The last event of the 2023 PWA World Tour is set to begin in just two days time in Japan where the Men's and Women's Slalom world titles will be decided between the 10th-14th November. Just ahead of the Fly! ANA Yokosuka, Miura Windsurf World Cup we are delighted to be able to announce F4 Foils as a new member of the PWA and we recently caught up with them for an interview to find out more about them, which you can read below:
Hey, firstly can you tell us a little bit more about F4 Foils? Your philosophy and idea(s) behind the company?
Our journey began after witnessing the awe-inspiring America's Cup race in San Francisco, where we marveled at boats flying on hydrofoils. This spectacle ignited the passion of Chris and Al, motivating them to introduce this incredible experience to the world of windsurfing. The path was far from easy, marked by a relentless cycle of trial and error, coupled with extensive research and development efforts, all aimed at bringing foiling to windsurfing. At the core of our company is the unwavering commitment to elevating the sport and delivering an extraordinary rider experience.
While racing is undeniably woven into our roots, with many of us being former and current racers, our true mission is to infuse F4's "racer edge" technology and innovation into a more user-friendly product. We prioritize our end-users, collaborating closely with them and our team riders, taking into account the diverse and amazing locations and conditions where our products are used. This approach is what enables us to craft the exceptional products for which we are renowned.
You started the company in 2008 - what made you decide that now was the right time to join the PWA?
Starting the company in 2008, we embarked on a journey that was deeply rooted in our passion for windsurfing. Most of us at F4 are windsurfers through and through, having grown up with the sport, raced competitively, and continue to race to this day. However, over the years, we couldn't help but notice that windsurfing was losing momentum. The bustling days of the 80s and 90s, when places like Coyote Point would be packed with enthusiasts, had transformed into a much quieter scene. In recent years, having a dozen people on the water was considered "crowded."
There were various factors contributing to this decline, from the increasing costs and complexities associated with windsurfing to the lack of innovation, evolution, and new challenges that could reignite the passion of windsurfers. The sport needed a fresh injection of energy, excitement, and stimulation. We like to believe that windfoiling has brought some of that energy, excitement and stimulation back into the sport.
The PWA has been tirelessly working to keep the spirit of windsurfing alive. They've poured immense effort into rekindling the sport, and the results are inspiring. F4 is proud to have several team riders and supporters actively participating in the PWA events. Thanks to the combined efforts of the PWA and the windsurfing industry, we've started to witness signs of growth in the sport we love.
As a company, F4 benefits from the exposure we receive through the PWA's endeavors, and we felt it was our duty to give back to the windsurfing community and help steer the sport back onto a growth path. Joining the PWA and actively supporting young windsurfers and local sailing clubs worldwide is our way of contributing to the windsurfing renaissance and spreading the stoke of this incredible sport.
You and your team have a wealth of experience when it comes to developing foils… can you tell us a little bit about the development of your foils and which sailors do you work alongside on the World Tour?
Our team brings a wealth of experience to the art of developing cutting-edge foils. Our journey in foil development is a testament to our commitment to pushing the boundaries of what's achievable in windsurfing. We believe that our foils are only as good as the collaborative effort that goes into creating them.
At the core of our success is the teamwork and dedication of our R&D department. They're truly world-class, and their passion for the sport is unmatched.
Windsurfing may be perceived as an individual sport, but we firmly believe in the power of team spirit and teamwork. Chris, our lead designer, sparks the creative process with his visionary ideas. The design concepts then undergo a high-tech software and manufacturing process. However, nothing can replace the crucial input and validation that riders provide.
We're fortunate to have a fantastic team of Pro riders, test riders, and dedicated end-users who rigorously test our foils and components. In this journey, there are ups and downs, but that's the nature of any R&D process. Our PWA team members, including Jenna Gibson, Sarah Jackson, Jordy Vonk, Johan Søe, Ennio dal Pont, and Scotty Stallman, alongside our National riders, relentlessly push our gear to its limits daily. Their feedback is a driving force behind the development of our race platform, and we work diligently to incorporate their insights and innovations into our entire product line.
