Wind foils of course have a lot of strength to endure. Stiffness of the mast and fuselage is very important for both performance and stability. Roughly speaking, there are 2 materials used to make the mast, aluminum and carbon. Roughly speaking, all the foils in the price range to say €1,200 are always carried out with a mast of aluminium and the foils that are (still) more expensive often have a carbon mast.
What are the differences? And is it really necessary to buy a carbon mast? Below you can read our advice.
Why is a stiff mast important?
There are 2 reasons why it is important to have a mast that is as stiff as possible. Because what happens under your board during wind foiling?
1) The mast is (i.e. it’s about its own length of ash) due to the pressure exerted on the wind foil, which means that the fuselage no longer goes straight through the water. This then comes at the expense of the speed and affects the functioning of the profile of the wings (the flow angle of the water is also no longer at odds with the wings). It then feels a bit like light turbulence.
2) The mast bends during wind foiling, because you put pressure on one side or simply by moving your feet/weight on your board. This bending makes you feel unstable and nervous, which does not promote controlled wind foils.
So the stiffer the mast, the better the performance of the wind foil and perhaps even more importantly all the more stable (and therefore more fun and easier) it is to (learn) wind foil.
Cheap is often expensive buy
The wind foils in the price range up to about € 900,- often have a construction that is not rigid. Our experience is that the materials used and especially the mast are not stiff. These are the wind foils offered on marketplace a jab with the description that it is a ‘nice foil to learn’.
As mentioned above, our experience is that it is more difficult and less fun to learn the wind foiling!
Carbon vs Aluminium
Starboard is the only brand that has both a carbon and an aluminium variant in different lengths. Nice to juxtaposing starboard’s masts and experience the differences. Starboard’s carbon foils are approximately €900 more expensive than the variant with an aluminium mast (the fuselage and wings are 100% identical). So nice comparison whether it’s worth that extra € 900.
Carbon gives more feeling
While foiling with the carbon mast, we feel that the mast bends when you put a lot of pressure. The mast seems to be ‘putting’. Actually, just like a big fin on a slalom board. We experience this as fine, it gives you nl feedback what is happening and you can also use this bending with little wind to push a little with your feet, which keeps you up longer. These are qualities that particularly consider match foilers important. Bending the mast is limited and the carbon mast does not show noticeable.
The mast is narrower and less thick than starboard’s alunimium mast, which means that it will probably be just a bit faster with GPS. The big advantage of carbon is that of course it does not corrode. It’s nice if you wind a lot in salt water.
Aluminium has slightly more resistance
The alu masts are very stiff, during foiling they seem to bend less than the carbon mast. At least we hardly feel it. This mast gives less feedback and you also don’t feel like the foil ‘is moving’. It feels very solid. If you sail on the edge of the wind > foil (so that’s with a lot of wind, 16-18 knots) then the mast seems to be tordering a bit. Not much, but the foil then becomes a little unquieter.
The aluminium masts are wider and also thicker than the carbon masts. During bobbing away you will feel a very light fibration in the foil. Once you plane and go up in the air, you won’t feel it anymore, but this confirms to us that the aerodynamics of this masts are slightly less than the much more expensive carbon mast. This will therefore this results into a lower end speed. By the way, the aluminium mast does not feel any less fast than the carbon variant.
The difference price is about €900,-. However, we experience the differences as very small. Sure the competition surfer goes for the best, so it will definitely go for the carbon variant. A recreational wind foiler and also the novice race foiler can get out of the way with the aluminium mast. Of the money you save, you can buy a dedicated wind foil sail, such as the Severne Foil Glide. That’s more to you than a piece of carbon.