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Wingfoiling 2024: A Beginners Guide to Wingfoiling Gear

Updated: Apr 27


What’s it like to foil?


The first time you're lifted out of the water on what seems like a tiny foil to balance on it's a frankly a terrifying sensation. The board accelerates away silently with speed, you have little idea on how to control it, as everything is generally the opposite of what you expect. Once you touch down, or fall off, all you can think of is how to do it again, immediately! Foiling is the most additive sensation on the water, many foilers describe it as a drug or an obsession. It feels like witchcraft, holding onto a lightweight wing which hardly seems to pull you, whilst being hurled forward on a silky smooth silent foil. It's certainly a moment you won't ever forget, it may well be come your next favourite addiction.


Can I Wing Foil?


Wing foiling is the most accessible of the board-foiling disciplines. You don’t need any superhuman riding ability, thought some basic wind sports knowledge is a big help. Being fit enough to get back on to your board a couple of dozen times helps when your learning.

With access to the right equipment most proficient windsurfers can pick it up over a few sessions on their own accord. Flat water, a steady wind and some determination should be all that you need to progress. 

Lakes, estuary inlets and sheltered bays are all on for a beginner foiler. Just make sure to give yourself a good amount of space downwind, thought it's best to avoid any dangerous currents or offshore winds when you set out.


Coast or Inland?


You can wing foil anywhere with a large enough body of water. That’s one of the reasons we love foiling.


Coastal:

The coast will have more breezy and the water will be choppier, so a slightly larger board and smaller wing is usually the best option to start with. As you progress coastal winging will become more exciting / challenging as you venture in to bumpier conditions, giving you the ultimate playground.


Inland:

Inland conditions will offer flatter water but usually less breeze, this environment is ideal for learning safely, perfect to get to grips with the basics. Inland you'll probably need a bigger foil and wing to make the most of the conditions.


How Do I Start Wingfoiling?


If you’re experienced in windsports like windsurfing or kitesurfing with a bit of perseverance, self-teaching is a good option. Make sure you’re on the right kit or you’ll give yourself an unnecessarily hard time. Keep reading for all the details on what kit to start on. For everyone else, taking out a large SUP (with side-fins) is a good option to get used to handling a wing before committing to getting up on the foil. After you’re handling the wing with a decent amount of power through it without drifting downwind, you’ll be ready to get up on the foil.


 



Wings


There are a couple determining factors in choosing your first wing; size, features and price.  


Wing Size


Each size of wing will be able to handle a range of wind conditions with significant overlap. For a ‘general purpose’ key size wing for riders in the 75-90kg range we’d recommend starting with a 5m. If you’re heavier, inland or expecting to use your new foiling kit in lighter wind, going for a 6m would also be sensible.  


Features


Handles, Power and Materials and Price.

As with most things in life the more you spend the better the product. Cheaper Wings will get you going and up on the foil, but as you progress often you'll aim to upgrade for more performance.


Handles:

Generally there are three different types of handle, soft handles, hard fixed handles and a fixed boom style, all have their advantages.


Soft handles: these are ideal for learning on and can't damage your board, they also offer the lightest feel so can be great for surfing with a flagged out wing. These are found on beginner and Pro style Wings, they're also the easiest to pack down.


Hard fixed Handles: these are becoming more the norm as they offer a firm solid connection to the wing, you can more your hands along the handle and don't sag. These feel great and are hard to go back from, they offer a light feel so also good for flagged out riding on the waves too, they can scratch your board but that's rare, a great performance compromise.


Fixed Boom Wings: these will have a solid strut (boom) to hold on to, and offer the most solid connection to the Wing. Boomed Wings give the rider great control and are easy to pump to get going, they're also easy to turn move your hands on too. These Wings are slightly heavier with the boom and tend to be less suitable for surfing or flagged out riding.


Power.

This comes from canopy depth and tension, deeper canopies and a tighter back edge will give more power, these are usually easier to pump to get going and offer a "sharper" feel. Most higher end Wings will have some of these features. A softer canopy will offer a smoother more user friendly feel, but aren't as powerful and tricker to pump.


Materials and Price.

Most Wings are made of a Dacron style light cloth, these are easy to stuff into a bag; some with windows , some without. The more you spend on your Wing the more exotic the materials tend to be, lower stretch, lighter or more shaped, Wings will generally "blow out" in shape with extended use, the more high end materials tend to last a bit longer and give a more performance feel. These give a solid structure feel to the Wing but at a cost of course. New Wings will range from around £500 to £1400 in some cases.



