The atmospheric ventilation of a surface-piercing hydrofoil is examined in a series of towing-tank experiments, performed on a vertically cantilevered hydrofoil with an immersed free tip. The results of the experiments expand upon previous studies by contributing towards a comprehensive understanding of the topology, formation and elimination of ventilated flows at low-to-moderate Froude and Reynolds numbers. Fully wetted, fully ventilated and partially ventilated flow regimes are identified, and their stability regions are presented in parametric space. The stability of partially and fully ventilated regimes is related to the angle of the re-entrant jet, leading to a set of criteria for identifying flow regimes in a laboratory environment. The stability region of fully wetted flow overlaps those of partially and fully ventilated flows, forming bi-stable regions where hysteresis occurs. Ventilation transition mechanisms are classified as formation and elimination mechanisms, which separate the three steady flow regimes from one another. Ventilation formation requires air ingress into separated flow at sub-atmospheric pressure from a continuously available air source. Ventilation washout is caused by upstream flow of the re-entrant jet. The boundary denoting washout of fully ventilated flow is expressed as a semi-theoretical scaling relation, which captures past and present experimental data well across a wide range of Froude and Reynolds numbers.