Sports | August 21, 2017 2:18 pm

Hydrofoiling: Silicon Valley’s Most Popular Extreme Water Sport

The sport combines kitesurfing and America's Cup sailing.

Silicon Valley isn’t just a tech mecca teeming with computer nerds anymore. According to the New York Times, the Bay Area’s biggest brains are all about extreme water sports—particularly hydrofoiling, or “foiling.”

To the uninitiated, foiling can be accomplished on a kiteboard, with a bottom tricked out like an America’s Cup ship—pulled along with the accouterment that makes a kitesurfer go. Foilers can reach speeds of up to 40 mph, while their boards glide two feet above the surface of the water.

But it’s not just for the surferati. According to the Times, Bay Area and Hawaiian shops are affixing foils to the bottoms of stand-up paddleboards and even surfboards, which get some help from a tiny motor.

Props go to Don Montague, a foil-maker and inventor, for launching the craze. He has Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, along with former Google exec Eric Schmidt, backing his foil-making company. (In 2013, Montague sold a wind-powered company to Google.) Another famous foiling enthusiast includes Sir Richard Branson.

“It’s like flying,” Ariel Poler, a 50-year-old startup investor, told the Times. “The board doesn’t touch the water. It’s like an airplane wing.”