How to choose the right wing foiling equipment

November 4, 2020 | Surfing
Wing foiling: the future of surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding combined | Photo: GWA

Getting started with wing foiling requires a different setup compared to when you're working on advancing your skills.

But no matter your level is, you'll need a wing, a board, and a foil.

The beauty of wing foiling, also known as wing surfing, is that there's less gear to manage, store, clean, and carry to the beach for a session.

However, that does not make it any less crucial to find the right gear for you and your experience level.

The best way to get into wing foiling is to choose the most appropriate gear for your skill level.

The Wing

Wings are still in the relatively early stages of development, but we have already seen relevant evolution in performance and ease-of-use.

As a beginner, you should focus on learning to steer the wing, so it can be helpful to start on land and get used to how the wing moves.

Find time to understand how the wing works and how to power up and depower the wing.

Once you're out and moving slowly across the water, you'll begin to focus on getting up on the foil.

As a beginner, you'll most likely want to start with just one wing.

It is easier to get started with more power than less, and therefore, you'll want to go out in stronger winds and on a bigger wing.

Wing sizes range from 2.8 to 6.4 meters.

As a general rule of thumb, a good starting wing four-meter wing for anyone up to 155 pounds (70 kilograms) and a five-meter wing for anyone over that weight.

The second thing to consider when choosing a wing is how you'll hold it.

You'll find two primary ways of holding the wing.

You'll either be using soft handles running along the center strut or a hard boom that is attached to the center strut from tip to tail.

Each one has its pros and cons, so choose what you're more comfortable with.

Finally, consider your leash attachment and how you'll maintain a connection to your wing.

Leashes are usually attached either on your wrist - usually attached to your front/leading hand - or to your waist.

Each version has pros and cons, so once again, choose what feels more comfortable.

The best thing to do is to demo a few different setups to get a feel for what you prefer.

The Board

Beginner wing foilers should choose floaty and stable boards.

Yes, you actually want to be able to stand on the board while you're just floating there.

A good rule of thumb is to have 30-40 liters of volume over your body weight. For example, if you weigh 80 kilograms, opt for a 120-liter board.

As you progress, you'll be able to move to a smaller and more maneuverable board, but during the first sessions, you want to maximize your learning time.

Bigger boards provide enough float so that you can concentrate on learning how to control the wing without having to focus on balancing on your board.

With bigger boards, your balance doesn't have to be as good, so keep this in mind when choosing your first setup,

If you're an experienced water sports enthusiast, you may be able to start on a slightly smaller board.

As a general rule of thumb, the more advanced you get, the smaller board you'll want to ride.

Many high-level riders are using foil surfboards with less than 50 liters of volume.

Wing foiling: beginners should start riding on a bigger board | Photo: GWA

The Foil

The foil is made up of a mast, fuselage, and wings.

When choosing a foil, you'll want to look for foils that are stable, have good glide, and plenty of lift.

A taller mast (70 centimeters plus) is great for learning because it gives you the right height and keeps you from pearling in choppy waters.

Beginner foilers will want to look for foils that don't require a lot of speed to get up, meaning you'll be able to get on foil at slower speeds.

Super slow speed foiling is crucial for learning safely and effectively.

Look for foil wings that allow for speeds of 10-12 kilometers per hour on the low end.

You'll also want to look for a foil that allows you to wing in a wide range of wind conditions.

As you progress, you'll need a foil wing that allows for acceleration, more speed, and excellent turning capabilities.

Wing foiling: beginners must learn how to power up and depower the wing | Photo: GWA

Expert Tips

Practice in an area that has a safe landing downwind. Most likely, you'll do a number of downwind runs before you learn to stay upwind.

So, give yourself plenty of space.

Take deep breaths. Falling off the board, plunging into the water, and dragging yourself back on the board can be exhausting.

Take rest breaks, and don't forget to breathe.

Try foiling without the wing. If you have access to a jet ski or boat, or e-foil, try to learn the foil by itself.

Understanding how foiling works will enable you to progress much faster when you try to put all the parts together.

Put your helmet on. Protect yourself from injuries. The foils are sharp, and the boards are hard, so wear a helmet, impact vest, booties, and full wetsuit.

Finally, find a school.

It's important to have expert instruction when learning wing foiling, as well as a safe and effective environment.

Learn more about the wing foiling revolution with the Global Wingsports Association.

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