First out of the block with boards designed specifically (but not exclusively) for use with the Foil Drive Gen2 system are AXIS. A collaborative project between Adrian Roper (AXIS), Jamie Wise (Foil Drive Australia) and Dominic Hoskyns (Foil Drive Europe), we caught up with Dom and Adrian to hear about the design considerations that went into this new board range…

Photos: @rafasoulart

Hey Dom. What design considerations have been factored into these boards that make them so Foil Drive friendly?

Dom: Primarily, they are designed to be VERY quick to build up board speed and get onto the plane – this is the most important design factor for Foil Drive. The easier you can build up board speed, the easier it is to get on foil. The most obvious design feature is the overall long, narrow shape. This, in combination with the flat hull in the rear half of the board, a relatively wide tail, and very little rocker allows the board to plane as quick as possible. A rounded, slightly domed nose with a bit more volume than most downwind-specific boards allows you to push down on the nose when accelerating, preventing the nose from sinking, but if it does sink, it pops up quickly and cleanly without any wobble. The rails were the only part that we weren’t happy with in the initial design. We started with high vertical sides and tucked rails, but this made the rails catch and stick to the water when carving. We then moved to a deep ‘V’, but this made the boards too thick for the amount of volume we wanted for each size. Jamie Wise suggested a more surf-oriented rail design, making them more rounded in the top section, but including a slight bevel to connect them to the hull. Adrian worked his magic by blending them perfectly into the nose and tail and that finished off the design perfectly. The rail design actually turned the boards into what was initially a very specific prone DW board into a really versatile design that also works incredibly well as a mid-length surfboard. 

Signal quality has been a talking point with carbon boards, how have you worked around that?

Dom: We tested all AXIS boards extensively for signal compatibility and found that the construction of AXIS boards gives excellent signal without the need for any modifications. The vast majority of carbon boards work fine with Foil Drive. There are actually very few carbon boards that have signal issues, but even these will be 100% fine with the recently released retro-fit external antenna.

Adrian: The signal has always been pretty good. A key point on the signal is to allow the signal to get into and out of the board. We fit the boxes with adhesive rather than carbon, have a vent plug in the deck also with no carbon around it, and also have a window between the boxes and on the deck in the carbon laminate. All this allows for a great signal.

Do these boards have cross discipline potential without the Foil Drive system connected?

Dom: Yes, definitely. I have used the 5’ very successfully as both a mid-length prone board and as a light wind wingboard.

Foil Drive Gen2 was only relatively recently released. When did the R&D rotations start with these boards?


Adrian: I can’t remember exactly when we started, but it was months before the Gen2 was launched. I think it was around July 2023. We were testing with the existing pump board in regards to signal, with modifications to the laminate. We designed and revised over a few weeks and built samples that we sent to Dominic for testing, also to New Zealand and we had it at the Merimbula Classic in Australia. They got used a lot and were rated as by far the easiest to get up on.

The “assisted age” is certainly now with us. Do you think we’ll see more gear that’s aligned to assisted riding?

Dom: Yes, definitely. Because of its versatility Foil Drive seems to appeal to almost everyone. Although Foil Drive can be used with any type of board, there’s nothing going to be quite as good as a board that is designed specifically for what you want to do. As a result, we are already seeing many other brands coming out with their own ‘Foil Drive’ board designs, and I’m sure this is just the start of what is to come. 

Foil Drive and AXIS have something in common in that both brands always seem to be slightly ahead of the curve. Any current secrets you want to divulge?!

Dom: I’d love to spill my guts and divulge all the secrets, but alas I can’t! Needless to say, Foil Drive will continue to improve their existing products and innovate new ones. Our aim is to enable foiling to become more accessible for beginners, as well as helping existing foilers to push the limits of their performance. Foil Drive (the original foil assist) was created by Paul Martin – his ideas are what everyone else in the foil assist market is striving either to copy or to produce their own version. All I can say at the moment is that he’s got plenty more ideas that will make sure Foil Drive continues to lead the charge in this very exciting market.  

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