What Is a Hydrofoil? [2023]

Have you ever wondered what makes a boat glide effortlessly through the water? The answer lies in the fascinating world of hydrofoils. In this article, we will dive deep into the world of hydrofoils and explore how they work, their benefits, and how to choose the right one for your hydrofoil boarding adventures.

Table of Contents

Quick Answer

A hydrofoil is a wing-like structure that is mounted beneath a boat or board, allowing it to lift out of the water at high speeds. This reduces drag and increases speed and efficiency. Hydrofoils are commonly used in various watercraft, including boats, surfboards, and kiteboards.


Quick Tips and Facts

  • Hydrofoils use the principles of lift and drag to elevate a watercraft above the water’s surface.
  • The first hydrofoil was invented by Enrico Forlanini in 1898.
  • Hydrofoils can reach speeds of up to 60 knots (69 mph).
  • Hydrofoil technology has been adapted for various watercraft, including boats, surfboards, and kiteboards.
  • Hydrofoil boarding is a thrilling and exhilarating water sport that combines surfing and flying.


Hydrofoils have a rich history that dates back over a century. The concept of using wings to lift a boat out of the water was first introduced by Enrico Forlanini in 1898. Since then, hydrofoil technology has evolved and been refined to enhance performance and efficiency.

How Does a Hydrofoil Work?

A hydrofoil works by utilizing the principles of lift and drag. When a hydrofoil is in motion, water flows over the curved surface of the foil, creating lift. This lift force counteracts the weight of the watercraft, allowing it to rise above the water’s surface.

The shape and design of the hydrofoil are crucial for its performance. The foil is typically curved on the top surface and flat on the bottom, similar to an airplane wing. This shape creates a pressure difference, with lower pressure on the top surface and higher pressure on the bottom. This pressure difference generates lift, propelling the watercraft forward.

Benefits of Using a Hydrofoil

Using a hydrofoil offers several benefits for water enthusiasts:

  1. Increased Speed: Hydrofoils reduce drag by lifting the watercraft out of the water, allowing it to glide smoothly and reach higher speeds.

  2. Improved Efficiency: By reducing drag, hydrofoils make watercraft more fuel-efficient, saving both money and the environment.

  3. Enhanced Maneuverability: Hydrofoils provide better control and maneuverability, allowing riders to make sharp turns and navigate through challenging conditions.

  4. Smooth Ride: Hydrofoils minimize the impact of waves and choppy water, providing a smoother and more comfortable ride.

  5. Thrilling Experience: Hydrofoil boarding combines the excitement of surfing with the exhilaration of flying, offering a unique and thrilling water sport experience.

Choosing the Right Hydrofoil

When choosing a hydrofoil, there are several factors to consider:

  1. Watercraft Type: Determine the type of watercraft you will be using the hydrofoil with, such as a boat, surfboard, or kiteboard. Different watercraft may require specific hydrofoil designs.

  2. Skill Level: Consider your skill level as a hydrofoil rider. Some hydrofoils are designed for beginners, while others are more suitable for advanced riders.

  3. Foil Design: Pay attention to the foil design, including the shape, size, and materials used. These factors can affect the hydrofoil’s performance and durability.

  4. Price Range: Set a budget for your hydrofoil purchase. Prices can vary depending on the brand, materials, and features of the hydrofoil.

Hydrofoil Brands and Products

There are several reputable hydrofoil brands and products available on the market. Here are a few popular options:

Brand Product Price
Slingshot Hover Glide Hydrofoil $$$$
Lift Foils eFoil Electric Hydrofoil $$$$$
Naish Hover Surf Ascend Hydrofoil $$$
Cabrinha Hi:Rise Varial Hydrofoil $$$

Shop Slingshot on:

Shop Lift Foils on:

Shop Naish on:

Shop Cabrinha on:


a man water skiing

What is the purpose of a hydrofoil?

The purpose of a hydrofoil is to lift a watercraft out of the water, reducing drag and increasing speed and efficiency. Hydrofoils are commonly used in boats, surfboards, and kiteboards to enhance performance and provide a smoother ride.

Read more about “What is the purpose of a hydrofoil?”

What is the effect of a hydrofoil?

The effect of a hydrofoil is to improve the watercraft’s speed, efficiency, and maneuverability. By lifting the watercraft out of the water, hydrofoils reduce drag and allow for smoother navigation through various water conditions.

Read more about “How do hydrofoils float? …”

What is the difference between a ferry and a hydrofoil?

A ferry is a type of watercraft that transports passengers and vehicles across bodies of water. A hydrofoil, on the other hand, refers to the wing-like structure that is mounted beneath a watercraft to lift it out of the water. While some ferries may use hydrofoil technology to increase speed and efficiency, not all ferries are hydrofoils.

Read more about “What is the difference between a ferry and a hydrofoil?”

What is a hydrofoil in a river?

A hydrofoil in a river refers to a watercraft equipped with hydrofoils that is specifically designed for navigating river conditions. River hydrofoils are often used for recreational purposes, such as river surfing or exploring river systems.


Hydrofoils are a game-changer in the world of water sports. They offer increased speed, improved efficiency, enhanced maneuverability, and a thrilling experience. When choosing a hydrofoil, consider factors such as watercraft type, skill level, foil design, and price range. With the right hydrofoil, you can take your hydrofoil boarding adventures to new heights.

For more information on hydrofoils and other hydrofoil boarding topics, check out these articles on Hydrofoiling™:


Shop Slingshot on:

Shop Lift Foils on:

Shop Naish on:

Shop Cabrinha on:

Shop Hydrofoil Accessories on:

Books on Hydrofoiling:

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