Wing foiling tips: a few points to consider before you buy a wing foil set up.

Wing foiling tips a few points to consider before you buy a wing foil set up.

Pics: Oli Lane-Peirce, Steve Carter.

Wing foiling remains the headline grabbing hydrofoil discipline of the moment. Everywhere you look within watersports it’s wings, wings, wings. The brands and their team riders are doing a great job of ‘selling the dream’ but there’re a few things to consider before buying your own wing foiling equipment.

Wing foiling is a low power sport that needs more wind than you’d think.

If you’re looking to fly in light breeze then you need the engine to make this happen, to begin with. Seeing idyllic images and vids of riders flying in super light airs is certainly attractive.

With the best will in the world, however, an average to heavyweight foiler won’t be up and flying with a 5m wing in less than 15 knots. Go bigger! You might even need larger than initially thought. If it’s a 7m wing you require, to get that taste of light wind wing foiling – and allow you to develop the necessary technique to eventually ride smaller wings in lighter breeze – then do it.

For all the so called diminishing returns of using a bigger wing foil wing the fact remains: when you’re flying you’re learning. Bogging about is about as frustrating as it gets!

A big foil is slow and unexciting, isn’t it?

As with wing foiling wings themselves you need all the help you can get during those initial phases to get you up and foiling. Don’t forget the foil itself!

Current trends lean towards high aspect foils which offer less drag, faster speeds, better pumping and generally more efficiency over their lower aspect cousins. But high aspect foils (generally) need more power and rider input (think technique).

Indiana Wing Foil 118 and Axis PNG 1150
Indiana Wing Foil 118 board and Axis PNG 1150 foil.

Once you’ve dialled this in then fill ya boots: start running high aspect foil wings. But initially, you’ll have an easier time on something bigger with tons of lift. And actually, when it comes down to it, the feel of being on foil mitigates any negative thoughts you might have about speed. The feel of foiling is so unique, and the fact you’re flying in low wind strengths is so addictive that’ll be all that matters. More speed can come later.

Note: You can quite happily learn on a high aspect foil. Some do a good job of lifting incredibly early. But you need to know which foils do this. The Axis S-Series Glide range (particularly the bigger foil wings in the line up) do a good job of impersonating big lift, low aspect wings (sort of).

If you’re not aux fair with certain foils, and haven’t been given the correct advice, then you should limit buying mistakes from the get go and stick to the proven: ‘ a low aspect foil wing is your friend in theory.’ You can swap it out or add to your foil quiver later.

Gusty wind, chop, current and strong tide further hinders wing foil progression.

Not all of us are lucky to live in idyllic wing foiling locations. Mostly, our venues are strewn with chop, current, strong tides and gusty winds. That applies to inland wing foiling locations as well (minus the tide, obviously).

There’s nothing worse than to be faced with light gusty breeze, considerable chop and have gear that won’t make best use of these conditions. Choppy water states, especially, can feel like you’re riding uphill – forwards momentum severely hampered. A good rider will be able to pump their wing and foil to lift above the flotsam early. Those beginning their wing foil journey, however, won’t have developed this skill so need to rely on power (see above comments).

Lonesome wing foiling with the Hyde Blast V2 wing and Indiana Wing Foil board.

A slightly longer board will help also (6′-7′ ish). Whilst super compact wing foil boards are great, they don’t glide or track well. Something that does will see you accelerate much more efficiently, riding over chop better, before lifting progressively on foil. As you advance a more compact sled can be considered.

Board float (volume) is your friend – at least to begin with.

Keeping the above points in mind wing foil boards with ample volume will help. Side on chop will only make getting to your knees, and eventually your feet, all the more tricky.

Indiana Wing Foil 118L in SUP foil mode
If you choose your wing foil board wisely you may also find it has crossover foiling performance.

There’s argument a lower volume board sinks below the water line and therefore isn’t affected as much but chop/tide/current is all well and good. But there’s technique to using such a board. It’s easier to have something that actually floats you! And this is as much about safety as it advancing your wing foiling.

If you want to wing foil often then a quiver of wings is a must.

Wing foiling wings have huge wind ranges. There’s certainly no need to own excessive amounts of wings as you would with windsurfing sails of kites for instance. That said every wing has its limit – both at the bottom end and top. If you want to wing across as wide a section of wind strengths as possible then a quiver (two would suffice) is a must. The focus should be on your lighter wind wing first (you’ll be using this most often), with your second made to complement this. For instance: a 6m and a 4m can work well together, depending on the brand and so on.

Hyde Blast V2 wing
The Hyde Blast V2 wing – ready and waiting.

There are plenty of other factors to consider when starting out on your wing foiling journey – it doesn’t stop here. As you progress equipment choices you make will fluctuate. You may end up with multiple bits of gear – especially if you develop a real taste for winging. Or, alternatively, you may discover how specifically you want winging to fit your watersports routine and narrow kit down accordingly.

If you’re after real world wing foiling advice, based on extensive experience, then give us a shout at Foilshop UK. We’ll be happy to guide you in the ways of the wing.

Don’t forget to check out these other Foilshop UK foiling knowledge articles