At A Glance
Slingshot have jumped into the foil game all guns blazing this year. The launch of their excellent Foil Academy has come alongside a totally new concept in learning to foilboard. If you are reading this then please join the Foil Academy now; regardless of what foil you use it is packed with amazingly helpful free videos and tutorials to help you learn to hydrofoil.
Slingshot have also taken a totally different approach to learning to hydrofoil, instead of a low aspect wing option they use the same wings and fuselage but offer different mast lengths so you can start off with a short mast and then gradually step up as you get more used to riding the board.
This new approach is starting to take off and with good reason. The most scary part about learning to foil board is when the foil first starts to fly. Inevitably it will fly all the way up the length of the mast before ditching you into the sea in an unceremonious heap! It’s quite scary suddenly being 3m above the water (your eyes are already almost 2m up in the air depending on how tall you are). That extra metre from the mast is terrifying and has put plenty of people off learning to foil completely.
Our crash test dummy on the new set up, Mary, who works at the magazine tried to learn on a low aspect wing with a full sized mast two years ago and after a few sessions ended up a quivering heap vowing never to foil board ever again. The fear of the sharp wings and mast and the big crashes were just too much. Now she is ripping around on a much shorter mast having a blast much to her surprise.
As you get used to the speed you can step up the mast size until you get used to the full-length mast. It’s an innovative concept that shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to learning to foil board.
In terms of build quality we were very impressed, the wings are beautifully crafted, although watch out they are razor sharp. You get a piece of very fine sandpaper included with the package, which got used almost instantly after two of our crew had cut feet just from walking within a ten yard radius!
If you are learning be sure to detune the wings so they aren’t lethal, if you want it to go fast and furious because you already know how to ride then leave the wings as is and enjoy some serious pace.
The Alien Air board is a fantastic piece of craftsmanship, beautifully made and with plenty of volume to make it easy to ride when not on the foil. There is also a lot of width in the rear of the board again keeping things stable when off the foil. All told there are 11 bolts to put the set up together, some parts are moulded to fit and it goes together like a glove. Due to the mouldings there is no danger of putting it together incorrectly, although take care to read the instructions the first time you do to make sure you get all the bolts in the right places as they are different sizes.
The package includes a 35.5-inch mast, board, wings fuselage and a bag for both the wings, fuselage and the mast. It’s all very well put together. The smaller masts for learning can be bought separately and if you are learning to ride we highly recommend these.
On The Water
The Alien Air board is fantastic, it’s so big and stable with plenty of volume it makes those first steps riding the foil an absolute breeze. Initially you need to get used to riding the board with the wing under the water before you start trying to fly and the Alien Air makes this easy. You’ll also find those first tacks and gybes much easier when you are on the surface and not flying.
The board is perfectly shaped to deal with the occasional touch down; plenty of nose rocker and steep bevelling on the rails should ensure any brief encounters with the water are not terminal! With options to run the straps parallel, in a Y configuration or strapless there are plenty of choices in terms of how to set everything up.
We loved the options of the smaller masts too, for teaching this is fantastic and it suddenly takes the fear factor away from learning to foil, which is a huge barrier to entry. The Taxi 15” mast is really easy to use and you can manoeuvre the board around without too much effect from the foil. Big crashes are kept to a minimum and on flatter water you can even get your first flights in.
As you progress you can then step up to the 24” Touch and Go mast which will help you start to foil in choppier water and then progress onto the 30” Solo mast by which time you should be a fairly confident foiler. Running with the 35.5” full mast the Hover Glide NF2 is a formidable set up.
It cranks upwind with ease and the wings have a surprising turn of pace for something that you can teach a complete beginner on. What Slingshot have cracked here is the ability to make something so accessible and easy to ride yet still pack a ton of performance in at the top end. For you as a consumer that’s great as you can learn on it, but also master more advanced manoeuvres and progress to a high level before you feel like you need something extra.
The wings themselves are very stable and have a low foiling speed with a reasonable top speed too. The fuselage length offers a good balance between stability and manoeuvrability. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed ripping around on this set up and are looking forwards to many more sessions on it!
The Hover Glide NF2 set up with the Alien Air is a formidable piece of equipment, get the training mast package and effectively learn and progress without ever feeling like you are being held back. If you are beyond the learning stages then just go straight in for the full 35.5” mast package to have a very fast and stable set up that you’ll have hours of fun shredding around on.
Well crafted and designed the Alien Air board is an excellent weapon to have in your arsenal, offering plenty of float and volume with a modern shape perfect for learning to hydrofoil. The overall set up with the well designed and fit moulded parts and bag make this a sound choice for anyone, for the beginners out there the short mast program coupled with the Foil Academy make this a tough choice to resist.
This review was in Issue 61 of IKSURFMAG.
By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!