What is Wing Foiling?
If you have been recently to the beach chances are that you have encountered someone in the water flying above the surface on a foil board with a giant inflatable wing in their hands.
If that is the case, you better get used to it because wing foiling is a craze that is here to stay.
What is wing foiling?
Wing Foiling consists of harnessing the power of the wind and the swell thanks to handling an inflatable wing while riding on a hydrofoil board. Wing Foiling is an incredible bridge between kiting, windsurfing and surf foiling that appeals to a broader section of new watersports participants because of its simplicity, quick learning curve, location suitability and safety.
The beauty of the sport is that you can wing foil on almost any body of water. You’re using a hydrofoil, which thanks to the physics behind it, creates lift so that you don't need a breaking wave to move, making unbroken, open ocean swells accessible.
And if you live far away from the ocean you can still wing foil on lakes and large bodies of water thanks to the wing harnessing the wind which gives you speed and elevates the foil quickly.
What equipment do I need to wing foil?
To be able to wing foil you need first of all a wing, a board and a hydrofoil. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term hydrofoil, don't despair, we are here to help, just keep on reading.
What is a hydrofoil surfboard?
A hydrofoil surfboard is basically a surfboard with a hydrofoil mounted to the bottom. The hydrofoil refers to the mast, top plate, fuselage, front wing and back wing which are attached to the underside of a surfboard towards the rear and it uses similar physics to an aeroplane’s wings to generate lift to get the board up out of the water.
If you want more information about the hydrofoil, don’t forget to add the article “How does a hydrofoil work” to your reading list.
How does a wing foil work?
The wing works very similarly to a kite, although different than in kite surfing in wing foiling/wing surfing the wing is held in your hands rather than on the end of lines.
As the wind blows in the wing’s direction, the wing’s canopy fills up, driving the board and rider forward, with enough power, the foil lifts out the water.
Wings come in all shapes and sizes and are a versatile tool, which allows you to use the power of the wind when you need it and neutralise it in an instant when you don’t, giving you even more freedom and manoeuvrability during your session on the water.
The great advantage of wing foiling is that your foil board, once it’s above the water, minimises drag, increases acceleration and top speed and allows for breathtakingly agile manoeuvres.
Which weather conditions do I need to be able to wing foil?
If you are new to wing foiling, a good time to have your debut in this sport would be on a day with average wind conditions (between 15 and 20 knots of wind) on a spot that is not exposed to swell.
We also recommend that if you are a beginner, you wait for a crosswind to avoid the risk of being blown out to sea.
The wind speed should also be stable:
- For a beginner: 15 to 20 knots
- For an experienced rider: up to 30/35 knots.
Beginners should not try wing foiling when the wind force exceeds 30 knots (force 7).
Once you have mastered your first encounter with the wing you can progress to enjoying wing foiling even on super light wind days. The awesome thing about this sport is that you can get out and have a great session even on days, on which with your windsurfing or kitesurfing gear you would probably not even get into the water.
Very skilled wing foilers are able to pump themselves on the foil in only 6-7 knots of wind.
Which wing to choose in which conditions?
Choosing a wing can be tricky, especially in the beginning. That’s why we have created a size guide overview for the Takuma WK wing, which is a perfect early progression stage wing.
A wing with a handle or a wishbone?
The wishbone or boom is a bar similar to that on a windsurf sail. It is rigid, whereas handles are lighter, more flexible and offer more possibilities for grip positions. Which one you choose will come down to your personal preference, so if possible, try testing both to see which suits you best.
Leash and wing: inseparable
Most manufacturers provide a leash with their wings. But if they don’t, then you need to purchase one separately.
The leash is mandatory, it connects you to your wing like a lifeline. In wing foil, you will have two leashes.
The one on your wrist to connect you to the wing and a second one on your waist or ankle attaching you to the board.
Wing foiling vs. wing surfing - what is the difference?
Although nowadays a lot of people use “wing foiling” and “wing surfing” as a synonym for riders on a board with a handheld wing, strictly speaking there is a difference in regard to the board being used.
While during “wing foiling” the rider is on a hydrofoil surfboard, “wing surfing” refers to the rider using a surfboard, paddleboard or other board without a foil.
Is wing foiling difficult?
The trickiest part about wing foiling is learning how to ride the hydrofoil surfboard. Once you have mastered the foil board, handling the wing is quite easy to learn and can be practiced on land.
Is wing foiling dangerous?
All watersports are risky to a certain degree and wing foiling is no exception to that. To prevent any injuries we recommend you wing foil with a helmet and booties and always pay attention to your surroundings and nearby foilers/ surfers.
Do I need a new board to wing foil?
It depends on your board. If you have a board that is foiling-approved by the manufacturer, then give it a go. However the foil puts a lot of pressure on your finbox and in the long run it could possibly damage your board. So maybe it’s wiser to invest in getting a specifically designed hydrofoil board. It’s up to you.
Can I wing foil on snow?
The amazing thing about the wing is that, although it was primarily made for being used in the water, you can get creative with it.
If you can’t wait until summer, you can take your wing to winter wonderland and carve deep powder using your wing. Besides being a totally different sensation you can improve your skills during the winter season.
It is also great to practice with using a skateboard or mountain board in open terrain.