Words: Foilshop UK.
Pics: Oli Lane-Peirce.
Wing foiling has evolved quite a bit since its explosion a few seasons agon. At its reinvented inception (as wings have been around since the early days of windsurfing) it was mostly 4m wings that were available (and marketed). It quickly became obvious that other sizes were needed as a 4m for most is too small.
Fast forward to now and various sizes of wings exist to suit all tastes, riding styles, local conditions, wing foiling equipment and rider build. But the question we often hear is: ‘can I get away with just one size of wing?’.
Wing foil wing wind range.
One beauty of wingin’ is the ability to narrow equipment down to a bare minimum. Add to the mix the compact nature of foil boards, the easy (modular) breakdown of foils and wings that deflate and pack away quickly and you have a desirable watersport toy. The space saving element of wing foiling is one of its many attractions.
Wings, relative to each size, have broad wind ranges. Much wider than kitesurfing kites or windsurfing sails. It’s possible to stick with the same size wing from the lightest of puff riders need to get foiling right up to much bigger gusts. As a general rule you have roughly 15 knots of range to play with for each wing size (with experience and skills nailed down). For example a 6m wing can get a rider foiling in 12 knots and deliver a top out wind speed of 23 knots. That’s a massive range!
Hyde Sails Blast V2 wing foil wing surfing wing 3.5m, 4.2m, 5m, 6m, 7m, 8m.
Wing foil wing tuning.
As wing design advances their efficiency has improved considerably. As has the materials they’re made from and how you now set them up. With some new gen wings it’s now possible to tune your wing according to wind strength and style of riding. Using air pressure (PSI) foilers can tweak the performance of their wing. This can make the bottom and top end of the wing’s wind range more comfortable.
But not all wings are the same. Various factors determine how a wing sets and behaves. So bottom line when choosing your wing(s) is do your research and understand what the designer had in mind with the shape. Also, it should go without saying, buy from a reputable brand. But don’t be afraid to look away from the headline companies with the biggest marketing budgets! Some up and coming wing brands offer just as good, if not better, performance from their products.
Can I get away with just one wing?
The answer to the above question comes down to a variety of factors. If you’re still in the beginner/early intermediate phase then chances are you’ll still require at least two sizes of wing. Whilst you’re dialing in the ‘feel’ of winging – more specifically how to pump and use the foil to get flying – power is what you require. That translates to using a bigger size wing in slightly more wind than more experienced riders to get up on foil. When the wind increases you can drop down to your smaller wing.
For those with water hours under their belt the answer is more to do with the foil than the wing. Here at Foilshop HQ we tend to use just one size of wing for 90% of the riding we do. Depending on wind strength we swap out the foil. If it’s lighter we stick a bigger foil, with lower take off speed, on. When the wind increases we swap to something smaller. This reduces drag and reduces the wing’s forces in our joints making it more comfortable to handle in blowier weather. (We may also change again depending on conditions, mood and what we’re aiming to achieve).
We’ve talked about pumping before but learning how to pump your foil is a vital skill. It’ll allow smaller wings to be used in less wind as well as smaller foils.
Wing quality and one wing quivers.
The need to use a quality, well manufactured wing to achieve the one wing quiver should be reitterated. And even then, if you truly want to get out in all weather perhaps a second wing may still be required.
You can in theory (with time) get to a point where a one wing quiver is doable. It mightn’t be the best route for everyone but it’s certainly possible. That’s a decision you need to make though.
Let us know if you have any questions about wings, wing foiling and foiling in general.
For more wing foil related articles hit up the following.