‘A 4m wing is all you need…’ – debunking the wing foiling wing size myth.

Pics: Foilshop UK, Oli Lane-peirce, James Jagger
Wing foiling has many myths. How often have you heard the comment: ‘all you need is a 4m wing foil wing’? Maybe less so of late but back in 2019, when wing foiling wings properly emerged (even though the winging concept isn’t anything new), a 4m was touted as being the only size you need.

Some of us – especially those from a windsurfing background – immediately were skeptical full well knowing that a 4m power source is on the smaller side. After all, if you’re riding a 4m windsurf sail then it’s usually pretty breezy, unless you’re particularly lightweight. A 4m wing for all conditions, even sub 20 knots? Well, not quite! And so it came to pass.

Pretty soon the 4m myth was disproved with most of us needing considerably bigger wings to get foiling. (If you’re not looking to hydrofoil with your wing then actually, maybe a 4m will do).

12-15 knots on the 5m Hyde Blast wing.

Wing foiling wings are now available in sizes ranging from teeny tiny (2.5m) right up to 9m. The biggest Foilshop UK has used is the 8m Zeeko Ypsilon. 

Even though we’re now familiar with the fact wing foiling wings need wind and power to actually fly there’s still a lot of chat about the size of wings. Many suggest as you go above 6m it’s a case of diminishing returns. This article talks about that particular topic –

A big ‘un – Duotone’s Eacho 7m.

Supposedly big wing foil wings create more drag in the air, so are slower as well as being harder to use (think wing tips clipping the water) and are heavier.

6m wangin’ with the Unifoil Wind Wing.

The fact is, if you’re a real world foiler, and not some lightweight pro, you need oomph – especially if lighter winds are a preference (or what you have to settle for). For most, wing foiling will be a sub-25 knot activity. The majority looking to fly in less than 20knta typically. With the best will in the world, however, if you’re at the heavier end of the weight spectrum (85kg plus) even a 5m wing will prove tricky to get you flying – especially if you haven’t developed foil pumping skills.

With time and practice, you may be able to pump yourself up on foil with a smaller wing in lighter breeze. Some riders, even with skills developed, may prefer path of least resistance, however, and not want to be jumping up and down like an electrocuted bunny. In this instance, a bigger ‘engine’ will drive you up to ride height without all that pumping exertion.

Tips around wing foiling include using a big foil wing (all this chat of wings is confusing, we know!) – most likely a low aspect surf style front wing. Higher aspect types are certainly faster but also require additional power and rider input. If you’re already struggling to get the necessary juice to actually get on foil then combining with a high aspect will just exacerbate the issue and possibly put you off.

Big wings on the Duotone Each 7m.

Time and again we see newbie wingers dogging around with too small a wing, on too small a foil in too light a breeze. (Compounding this may also be the fact they’re on too small a board, are riding in a choppy location and the wind’s inconsistent). Making life easy for yourself from the get go is key.

Having armed yourself with the right foil (asking advice from a reputable source such as Folishop UK will help), gotten hold of the right board (if in doubt go bigger with more volume – at least to start) it’s then time to choose your wing.

Hyde Sails Blast V2 wing foil wing surfing wing 3m, 4m, 5m, 6m, 7m, 8m.
As your wing foiling skills improve you may be able to get away with a 5m in 12knts.

Asking yourself (and answering honestly) some questions will help narrow your wing choices down. Where are you likely to be riding most of the time and what are prevailing conditions like? What style of riding you’re most likely to do and how heavy you are. Unfortunately, as with most board sports, sailor weight does play a big part.

If you’re a bigger boned individual then you need some juice as far as wing power goes. Likewise, if your location suffers from inconsistent, gusty conditions (perhaps with a load of chop in the mix – making the initial foiling take of a bit like riding up a hill) then you need some juice. And if you’re venue is a light wind spot then (you’ve guessed it) you need some juice.

a 4m wing is all you need
The wind range wings have means even bigger sizes are doable if the breeze increases.

We see it often. Riders heading out with smaller wings proceeding to bounce up and down like voracious Jack In The Boxes. Whilst pumping is indeed a valuable skill, and one all foilers need under their belts, going at the whole thing like a Duracell Bunny when you’re on the wrong gear is a hiding to nowhere. Of course, in time, with a refined technique and the correct equipment, you may be able to fly in lighter airs with a smaller wing. Initially, you just need the power.

There’s an argument being thrown about that big wings are hard to learn with. Whilst larger wind catching tools are less nimble than smaller types suggesting you can’t learn on one isn’t true. We don’t recommend going straight for a 9m behemoth but a 6m, for instance, is perfectly applicable. If it’s a wing from a reputable brand, who know their onions, then there’ll be no issue. A lot of bigger wings have had their geometry configured to be more compact thereby allowing perceived issues such as wing tips catching to not be a problem.

Taking Zeeko’s 8m Ypsilon wing as an example. We had a first time winger use this for his very first run out. He coped fine. With little prior watersports experience the chap in question was back and forth quick smart. And his comment was how light, yet dependable, the 8m was.

OLP’s first wings with the Zeeko Ypsilon 8m.

The bottom line is don’t believe the hype – not all of it at least. If you’re a bigger boned, real world winger then bigger wings are worth a look to give you that little extra where you need it. As you progress your technique will refine. But in the short term, at least, why make life hard? You want to be foiling so grab the power source that’ll get you there. You’ll have no issue with depower as this is one of wing foiling‘s beauties.

Don’t forget to check out more wing foiling articles below –