Convertible foil boards (wing, SUP, wind) – are they any good?

Pics: Oli Lane-Peirce/james Jagger/Foilshop UK.

We heard a cynical insider industry comment recently that by combining wing foiling with windsurf foiling (and SUP to some degree if you remember windSUP is a thing) that this gear us a rouse to keep windsurfing numbers up…somehow. But that aside you can’t fail to recognise – especially if you subscribe to any combo of these activities – that convertible foiling boards, that allow different styles of flying, are attractive.

You’ve heard the saying: ‘Jack of all trades master of none’. This could be applied to some multi-discipline foil boards… As foiling evolves there’s a growing trend from brands (particularly those that inhabit the windsurfing/stand up paddle boarding space) to produce Swiss Army Knife bits of equipment that do more than one job.

i99’s Volare 130L in SUP foil mode.

We should also acknowledge there are a bunch of boards available that aim at foiling but also cover stuck to water elements as well. Having tested a few similar designs a few years back we can say they did work fine. But it’s tricky to come up with an efficient shape that serves flying AND on water riding. The two parts are wildly different relying on contrasting hydrodynamics (and aerodynamics to some degree). So for this article we’re sticking with the evolved convertible boards that focus entirely on foiling.

So do they work? I’m a nutshell: yes! And pretty well. We’ve had opportunity to test and ride a bunch of multi-foil board designs from a different manufacturers. These include Slingshot’s Shred Sled, Gong’s Zuma, JP Australia’s Foil Slate and the brand new 2021 i99 (NoveNove) Volare.

Note: A couple of others are in the mix but we haven’t quite finished testing yet. Stay tuned on those!

All the aforementioned foil boards allow flying of different styles. Depending on which design you’re looking at depends on which discipline the boards err slightly towards. It’s subtle and incremental and to be honest most real world riders possibly wouldn’t pick up these nuances until a few sessions in. And even then it’s not that any area is falling flat it’s more about marginal optimisation. Basically they’re all fun to use and will suit riders who mix and match their foil riding depending on conditions and/or mood.

Wingin’ it aboard the Gong Zuma – powered by Unifoil’s Wind Wing 6m and Hyper 210 foil.
Same board, different foiling: SUP foil on the Gong Zuma.

We will add that as yet fewer multi-foil boards have option for windsurf foiling. This is mostly because with only SUP and wing foil in the mix the brand’s board range in question can be shrunk right down in terms of volumes and widths. As soon as you add a mast track, whereby the power source is attached to the board (i.e. your windsurf sail), you add weight. This requires more volume and float for starting in lighter winds. As such convertible foil boards including windsurfing hold their size around the 130L mark roughly.

If you’re looking to drop board sizing for wing or SUP foiling then you’ll eventually lose the windsurf foil element. You could, of course, store a quiver if you wish but riders in the market for a ‘one does all’ solution probably don’t want to go this route.

Slingshot Shred Sled in wing freestyle mode.

Having ability to swap out foiling styles across wing foil, SUP foil and windfoil is something we like at Foilshop. Typical riding venues – such as FS’s UK HQ – requires adaptability to maximise all weathers. No two sessions are ever the same conditions wise. In fact, no two hours are! Such is the inconsistent and changeable climate we experience. Having a one board solution is therefore welcome as it narrows down one of the variables. If board design and technical know how hadn’t evolved to the point it currently has this kind of sled may have ended up a ‘dog’. Fortunately this isn’t the case.

Slingshot Shred Sled wind foil ducking.

Convertible foil boards aren’t for everyone. But if you’re a cross-foiler who switches about disciplines regularly then perhaps one of these babies would be a good bet for you. Check ’em out if you can…

If you have any more questions about convertible foil boards, wing foiling, SUP foiling, windsurf foiling it any other part of foiling then just holla. And be sure to check out the following articles over on a our Foiling Knowledge page –