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Unifoil are a South African company who have been designing hi-performance hydrofoils since 2014. Working together with their team riders, they develop some of the most technically advanced foils on the market, with a constant design R&D lab innovating every day in hydrodynamic research on profiles and outlines of hydrofoils combined with the most advanced technologies in carbon fibers and production methods. The Unifoil team have some of the best foils riders on the planet on their team, and a large range of hydrofoils wings, parts and stabilizers to match their team (and their customers!) expectations. The Unifoil Vortex slots in as a super-light and stiff piece of carbon fiber designed to send the sharpest turns with the maximum speed. We had the 150 on test with the 75cm mast and the 14” Flare stabilizer. Also worth mentioning is the quality of the cover bags which our foils arrived in – these are excellent and great to see brands putting so much effort into ensuring that gear is kept in a bombproof environment.
For the construction, the mast and baseplate are one-piece full carbon 75cm with standard 6mm closed holes. The split fuselage is mounted on the front wing with a conic carbon connection tighten with a single titanium screw, then the fuselage has multi-positional tail wing inserts. The mast is then connected on the front wing with a conic-mast insert and 2 screws with the tailwing mounted directly on the fuselage with 2 screws without a shim. All parts are built from high-modulus prepreg carbon and Once assembled together it looks like a single molded piece. This thing is really, really stiff and incredibly light. There´s absolutely no play in any connection. The pedestal mounting on the board is a classic closed-holes and, yes, you will have to unscrew it all over everytime, but it also means more durable.
Tests were run in 3-5 foot waves with two different boards, a 5´0 45 liter, and 4´2 28 liters. Paddling out on the foil is like paddling with a shortboard. It is the smallest hydro I rode so far and this thing is so thin and light that there´s absolutely no drag in the water. Pivoting, paddling at speed and catching a wave is effortless and there´s no early lift or lock-in tracking in the popup. You can pop up super quickly or adjust your tracking with a lot of ease, it is really close to a surf feeling. Up on your feet and as soon as you start flying the acceleration is insane. This foil goes really, really fast but needs solid speed and a good amount of wave power to fly – this is not a foil designed to catch whitewater reforms in small surf unless you are a really light rider.
Once you are riding and looking to initiate turns, the response on input is completely instantaneous but still predictable. Flying full speed in a straight line is super easy and you can go up super without even thinking of breaching. The power you get from the foil is really balanced and despite the high-performance characteristics, it is super accessible and easy compared to other high aspect wings. Entering the carve is predictable and you can set in really tight turns with an instant response. I really can’t stress enough that this foil really does feel close to riding a shortboard, the gradual lift and power combined with the instant turning response and overall balance will allow you to send more vertical, tighter and more radical maneuvers with a lot of ease even at maximum speed. Getting close to breaching is not really an issue as the foil dives down gradually at the slightest push on your front foot.
The glide is also very impressive, where the smaller surface area combined with the extremely thin profile and specific double concave bottom of the front wing makes the drag pretty imperceptible. Coming out of a wave full speed and get high on the mast, you will glide on really long distances and the stall point is surprisingly slow, around 10 knots for my weight. Pumping the Vortex 150 needs a good technique and a lot of speed but as soon as you combined those elements it is really efficient at pumping in between sections. It is not an ideal foil for dock starting or pumping long distances but it is possible for a light or very proficient rider.
Overall this is a very high-performance hydrofoil designed for intermediate to pro riders in tow in or in waves with solid power when prone surfing (or as a day foil for riders under 65kg). It provides a stable carving platform that is easy to ride, fast, ultra-responsive and very, very fun.