Starboard Air Foil : inflatable board with innovative deck foil mount, told by its creator RaĂșl Delgado

24th November 2022

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As with stand-up paddleboards, inflatable boards have made their way into the world of wingfoil boards. If most of these boards offer a foil mount on a plate located under the board, the Starboard Air Foil has a mounting plate on the deck of the board! How is this possible and how this idea was born? We tell you everything with the creator of the Air Foil, RaĂșl Delgado.

Behind this particular board with its “hole” and its top plate, there is also a particular story! The Starboard Air Foil was born in 2020 during lockdown, as RaĂșl Delgado tells us:

“The Air Foil is the result of combining ideas with Tiesda You. We worked together on it since the idea was conceived until we applied for the patents. We were flat water pump foiling during the COVID lockdown in 2020. And we were using a PVC+carbon plate that was very thin and lightweight, yet very strong.

RaĂșl Delgado flat water pump foiling during the COVID lockdown

One day, after pump foiling for hours, we got tired and decided to try and figure out if we could wing foil that plate. It was already strong enough to foil, but it didn’t float because it was so small. So we decided to attach the plate to an inflatable board to provide some buoyancy. It took us one use of the new prototype to realize that we had built the best inflatable foilboard ever. A board where you foil the plate, and the inflatable just helps with floatation before taking off. We liked the performance of the board so much that we immediately applied for a patent in 3 different countries. We had a “golden egg” in our hands.”

RaĂșl Delgado testing the first prototype of the Air Foil

A golden egg indeed, because very few other wing boards (maybe even none?) can boast of allowing the rider’s foot to be less than 2cm from the foil! The Air Foil feature a patent-pending top plate technology on the standing area: the foil mast is mounted directly to the solid standing area on the deck to offer wing riders direct feedback from the foil and instant response. This all translates into more control and a better flight sensation.

Trevor Tunnington and Raul Delgado with the Starboard Air Foil and Freewing Go and Air V2

We asked RaĂșl about his own experience on the Air Foil:

“The connection between the rider and the foil on an Air Foil board is more direct than it is on any other board in the market. The distance between the feet and foil is less than 2cm, which makes for amazing responsiveness and maneuverability. It is such a game changing sensation, that it made us reevaluate all of our composite boards and the way they are designed, which helped us improve the foil connection there as well.”

But then, how do you mount the foil on the top plate, which is by definition on the deck of the board? The inflatable board has a “hole” around the foil box, large enough to be able to adjust the position of the mast within 5cm. Through this hole, the foil mast can be fixed directly to the plate located on the deck of the board. The plate is then tapered and covered in EVA for more comfort underfoot, while the hole is filled with an EPP plugg to improve the water flow below the board. We asked RaĂșl Delgado what the challenges were to design this one of a kind board:

“We have many boards with “holes” in them”: Windsurfing boards with fast boxes or daggerboards through them. And we also have Double Chamber boards. So this was not a new concept for us. But we did build another prototype with a plate on the bottom and one with a fast box through the board to test and compare. Actually, the first inflatable foilboard with those other concepts was built by Starboard back in 2017. But we never felt like they were good enough, hence why we didn’t launch them to the market.

Further prototypes of the Air Foil

For us, the actual challenge of building the Air Foil was figuring out how to mount the plate onto the board. Did we want to glue it, screw it or slide it in place? Was it going to be fixed to the board or modular? And we had to design a new system to mount foil to the board, since this was a completely new concept. But the core idea had been defined: the plate was on top of the board. It was just a matter of fine tuning from there onwards.”

You can also SUP foil with the Air Foil, like Clement Colmas in Maui

The result is that mounting the foil on the Air Foil is ultimately as simple as on other boards, simply different. We pointed this out to RaĂșl Delgado who explained to us:

“Yes, people are afraid of something that is new and innovative. And they have pointed out that the foil assembly system of the Air Foil is different. Well, of course it is different. But it also isn’t
 Think of it this way, instead of putting the plate under the board, we put it on top of the board. And instead of assembling the screws from the bottom of the board, you do it through the deck. But you will be using the same M6 screws and washers for the same type of top plate foils (165mm x 90mm) that you would with any other board.

The EPP plug

The plug serves a simple purpose. It completely covers the hole where the foil goes through the board and reduces the drag caused by hole. Otherwise, the turbulence and drag under the board make taking off much more difficult. Believe me, I’ve used the board without the plug several times and having the plug in place is just a day and night difference.

The general assembly is quite easy and simple. Once you have done it once, it is very straightforward. You can check this infographic that comes with every board, is also online, and details how to assemble the Air Foil board. And we did make a video to help explain the assembly to people and help visualize it.”

The Starboard Air Foil also feature some details that have already proven themselves on their SUP boards, like the Welded Rail Technology which creates a complete airtight, mechanically bonded seam without the risk of glue weakening over time. This makes Starboard inflatable boards stronger and longer lasting. The board is also equipped with an Rail Edge, a proprietary 3D elastomer compound that follows the contours of the board and creates a release edge that allows the boards to fully accelerate for better planing before taking off.

The Air Foil boards come equipped with 3 extra large footstraps and stainless steel helicoils insets. Because there is 18cm distance between the inserts, it allows you to have a wider footstrap span for better trim and control while foiling since you can micro-adjust your feet’s position. 4 different positions for the footstraps in the front and 5 different positions for the strap in the back are available.

You can also SUP foil with the Air Foil, like Clement Colmas in Maui

Finally, the Air Foil is delivered equipped with its bag specially designed for the Air Foil board, which comes with extra pockets for Hydro Foil gear and have enough space to fit an Air Foil board, a hydro foil set, a pump and a FreeWing comfortably.

The Starboard Air Foil is available in 4 sizes, so ou can choose your board based on your level and weight: 7’0” – 169L ; 6’5” – 146L ; 5’8” – 122L ; and a new size for more experienced riders who still want to benefit from all the advantages of an inflatable board and from the top plate technology of the Starboard Air Foil: 4’11” – 74L.

Wingfoil surfing in Pataya with the Starboard Air Foil and the Freewing Air V2

Find out more about Starboard:
Official Website / Facebook / Instagram

About the Author

Laurie Montagner

From SUP Racing to wing foiling, through windsurfing, wakesurfing and surfing, you will always find Laurie somewhere in the South-West of France. Passionate about watersports, Laurie spends her time surfing, whether on the wave... or online! Laurie is indeed a specialist in social media marketing and web development, from writing lines of code to making professional videos. Very much a competitor, you've probably already met her on one of the SUP and wing events all over France!

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