forgiving, faster and easier to break surface tension when lifting off. The deck shape has a more dug out concave shape that helps anchor your feet to the board and give you maximum leverage over the foil. We also have an angled-up step tail that allows the board to fit into a much tighter transition in the wave without catching and allows you to easily angle the board up for early lift-off. The new boards also paddle much faster, so it’s easier to catch more waves. Where and with whom did you do the testing for the Sky SUP range? I developed the Sky SUP range on Maui over the past year. We have great conditions all year round on Maui for testing foils and foil boards and I am luckily also able to gather great testing feedback from our visiting team riders like Arthur Arutkin, Airton Cozzolino and our USA sales rep and mad dog river paddler Dan Gavere among others.


What are the main design differences between a regular SUP / surf board and a foil board?

We aim to make our foil boards as compact as possible while still be easy to paddle, so they are much shorter than a regular board, which has a lot of benefits when you are Foiling. This short length fits in the wave a lot better, particularly because you are often riding smaller waves on the foil and a short board fits more easily in the tight transition of small waves and gives you more freedom to maneuver within that tight space. A short board also means that you don’t need to run up and down the board to position your feet over the foil and makes take offs much simpler. The shorter length makes the board a lot less physical when it comes to pumping to generate lift from the foil. Our SUP foilboards have a 45 degree bevel on the rail which has a couple of functions; It keeps the rail up and out of the water when you are doing a banked Foiling turn. It also creates a sharp point, which gives it a better release when hitting the water and reduces the wetted area resulting in a softer touch down. Because the board is designed to foil, it doesn’t need to have all the engineered flex characteristics of a regular planing board but it does need to be stiff and light, which gives a much more responsive and reactive ride underfoot.


Can you describe what it’s like to foil compared with regular SUP or Surfing?

Foiling allows you to ride a really small board on a tiny wave and have tons of fun. It just opens up so many more places and conditions and you simply don’t need great conditions anymore to get you really excited to go Surfing! The sensation you get on even the tiniest wave or lump of water is that you have have all the power and speed you could ever want, which is something you only get in really good waves when surfing without a foil. Foiling really does make the undesirable Surfing days seem like the best day ever.


Assuming you can already SUP or Surf, how much more difficult is it to learn Foiling?

Once you know how to SUP or surf I think Foiling just adds a new dimension to it. It is a bit different, when you first start dropping into a wave and the board starts rising out of the water. It takes some time to get used to but it opens up a whole new world of possibilities and conditions. Particularly having a lot more fun in smaller waves. You don’t need to have any special strength or fitness. It’s mostly about technique and positioning on the board. When you are learning you can play a lot with foot positioning. If you stay forward on the board it holds the board down and as you step further back it encourages the foil to lift, so when you are learning you can stay forward a bit more until you are comfortable enough to step back and let it fly and eventually you will find your sweet spot.

Would a good foiler have a quiver of boards for different conditions or is it more about changing the foil?

I would have one surf foil board and one SUP foil board and then simply change the foil. Most people are going to buy these boards for smaller conditions, so one board is definitely going to do the job, but you may want to have a few different wings for different conditions. For example, one for steep waves, one for not such steep waves, one for downwinding or whatever.


In terms of versatility of the SUP foil equipment, do you find there is less need for an extended range of kit when you compared Surfing, Windsurfing, Kiteboarding …? And if so, does this help concentrate your efforts in R&D?

Basically the way the R&D process works is like this: We are in the water every day and we want to be on the best equipment possible in all conditions. We design the gear we feel is needed to cover the widest possible range of use so that riders like ourselves will always have the right equipment to have the most fun in any given conditions.


For you, what is the deciding factor between going for a SUP foil session and a surf foil session?

I like to mix it up, but for me it all depends on the spot. I really enjoy the feeling of flying over the water on a small surf board because it’s the ultimate feeling of freedom, but the SUP gives me much greater access to a variety of waves that are difficult to prone paddle out to on a small board. The outer reefs on Maui are perfect for Foiling and there’s no one around but they are pretty far from shore, so I usually take the SUP when I go there.


How excited are you now that Foiling is sitting comfortably in the mainstream product offerings in the industry, and seems to be accepted and understood by a much broader audience?

We can confidently say now that Foiling is here to stay. Foils have extended the range of existing sports like Windsurfing, kiteboarding, Surfing and SUPing and has now even sparked new sports like open ocean downwind Foiling and wing foiling. I’m excited to see where we can take it next!


Everyone is talking about Wing Foiling these days – what’s Fanatic doing here – and is that part of your Windsurf Foiling division, SUP / Surf Foiling or is that more Kiting?

I’ve been having a lot of fun Wing Foiling lately and there’s a lot of interest in the market for sure. The wing is essentially a handheld sail with a lightweight inflatable structure like a kite and has a rigid boom like a Windsurfing sail. It’s a hybrid of Windsurfing, Kiteboarding and Foil Surfing all rolled into one so it really crosses over into the testing we are doing across all of these sports. We are able to use our Fanatic Aero surf foils, windsurf foils and even kitesurf foils for wing Foiling together with the Sky Surf foil and Sky SUP foilboards. The wing allows you to launch in places that would be impossible to launch a kite and gives you freedom to carve and ride waves in a way not quite possible with a windsurfer or kite. It doesn’t replace any of these sports, but is a great addition to your quiver of fun toys!


Thxs Sky!

Check the product pages for deatiled information about the Sky Surf, Sky SUP LTD, Sky SUP and Sky SUP Windsurf:

Sky Surf



Sky SUP Windsurf Edition