First off...I'm deff no expert but thought it may be worth sharing some of my experiences with starting out on a hydro foil board for a complete beginners perspective and honestly it's not as easy as it looks.
We've all seen the video's of the pro's effortlessly gliding a metre above the water making it look oh so easy, well believe me it ain't....not in the beginning at least!
Obviously it helps if you are a competent kitesurfer but to be honest it really is like starting kitesurfing all over again but that's part of the big attraction. Something new and exciting, a totally new challenge.
I bought a used Sroka foil off a friend who was looking to upgrade to a new race wing, the Sroka is a pretty good setup to start with...so I'm told.
My first session was a total disaster, I had my first go back in February on a freezing winters day, I even had gloves on that day (I rearely use gloves but it was extremely cold easterlies) which did not help. Just getting your feet in the front straps at the beginning is hard enough..it's hard to get the board up on an edge so you can get your feet in. Then there is the whole balance thing, the board just wants to shoot up into the sky..it's alive!
It's advisable to wear all the protective gear you have at the start i.e. Impact Vest/Helmet/Boots/Gum Shield...everything :-) (both the wing and mast are razor sharp) as this thing will try it's best to kill you. I'll tell you what, go stand on your kitchen table and then imagine traveling at speed only to be thrown with force into the water several feet below and you will get some idea of what it is like!
After each session it really felt like I'd been in a car crash, aching from head to toe from the multiple wipeouts but smiling like a fat kid in a sweet shop.
I found that 30mins was all I was interested in doing at the start (poss as it was a lot colder then) and many times I just did a quick 15mins and stopped as soon as I felt the progression was slowing. But then I had a few awesome moments up and flying and each session it has generally got better....not always but generally.
So far I have chosen mostly lighter wind days, using my 11m Renegade which has a huge wind range and plenty of de-power.
But lately I have been out in much lighter winds (as I'm starting to improve) and the sheer amount of apparent wind it can generate is quite phenomenal. Today there was barely enough to keep the kite in the sky when I launched the kite, however once up on a plane your off and away upwind. Then the next problem is how to go back down wind as it really is "too easy" to go upwind.
When way out the back today I fluffed a turn and whilst trying to restart I suddenly became aware again how little wind there actually was...the kite just slowly fell into the water...there was no way I was ever going to relaunch it so I started a long swim back for the shore, but I was stoked anyway..just to be out in so little wind.
I checked later and the wind was dropping rapidly as soon as I had gone in, it was probably about 6-7mp when I was out...on an 11m LEI kite!
Next I'm really looking forward to getting the new Shinn/Zeeko Hydro Foil set up asap and mastering the downwind tacks and gybes etc
I'm absolutely hooked, OK I can't wait till the next big storm with loads of swell to use my trusty surfboard but I'm loving this so much now I'm happy with 12mph for now!
So to summarise, it really really is amazing, it's extremely hard to put into words what the feeling is like, silky smooth, knife through butter etc etc .....but you will have to try it for yourself and see if you can describe it any better.