Ultimately, we believe that our customers can feel and enjoy the passion and energy invested by our entire team. It's this collective effort that makes our foils not just high-performing, but a true embodiment of our love for the sport and dedication to delivering exceptional products.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the composition of the foils? How they are made? Where they are produced etc?
The composition and production process of our foils are quite fascinating, although we'll have to keep some trade secrets under wraps. At a high level, here's how we bring these incredible products to life:
Concept - It all starts with, Chris, and our dedicated R&D team. They work their magic to outline the objectives and generate innovative ideas for new foils and products.
Design and Engineering - Once the concept is solidified, it undergoes an intricate design and engineering process. This step involves endless calculations, analysis, and simulations to ensure the foils' performance and durability meet our high standards.
Machining the Molds - The final designs and plans make their way to the machine shop, where CNC machines meticulously cut the molds. These molds are crucial for shaping the foils and ensuring they meet the precise specifications we've set.
Manufacturing Magic - We have different molding and manufacturing processes tailored to various products and stages of development. These processes enable us to strike a balance between cost-effectiveness and rapid iteration, allowing us to fine-tune our products until they reach their final release version.
Factories in Europe and Asia - We take pride in our hands-on approach. In our European factory, we meticulously craft the race gear and foils by hand, ensuring the utmost precision and quality. This hands-on approach is reserved for the production of our premium R series F4 foils and F4 boards. Simultaneously, our Asian factory handles high-volume production to meet the demands of our enthusiastic customers around the world.
Did you expect foiling to take off in the manner that it has - particularly in the last few years?
If we need to be cheeky - YES! We have worked on foiling since day one, and everyone expects and wants what they work on to become successful. Once you try foiling, you can't go back; it's addictive in an amazing way, and the possibilities are endless. With modern foils, the learning curve is achievable for anyone, the experience is exhilarating, and it's no wonder we saw the growth come back into windsurfing. Foiling is also partly responsible for a spur in other water sports, and while we expect the growth to normalize a bit over the next couple of seasons, foiling is clearly a key driver in the growth of water sports, and we are still very early on in its innovation cycle."
What are the aspirations for F4 Foils over the coming years?
F4 Foils has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a fin company. Over the years, we've evolved into the industry's foremost innovator and a key player in the market. Our ambitions for the coming years are nothing short of exciting.
In the last few years we have made significant investments across our operations. We've expanded our talented team, so we have the best minds working together to drive our vision forward. We've also made substantial enhancements and dramatically expanded our product lineup, utilizing cutting-edge technology and materials to stay at the forefront of innovation. The establishment of a new state-of-the-art factory in the European Union marks a significant milestone in our journey. Perhaps one of the most anticipated developments on the horizon is our forthcoming product release, which is going to be the most extensive in the history of our company.
F4 Foils is in the midst of a dynamic expansion and diversification strategy, reaching into multiple market segments. Our motivation, investment, and expansion plan for the next three years is nothing short of aggressive.
Where can people get their hands on F4 Foils?
If you're looking to get your hands on F4 Foils, you're in luck! Over the past three years, F4 has undergone a transformative shift in its business approach, all with the aim of making high-quality windsurfing equipment more accessible to enthusiasts around the world.
Windsurfing has a global following, and the internet has changed the way consumers access information and shop for their gear. F4's mission is clear: to provide top-notch products and an exceptional customer experience at an incredibly competitive price point. After all, customers who invest in this sport rightfully expect nothing less than outstanding customer support, expertise, and overall satisfaction.
F4 has adopted a two-pronged approach:
Direct Sales - No matter where you are, you can access our full range of products on our website. To ensure a seamless experience, we have a dedicated team of F4 experts based in the EU and North America, covering all time zones. This means you can rely on timely assistance and support whenever you need it. We ship in-stock items on the same or next business day.
Value-Added Resellers - In addition to direct sales, F4 collaborates with a select group of value-added resellers who are fully qualified to provide the same level of expertise and care as F4 itself. These partners are passionate practitioners of the sport, and they offer an added layer of support, insight, and personalization. F4 values these partnerships not just for business but also as a source of feedback and information. They help us take into account local use cases and conditions, ensuring that our products continue to evolve and improve.
F4 has truly changed the game when it comes to acquiring windsurfing equipment. You can find out more on our website @ https://www.f4foils.com/