Besides many other questions like e.g. “how many attempts does it take to learn pumpfoiling?” or “how many minutes is your longest run?” also the question “how dangerous is pumpfoiling?” is frequently asked by people passing by the dock.

In this article, we will have a closer look into the questions “how dangerous is pumpfoiling?”. This article is also available as a video.

Before we go into the details, the good news first: Although there are some risks associated with pumpfoiling, pumpfoiling can be practiced in a safe way and accidents can be reduced to a minimum. For sure, especially in the beginning, it can be that you get some scratches and bruises, but severe accidents which require medical treatment do not happen often. Fortunately, we had so far also not any severe accident during one of our training courses.

As safety has the highest priority for us, we make our course participants aware of the risks associated with pumpfoiling and in case needed also provide helmets and impact vests.

But why do we recommend to wear at least a helmet and impact vest? How dangerous is pumpfoiling ultimately and what are the most common injuries? As we get confronted with those questions often, we had a closer look into that topic and want to share with you some more insights.

Being often at the water and practicing pumpfoiling, we have some ideas what can happen. But we prefer not to only present our subjective personal view. Therefore, we asked the pumpfoiling community about their experiences and 85 pumpfoilers provided us their feedback.

The good news first. Only approximately every third pumpfoiler had so far suffered from an injury caused by pumpfoiling and only 7% of those who had an injury that required medical treatment.

When did you start with your pumpfoiling

Figure 1 – Percentage of injuries due to pumpfoiling

 

Due to the motion sequence during the take off and pumping phase, the equipment involved as well as the surrounding, there are different risks associated with pumpfoiling and therefore, also different parts of the body are exposed for injuries. Same as the injury pattern varies also different parts of the body are affected.

Figure 2 – Body parts affected by pumpfoiling injuries

For sure “injury” is a big word and can include everything from a small scratch to an injury that requires medical treatment. The following photos show injuries caused by pumpfoiling.

Brand of the board
Brand of the foil

Figure 3 –  Injuries caused by pumpfoiling accidents

 

Having a closer look at the injuries, 47% of the pumpfoilers with injuries mentioned that they suffered already scratches and cuts, followed by 30% bruises and 13% overexertion / pulled muscles. Another 17% have not specified the kind of injury.

Frontwing Model Overall

Figure 4 – Injury patterns

 

37% of the pumpfoilers who had an injury mentioned that they had an injury of the legs. Belly/torso and foot injuries were mentioned by 13% and hand injuries by 7% of the pumpfoilers.

It is good to see that injuries of the head are rare. For sure, one reason can be that the number of participants in our survey was limited on the other hand some injuries can be avoided by wearing appropriate safety equipment. We asked the pumpfoilers in our community if they wear protective and in case yes, what kind of protective equipment they wear.

Overall, approximately half of the pumpfoilers wear regularly protective equipments, whereas a little bit more than one-third never makes use of protective equipment.

Do you use the same equipment than in the beginning

Figure 5 – Safety equipment usage

 

For pumpfoiling, different safety equipment can be used. Most commonly used by the pumpfoilers we asked are:

  • Helmet
  • Shoes
  • Impact vest
  • Gloves

As most of the foils have some sharp edges, everyting what covers the body will give an additional layer in case the rider collides with the pumpfoil eqipment. Already a wetsuit will help to avoided scratches and bruises. What sometimes gets forgotten, that also the ground of the sea/lake/water may contains sharp ‘objects’ such eg. shells or broken bottles.

Do you use the same equipment and since when are you pumpfoiling

Figure 6 – Different safety equipment used

 

Protective equipment will for sure help to reduce the number of injuries, especially the severe ones. Having elaborated on the injury patterns as well as body parts affected, it still remains what’s the likelihood of getting injured.

We have to be aware that we do not have too much data and therefore, also had to make some assumptions. Basically we had to find out, how often the pumpfoilers we asked about their experience with injuries have practiced pumpfoiling. In a nutshell, we asked the the follwing questions:

 

  • Have you ever had an injury caused by pumpfoiling?
  • How often do you practice pumpfoiling wihtin a month?
  • When have you started with pumpfoiling?

The answers to those questions allowed us to calculate how many sessions they completed since the start of their pumpfoiling career. However, we had to make the following assumptions:

 

  • Number of sessions per months was the same over time
  • 15 dockstarts were done per session
  • Pumpfoilers who mentioned they already had an injury had in average 1.5 injuries

Combining the data collected together with the assumptions made, we can then derive the incident rate.

No of pumpfoil sessions of all foilers so far: 7’953
No of pumpfoilers who suffered an injury: 30

The evaluation we did was covering the answers of pumpfoilers of all levels. For sure, the question is then, if beginners are more often subject to accidents than intermediate or advanced pumpfoilers. To get at least an indications of the probability of having an injury is decreasing with better pumpfoil skills and more experience, we calculated the incident rate addtionally only considering pumpfoilers who started with foiling within the last 12 months.

Pumpfoilers who started in the last 12 months:

No of pumpfoil sessions so far: 1’668
No of pumpfoilers who suffered an injury: 13

Looking at the result we can see that the incident rate is nearly double as high when only considering the pumpfoilers that started within the last 12 months than considering all pumpfoilers. As a consequence we can conclude that the risk of an injury is much higher in the beginning, than when already being more experienced.

 

Looking at the numbers of injuries as well as injury patterns we see, that pumpfoiling is not per se a dangerous activity. However, we have to be aware of the risks and also shold also make sure that safety has the highest priority. Therefore, make use of safety equipment that is appropriate for you and your skills level. A professionel introduction into the sport can help to reduce the risk of get injured. Also make sure to have a close look at the pumpfoiling spot and its surrounding before the first take off and verify, that the spot is safe. If possible, ask other pumpfoilers or look for information in the internet about spots and related hazards (e.g. locations on foilersworld) Questions you should ask yourself:

  • What is the temperature (air/water) and do you have adequate equipment?
  • Are there any sharp edges, may some nails or hazards at the dock?
  • Is the water deep enough? Are there any shallow areas?
  • If you miss the take off, is there a risk that you fall against/on the dock, stone, …?
  • Is there a safe way to get back out of the water? Are there any currents that may drift you away from the planned exit point?
  • Is there any boat traffic or other people doing water sport activities that could be a hazard?

We hope that we could provide you some answers to the question “how dangeours is pumpfoiling?” and could highlight what some of the risks are so that you can also can take countermeasures.

Summary:

  • There are some risks associated with pumpfoiling, however the risks can be minimized
  • Approximately one-third of the people who practice pumpfoiling had at least already once suffered an injury from pumpfoiling
  • Most of the injuries were minor, means they have not required medical treatment
  • Many injury pattern like cuts and bruises can be prevented by wearing protective equipment
  • In the beginning, there is a higher probability to have an accident
  • Make sure to wear appropriate safety equipment
  • Make sure the spot itself is safe

We wish a you all safe, accident free pumpfoiling sessions with a lot of fun!