Sean Poynter’s Top 5 Tips to Get Started on your Sup Foil

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Starboard team rider’s Sean Poynter finds a sweet spot on his 6’10 Starboard Hypernut foil prototype on a sunny afternoon on Amelia Island in Florida.

Sean Poynter Starboard foil photo Alex King
Sean Poynter’s sense of style on the wave is always top-notch.  Finding that same ease on the foil is no surprise.  Photo by:  Adam King @adamkingphoto

“It combines flying with riding waves, it’s pretty insane to say the least.”  – Sean Poynter

When we asked Sean how he felt about the new sup foil popularity taking over among the pros, he was all in.  He says, “I’ve been surfing for 17 years and have practically felt every experience that you can on a wave, from small wave riding, to big waves, to barrels to airs to turns and I have never experienced any feeling like this before. It combines flying with riding waves, it’s pretty insane to say the least.”

Beyond the magical, Sean also sees benefits to a sup foil’s practical applications as he says, “On the practical side of it, it takes those small days and makes them work while introducing a whole new ride. Foils you don’t really need waves, you just need some swell energy, so it opens the doors for a lot more rides in new places. It’s rad.”

Starboard Air foil Sean Poynter photo Alex King
Sean’s advice for the foil: Stay centered over the stringer and take it up slowly.   Photo by:  Adam King @adamkingphoto

Sean Poynter’s Top 5 Tips on Getting Started on your Foil:

Try behind a boat or jet ski first to get the feel for it, if you can. Having the rope to catch and balance yourself with makes things way easier. It’s a great way to ease into foiling as you limit risk and increase success of flying.

Go to a deep water spot with small waves and no one out. Really this is the best option. It’s dangerous to be around people and it can be dangerous to you and the safety of your foil if you go into shallow waters. More water, more room for depth of foil and most likely less aggressive waves of they’re small. Smaller the more flatter the waves, the better.

Front foot needs to be directly over the stringer. This is a little unusual for a surfer because our front foot is usually always off center but in order to stabilize yourself you’ll need both feet directly in the center of the board -over the stringer. This is going to help prevent the board from falling to one side and you falling into the foil -potentially.

Keep your weight centered. No toe or heal weight. It’s not like surfing where you’re rolling onto heals and toes to turn the board. Doing this on the foil will flip the board on its side and have the foil coming up at you. You want to set your line, position your feet correctly and then get up to flying once you do, eliminating any side to side weight shift. Only forward and backward weight shift.

Take it slowly. Don’t try and get up to flying immediately. Get a feel for the lift and the reaction of the foil from the weight shifting. Once you do, you can play around more with getting higher and higher. See first to just fly it above the water consistently before lifting anymore.

Standup Journal offers more Sup Surfing Tips from Sean in his How To Analyze a Surf Break video and others you can find in our comprehensive Sup Guide , breaking down the mechanics of paddling, surfing and gear for your needs.


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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.