The Aztron AIM wing is the latest Aztron wing design offering a great platform to start winging.



Solid, quality, rigid handled wing from a Swiss wing brand.


The Artmstrong XPS is a premium wing aimed at delivering maximum control and power.

 

Boards


Board Size


As a rule of thumb, we recommend choosing a board that's at least 20 or 30 litres larger in volume than your weight in kilograms. If you’d prefer to make life easy and ensure you’re having fun on the water, go for 40 liters or more! 


We’ve seen and heard of plenty of beginners having a tough time foiling after buying boards that were smaller than they needed to be. Until you’re comfortably getting up on the foil, you’re better off on the bigger board. This will also make your learning curve easier and more enjoyable than going too small to start with.


Board Shapes


It’s easy to focus on the litres to quantify boards, any shaper will tell you a board’s outline is as important. 


A longer, narrower board will rise more gradually out of the water onto the foil & it’ll have more speed when off the foil. Whilst a shorter, stubbier board will be sticker to get up out of the water but will have a more compact form when you're up on your foil. In general a middle of the road is a good compromise and will make learning easier than going too short to start with.


Inflatable Vs Hardboards


Wingfoiling boards are offered as inflatable and hard constructions. Inflatable boards are generally cheaper, easier to transport and store as well as being less susceptible to damage. However, without the rigidity of a hardboard you'll loose some of your connection to the foil. Inflatables also tend to be a little "sticky" to get going, but can be a good option to get going on. Inflatables offer accessible entry point for wing foiling, but a discerning intermediate wing foiler would be keen to swap to hardboard if possible.


Foot Straps - Should I Ride With Them?


As a beginner rider we recommend against foot straps, this will make foot placement easier and is less critical. You'll want to be able fall of without fear of getting your feet stuck. For more advanced riders footstraps are 50/50. On one hand they'll give you more connection to the board for carving and jumping. On the other hand they can interfere with the position of your feet particularly during tacks and gybes. Once you're up and foiling competently you'll be ready to consider attaching foot straps to your board, depending on your riding style.




The Aztron Falcon air is a stable inflatable platform for getting onto your feet and foiling.



High performance and quality, ultimate stability, smooth touchdowns, lightweight, solid.



The lastest of Naish the full carbon Ultras are light and responsible for thier size.

 


Foils



You’re likely to want to progress off your first foil sooner or later. Smaller foils will give you more speed and maneuverability. So there is a strong temptation to start on a smaller wing. However, we strongly recommend not undersizing the foil you start with. Developing technique and having fun are far more important than struggling to get to grips with a smaller foil. 


Foil Size


Choosing your foil size comes down to body weight and the experience you're bringing to the sport. 


Riders under 75Kg, with plenty of experience in a sport like windsurfing or kitesurfing might be able to consider learning on a foil as small as 1650cm2. For everyone else we recommend starting out on 1800 or 2000cm2 foil. A 2000 foil will give you plenty of lift. You’ll get you out of the water without needing as much power in the wing - the lift will keep you going through inconsistent wind and will offer more stability when up on the foil. You’ll have great platform to get start practicing tacking and gybing. 


Foil Construction


The 'wings' of a foil set tend to be made from carbon fibre across the board. Carbon gives the ideal combination of stiffness and weight. To meet lower price points some foil sets will use an aluminium fuselage and mast. This adds some weight and scarifies a small amount of rigidity to be easier on the wallet. Whilst foils sets aimed at beginners trend toward lower price aluminium options your choice will ultimately come down to your budget.


Foil Aspect - High vs Low Aspect Foils





Whilst you're looking for your first foil you'll likely come across high aspect foils. A foil's aspect refers to the ratio of its wingspan to its depth. In practical terms a high aspect foils has a long wingspan (leading edge) compared to it's overall surface area. Lower Aspect Ratio = +Lift +Acceleration +Stability

Higher Aspect Ratio = +Speed +Glide +Pumping Power


The increase lift of a lower aspect ratio foils is ideal for beginners. It'll help you get foiling earlier at a lower speed. Once you've mastered the basics a higher aspect foil may suit your riding style.



The Aztron 2000 is the ideal beginner foil. Big and lifty it'll give you the best chance of zooming along above the water.



An Aztron 1650 might be a good option if you're light and bringing the right experience with you.



The Aztron 1800H is the largest of our higher aspect foils.




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