Flying just feet above the water stands proud Andrew “Nemo” Niemann, a junior PLNU student and member of the PLNU surf team, on his hydrofoil surfboard. Hydrofoiling is taking the surfing world by storm and Andrew is on the forefront of the sport that is gaining traction quickly.
Andrew explains the concept behind hydrofoil surfing as, “a surfboard that’s round, flat, and wide with a mount that connects the board with a mast that connects a fuselage with the front wing to the back smaller wing.”
“Essentially, [hydrofoiling] is a wing that glides underwater that’s the same system that airplane wings use and how pelicans fly,” Andrew says. “It’s a wing that’s attached a few feet beneath your board that allows you to glide above the water with no resistance.”
Andrew became interested in the new sport because it’s something that he has always wanted to try ever since seeing a friend ride one in his hometown of Huntington Beach. He approached his friend telling him he wanted to try it and ever since he caught his first wave, his passion for hydrofoiling was ignited. “I got hooked,” says Andrew.
Andrew sees the sport of hydrofoiling continuing to grow in the surfing world. “It’s grown a lot this past year. It’s growing exponentially because people have easy access to it. You can order it online and get it within a week.”
Lucky for Andrew, the waves that break right off the Point Loma campus are some of the best waves for learning and growing a different skill set than surfing. The sport may seem similar on the outside, but it’s a completely different game once you step foot on the board.
“You surf waves that you normally wouldn’t want to surf. A good wave is a one-to-three feet deeper wave that breaks soft, whitewashes, then stops breaking because that allows you catch the wave, stand up, and once you have the board up on wing, you can keep going and glide.”
The sport of hydrofoiling Sunset Cliffs didn’t originate with surfers, however, the sport was brought to Sunset Cliffs by sailors.
“The original guys who hydrofoiled the cliffs went straight from sailing to hydrofoiling. They know how to surf but they are sailors and took up hydrofoiling instead of surfing.”
Andrew says he could foresee the future of hydrofoiling in surf competitions, but isn’t sure if the sport will head that direction.
Andrew describes the feeling of hydrofoiling as, “having the most perfect, glassy wave like sheet glass where there’s not a drop of water out of place. You’re gliding down the wave with no resistance. You’re floating above the water. It’s like a red hot knife slicing through butter.”