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Olaian is a brand from the Decathlon group specializing in the R&D of nautical products designed to suit the broader public market. They are designing and manufacturing surfboards, SUPs, kayaks, apparel and are now releasing a new range of foiling products with a pretty unique USP: a safety foil!
Out of the box, the foil has a unique design with soft rubber protecting the leading and trailing edges of the front wing, the stabilizer and the mast. The front wing and stabilizer are joined together in a closed frame to avoid injury when learning to foil. It is 100% designed for beginners who want to start their foiling journey.
The Olaian foil is super easy to assemble. The fuselage comes on top of the front wing and gets positioned with two M8 screws, while the stabilizer needs only one. Then the mast gets connected to the baseplate and fuselage with two M8 screws on each side. Altogether it is stiff and lighter than I expected, and the white matt and black anodized paint give it very nice finish.
The tests were conducted with a custom 5´0 board in 2-3ft waves. I’m 86 kilos and 186cm tall. A few really good surfer friends had a go at it too, to have another few points of view from foiling beginners.
Paddling out on the foil is comfortable, but you do feel the extra drag under the board, which is to be expected. It is lively but nothing consequential. Pivoting and catching a wave is pretty easy. The Olaian foil has a really graduated, balanced lift. It feels really easy to pop up on it – without lifting too early – and is then easy to trim. The flight is balanced and easy to manage, the foil responds slowly and provides exceptional stability. The small surface area combined with this extra thick profile gives the perfect combination between progressive lift and control. It will remain pretty slow and allows a beginner to enjoy their first rides more easily than anything we have tested to date. As soon as you push into turns you feel that little lag, but everything comes together in a wide turning range and extra pitch and yaw stability.
Due to its specific design the Olaian foil drags quite a fair amount of water. This feature makes it slow and ultra-predictable but doesn’t work for effective pumping. It needs to be kept in mind that this is a beginner’s foil, and it is fairly slow, but that's exactly what any beginner should really be asking for out of this foil.
The Olaian foil breaks some boundaries by entering the foiling world. It makes the sport extremely accessible to anyone who previously had foil anxiety, and will put any good surfer in flight mode within a few hours. The safety factor, the bulletproof construction and very reasonable price tag make this a really viable option for anyone looking to get into foiling.